Is there ever a “right” time to have a baby? I don’t think there is. You’ll always be chasing something – that promotion, that new car, that new house, that new job, that holiday. If we waited for that perfect timing when we had ticked everything off our list and achieved all we wanted to achieve the opportune moment will have probably passed. I don’t think there will ever be a “right” time to have a baby, but I do think there are some things that you can do and some indicators you can look for to make sure you feel as ready as you can to start a family. This is the advice I gave to a friend earlier this week when we were discussing this exact topic:
Do as many of the big ticket things that you want to do in life as you can – got a bucket list? Start ticking those things off. Want to travel? Get that passport out and go. Once children come along things change. It’s not that you can’t still do these things once you have children, you can for the most part, it’s just that your priorities change. You probably wont be able to justify spending a few thousand on a luxury holiday as easily once mini me arrives.
Make sure your relationship is rock solid. Children have a way of shaking things up a bit. The husband and I have been together coming up to 10 years, for two of those we’ve been married. I would say that our relationship is pretty solid. But having children can challenge even the most solid of relationships. There is something about a lack of sleep, constant nappy changes and crying babies that puts pressure on a relationship. You can quite easily find yourself negotiating and playing games of who did what at three am that isn’t much fun for anyone. It’s also not the best time to discover that you and your partner have different views or approaches to raising children, and that things aren’t going to be quite as you imagined in your fantasy white picket fence family daydreams.
Be financially ready. Having children is expensive. But having children can also be very, very expensive depending on how you decide to spend your money raising your children. I’ve often heard it quoted that money is one of the most common things that couples argue about alongside housework. Add into the mix the costs of a new baby and a reduced household income, and money can quite easily put pressure and stress on a new family. But it doesn’t need to if you spend and save to the extent that is affordable to you and your circumstances.
Start a family for the right reasons. By this I mean you need to feel ready to have children. Children take up a lot of energy and space in your life. Literally and figuratively. They are all consuming. They are hard work. They are constant. Having children changes the focus from “I” and “we” to “us” and “them”. You need to be endlessly selfless, giving, loving and patient. My husband and I did not take the decision to start a family lightly. We were ready and fully prepared for our lives to be turned upside down. But even so, it has not been easy. However, I think it would have been much harder if we hadn’t both been ready to start a family. We would have been more doubtful of ourselves, perhaps even resentful that our lives have been temporarily turned upside down. Of course, as new parents we have been unsure of ourselves at times and questioned our decision once or twice when the going has gotten really tough, but we have both always come back to the fact that starting a family was the best decision we ever made, and knowing that we started a family for the right reasons is one of the best feelings ever.
What would you add to this list, or what advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a family? Do you think there is ever a “right” time to have a baby?