Life often teaches us lessons in places where we least expect it. For example, many of us find solutions to problems in the shower instead of while doing research on a computer. As a specialist in pregnancy and postpartum health, I am often reading various medical journals and specialty blogs on the topic.
However, just like finding answers in the shower, I don’t always find my answers from these traditional sources. Case in point, here are five financial lessons I learned from my accountant that apply to postpartum health:
1. Pay yourself first: In the financial world, you set aside some money for savings before paying any of your bills and debts. In the world of motherhood, it means taking care of yourself so you can take care of those around you. It’s giving yourself permission to go to the gym, take a shower, sit for five minutes and take a break. Placing yourself at the top of your totem pole instead of the bottom will pay large dividends.
2. Stay within budget: Healthy finances are always based on a sound budget just as being a mother is based on managing your time and energy. This means knowing what you can and can’t do and allowing yourself to say no or politely decline an invitation that stretches you too thin or causes you to go “over budget” with your time and energy. Spending beyond your means can lead to exhaustion, irritability and overall discontent with life.
3. Develop a system that works for you: Finding your financial groove takes continued effort, tweaking and a willingness to address what isn’t working. The first year after a baby is born — whether it’s your first, third or fifth baby — takes time and flexibility and a continued effort to find what works for you, your family and your circumstances. Finding confidence in the way you do things is an important part in establishing a healthy identity.
4. Learn to talk about finances: One of the leading causes of divorce is finance. It’s not necessarily the finances causing the divorce, but a couple’s inability to talk about finances. There are a lot of changes that take place with a new baby and learning to communicate with your partner can help you both get through this exciting and challenging time. Having regular conversations can proactively address areas where there may be stress and struggle instead of waiting until things reach a boiling point.
5. Know when you need support: There are an abundance of questions in the world of money and taxes, and we are often OK with reaching out and asking our accountant questions in these areas. No matter how experienced you are as a mother, you will inevitably face new issues and challenges where you may not know what do. Seeking out support and advice — whether from a friend or a professional — can prevent unnecessary struggle or pitfalls during motherhood.
Kristin B. Hodson is a licensed clinical social worker and founder of The Healing Group in Salt Lake City. She is also founder of Hey Mom!, a campaign devoted to the prevention of PPD. For more information, visit www.thehealinggroup.com.