I get asked a good bit for advice about kids and starting a family…. and one of the most common questions I get is
“How do you know that you are ready for kids?”
Here’s the thing…. no one is ever fully ready to have children.
It’s a huge life changing decision…. something that should be thought about, talked about and prayed about.
There’s no magic number of years, there’s never enough time to prepare financially…. there’s no best way to even prepare yourself emotionally for the load of emotions that come with children.
But there are a few things that I always tell people that they should consider when thinking about starting a family:
1) Make sure you are on the same page as your spouse.
- Having children will not “fix” a relationship or make you any closer to your spouse. Yes, there is a bond there but it’s not always a nice relaxing cute bond that you have. Having children is a wonderful thing, but it can also be hectic and exhausting at times. If you are not on the same page there is a very good chance that one spouse will be doing a bulk of the baby duties, which will cause some hurt feelings (took two of y’all to make the baby, takes you both to care of the baby). Being on the same page needs to go further than just the decision to have kids. You also need to be thinking about down the road….. Talk about how you want to raise your children…. parenting styles that you like and don’t like. I truly believe that all of this should be talked about before having children, it will make things just a tiny bit easier later on.
2) Prepare Financially
- I really don’t think that anyone is ever really prepared financially to have children but it’s always good to plan ahead for certain things. If you are already stretching your family pretty thin, it’s probably not the best idea to have children at the moment. Get some debt paid down, build up your savings a bit, come up with a good budget and stick to it! I’m not saying that you have to be debt free before having kids (although if you can do that, that is amazing!) I’m just saying that you are going to want to consider all of the cost that comes with having children and factor that into a budget so you and your family can live comfortably.
3) Once you realize that it’s not about you….. you understand.
- I truly think that some people are born with a natural parental instinct. However, not everyone who becomes parents have that natural instinct. Once you realize that it’s really not about you anymore… you get it! If you are going into thinking “I want a cute baby….. look how cute all this baby stuff is” (yes I have heard this multiple times) …...you know the typical “baby fever” talk … you don’t quite get it yet. Once you have the mindset of “I want to grow our family, raise this child to be a good person. I’m ready for the good times and the bad. I am ready for the great times and the heartache. I am ready to put someone else ahead of me.”….. this is when you’re getting it. And if that sounded a lot like wedding vows, that because it truly is about the same. When you and your spouse were married, you become 1, you became a family… you made vows to each other that you both intend to keep…. and as 1 (this is key… as 1) you both need to put your wants and needs aside for your children. (Now, I truly believe in the power of keeping your spouse first and your marriage a priority, but I can talk about that later.) You have to be willing to give up your time and freedom for this new little human.
So, a big clue is that if you have read through all of this and completely agree…. you are probably ready to grow your family. If you read through all of this and you are completely terrified, you probably aren’t ready to be a parent and you know what… that is completely okay! Not everyone is cut out for parenthood and that’s okay……. because there are some amazing benefits to being the “Fun Aunt or Uncle” (blood or honorary).
If you and your spouse are thinking about kids, talk & pray about it. Parenting is hard stuff, but it’s also one of the most fulfilling joyous experience ever.