Oh, imagine that little bundle of joy, all warm and soft and baby-smelling. Bringing a little person into your family is an exciting and wonderful experience. However, it comes with a lot of responsibility. You may never feel ready to carry that load, but there are some conversations that you and your spouse need to have to ensure you are successful at this whole parenting thing.
Here are 14 questions to consider (with your spouse) as you go about growing your family:
1. How do our fights end?
The amount you and your spouse fight isn't necessarily an indicator of the strength of your relationship. However, the way you end your fights is a good indicator. If you want to understand if your relationship is healthy enough to accommodate a dependent person, evaluate how your fights end. If fights with your spouse end with forgiveness, solutions, compromise and understanding, it's a good indicator that you are ready to face the new challenges that come with having a baby.
2. What do "mom" and "dad" mean to you?
There are so many different kinds of parenting styles out there. Do you believe in free-range parenting or do you value a more disciplined style? Before having a baby, get on the same page with your partner about what your definitions of parenting are.
3. Will we circumcise our boy?
This is a decision that you and your spouse need to make together, and there's a lot to consider. What are the health concerns? How do your religious beliefs play into it? Should you make this big decision on your child's behalf?
4. How do we handle new experiences?
New experiences tend to force us out of our comfort zones (for better or for worse). Take a look at how you and your spouse react when faced with a new experience. For example, try going to Xenses where you'll journey through ecosystems without your sense of sight, experience flight like a bird and try to wrap your mind around optical illusions such as a street that's flat but looks like you're walking uphill. Experiencing new things together will prepare you for the grand new experience of parenting.
5. How often do we laugh?
Any parent will tell you that a parent has got to have a good sense of humor. Make sure you two have developed the ability to see the beauty in frustrating situations.
6. What's our support system like?
It really does take a village to raise a child, so take stock of your village. Do you have family and friends you can go to for advice and support as you parent your kid? As you make the decision to have a child, work on developing your community of people.
7. What religion or belief-system will you raise your child on?
It goes without saying that, when it comes to raising your child, you and your spouse need to support the same core values. For instance, if you are teaching your child to pray while your spouse is teaching him that there is no God, you are setting your little one up for a lot of confusion. Outline together what values are important to pass on to your child.
8. What will we do for child care?
You need to take inventory of how your child will be cared for. Will one of you stay at home full time? Will you put your little one in day care? Take a look at your options to decide the best way to make sure your child is cared for.
9. How will we make time for ourselves as a couple after we have a child?
Having a baby is going to change your relationship with your partner no matter what. (In so many good ways.) But adding another person to your family means the ways you spent time with each other before are going to be different. Create a plan to make sure you don't neglect quality time with your partner once you have a child. Maybe you need to plan weekly date nights, morning rituals or regular parents-only vacations.
10. How will we discipline our child?
Without explicitly having this conversation you may think that you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to discipline and realize too late that you haven't yet come to a consensus. Before your child is born, decide together where you stand when it comes to spanking, timeout, privilege loss, conversations and other methods of discipline.
11. What will our sex life look like after having a child?
Changes in your body and lifestyle will inevitably affect your sex life. Take some time to consider these effects so that you can continue to have thriving intimate relations.
12. How will we share baby responsibilities?
Is one of your going to be on diaper duty while the other is in charge of bathtime? Or maybe you'll switch off days. Decide how you are going to share the added responsibilities of a little baby in your world so that you are adequately supporting each other.
13. Should we co-sleep?
Some parents feel strongly against co-sleeping (afraid of squishing the baby, don't believe in sharing a bed with children, etc.) or for it (easier for breast-feeding, sync sleeping schedules, etc.). Talk about this issue so that you and your spouse are on the same page.
14. Are we financially capable of providing for a child?
You don't have to be rich to have a child, but you might need to examine your funds and reallocate spending to accommodate your child's needs.
Having a baby is a wonderful and exciting change, but before taking that plunge give yourself the care you need. Take a trip to Xenses where you can drink lemonade from a lemonade tree, rest in hammocks, float through a soothing river of mud as well as enjoy exciting experiences like flying through the air as a bird and finding yourself in the middle of an optical illusion.