So you think you and your partner are ready to start a family. It's been a few years of marriage, your biological clock is ticking, and you've got baby fever. You feel like you finally are at a point in your life where you could take care of another human being. You want to raise a child.
How are you supposed to know if you are truly ready? How does anyone know?
There are a few key questions you can start asking yourself to help you understand if it's now the right time. Here are some things to think through with your partner.
Are you eager to start a family?
This might sound like a stupid question, but it's one that everyone needs to ask. The absolute biggest signal that you are ready to start a family is quiet simply because you are so excited to. Even with all the huge changes that you know will come with it, you still have a sense of excitement. You and your partner have had the hard conversations and feel that you both would do a great job as parents together.
Furthermore, you know you are having a family for the right reasons. You aren't thinking about it only because your mom has been pressuring you, for example. You aren't feeling like you have to have a family because everyone else is but because you want to be a parent. This is a sign you are on the right path.
Do you have a financial plan in place?
In 2014, The USDA released a report that revealed that raising a kid born in 2013 actually costs between $250,000 and $300,000 on average. It’s something you ought to consider when looking at where your desire to have kids, your finances, and your career intersect. While a baby is adorable, they certainly aren't free and it's going to cost a lot more than a few diapers.
Getting yourself a financial planner can be a great first step in finding out if you are ready to bring a new one into the world. They can help look at your finances and tell you how much you need to save first. They can show you where to cut costs so you can save more each month. Furthermore, if you are looking to adopt a child they can help you find a budget that is right for you.
Are you OK with how your life will change?
Do you love to party on the weekends without a care in the world? Do you love having free time to go see movies whenever you want? Could you not bear to live with the idea you couldn't go out on a whim? If so, then you are not ready for a child. There are a lot of changes you will face when you have a child - like seeing friends less, having to set strict routines, and foregoing nights out. You will have to be OK with the fact that someone else comes first and you can't do whatever you want to do at all times anymore.
These are sacrifices, but for those who are ready to have kids they know it is absolutely worth it. There are many positive ways your life will change if you have a child for the right reasons. You must be willing to make the sacrifices, but it's OK to feel that they might not all be easy all the time. What is important is knowing that you are willing.
Do you have a good support system?
There is a reason that the saying goes "it takes a village to raise a child". While you probably won't need an actual village full of 100 people, you definitely will need some help. Even if you consider yourself to be the type of person that doesn't ever need help and can do it all on their own, raising a child is a whole other beast.
Your partner will be a great resource for you of course, but you will want support outside of that as well. Do you have family in the area that would be willing to help babysit? Do you have friends with children that would step up and help you if you need it? Sometimes you might simply need close co-workers you can vent to. Make sure you have those people in your circle.
Are you physically ready?
Being physically fit and healthy makes it easier to start a family. As a couple, you should decide how you feel about the fact that getting pregnant may not come easily, and what you want to do if it doesn’t. You should also talk about whether or not you want to share with friends and family that you’re trying, or wait until much later in the process. Sometimes it can take years for a couple to get pregnant, so it's important to talk about the problems you might face beforehand. Before you begin trying, go to a doctor for a family planning consultation. They can help make sure that you are both in great physical shape by taking your blood work, for example, and fix problems beforehand.
Do you have a strong relationship?
Having a child can make a great relationship even stronger, but will make a broken one even worse. While there are countless amazing single parents out there who start the process alone or find themselves splitting after their kid is born, if your relationship is on rocky ground, having a child certainly won’t make anything better. If you are constantly fighting with your partner now, it's a good idea to fix your problems before you begin trying for a baby. You can talk to a licensed therapist and get counseling if it is necessary. A child brings in a whole new level of responsibility that is not easy for most couples, especially a couple in turmoil, to handle.
Each of these questions is designed to help you think deeply about starting a family. If you and your partner have had these important discussions and don’t foresee any problems, then you are probably ready to take that next step. Beginning a family is a wonder experience and one that you two should cherish.