Friday, December 30, 2005

Deciding Where You Want Baby To Live

If you are like many people, you are looking for an exciting life when you are young. You spend your time working hard and having fun and want to spend your free time having fun as well. Perhaps you, like many young professionals, live in the city. Then you have children, and you find that now, you must reconsider why you live where you are and if you want to stay.

When baby is on the way and you are thinking about where you want to live permanently, there are a number of factors that are likely to play a role in your decision. First, you should consider the quality of schools. You will want to look at public and private schools. While you may not be able to afford private school right now, we are talking about several years down the road. Are the schools good quality? You can check state and federal ratings of the schools, and you should. More important for you, however, is how the school system fits with your personal philosophy. If you believe in hands-on learning or self-esteem learning, for example, does the school system adhere to the same principles?

How child-friendly is the city? It may be a little tough for you to gauge that before baby arrives because you have been busy being single. Try doing a little research. Can you find any playgroups for babies?

Also think about entertainment. Can you think of family-friendly restaurants? What about weekend activities? Are there programs geared specifically toward families with small children? While you certainly do not want to move to a town where everything is geared toward family and thus seems sterile to adults, you will want to be sure that you will have something for you to do as a family once you have a child?

Are there parks? Are there playgrounds? Is there anywhere children can play? A good sign is that a town or city without a good park system is one that is not friendly to children. Be sure that you look into everything that your town has to offer for little ones.

Other concerns may include your ability to find a good pediatrician, the proximity of decent stores with children's attire or books, and the way that people treat children when they are customers. You may have to make some observations or calls to find out about some of these issues, but it is important that you research them now. When it comes to a pediatrician's office, you must consider whether or not there are many doctors in your area. Some areas tend to have only family physicians, and you need to decide if that is the right choice for you. Also be sure that you get in with a pediatrician and that you feel comfortable in that office.

Look for where you will buy your children's clothing or other belongings. While you may not mind a drive to the city for big trips, you do not want to have to travel every time your baby needs new shoes or a pair of jeans. Babies go through clothes so quickly that you need to have something nearby in case of emergencies or when quick trips are required.

Watch when you are in restaurants. How do the people there treat the children? Do they ignore them? Do they offer to bring them crayons and a coloring sheet? Watching staff members interact with children is a great way to judge how child-friendly a city is. Be sure that children are not always seated by the kitchen in restaurants. Just look around. You will begin to see how people view children and whether you want to raise your baby in that environment.

While you certainly do not have to decide on a permanent location at this moment, you should decide before your baby gets very old. You want to be able to correct your decision should you realize that it is a bad one. You also want to be able to settle down and feel as if you are at home once your children get a little older. Take the time now to decide where to live, and you will appreciate your own efforts later, when you are in a pleasant, child-friendly place.

By Julia Mercer

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