Thinking About Children? Here’s How to Know You’re Ready
Deciding to have children is a big commitment, but how can you be sure you’re ready? Whether you’re debating planting the seed, or have already put a bun in the oven, something inside is telling you you’re ready to ditch your childless life and take the plunge into the kiddie pool. And unless you actually agree with Dwight Schrute’s claim that being a mom is the easiest job in the world, you’re ready and willing to take on all the challenges, and more importantly joys, of parenthood.
While it’s hard to fully prepare for the sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, or painful breastfeeding, that doesn’t mean you’re not ready to have children. If you’re thinking about kids, consider the following. Do any of these five points ring a bell?
1. You’re not afraid of change
Not only are you not afraid of change, but you embrace it with enthusiasm. That’s the attitude you’ll need as a new parent. Your entire life is about to be flipped upside down, and yes, while the good will outweigh the bad, change is an inevitable part of your post-baby life. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Parenting says that the birth of a child could very well change you for the better.
2. You’re willing to make personal sacrifices for someone else
Sure, many other commitments in your life require sacrifice — marriage, career, even the decision to compete in a triathlon. All these things require sacrifices on your part, but none is as significant as that of deciding to have a child. Consider this: Marriage is probably better described as compromise, not sacrifice. And in your career, for instance, your sacrifices (i.e., late nights, working weekends, etc.) will eventually lead to a promotion and a higher salary. So, as you can see, knowing you’re ready to have a child is quite different from other perceived sacrifices you’ve made throughout your life as an adult.
Maybe you’re considering children, but are still pondering things like, “how will I function on two hours of sleep a night or survive the constant breastfeeding?” If so, you’re not alone. In an article published on Babble, Michelle Horton points out the important difference in whether you’re already making such sacrifices, and the fact that you’re willing to make the sacrifices that come along with parenting. You’re well-aware that patience-testing challenges are an inevitable part of raising a child, so the fact that such an idea doesn’t scare you off means you’re ready to accept a new life that will no longer be solely centered around yourself.
3. You don’t consider the decision as an either-or
Newsflash: It’s 2017, and gone are the days of meaning that having a child forces you into being a stay-at-home parent until the end of time. In fact, if you’re someone who is goal-oriented, having a child doesn’t mean you have to give up your career or other ambitious plans for the future. If you look at having a baby as an addition to your life, rather than a future of giving up your own life and needs (although, this doesn’t negate the aforementioned subject of sacrifices), you’re on the right track.
4. You and your partner discuss parenting styles and future finances
If you’re thinking about starting a family, it’s likely you and your partner have already broached the subject. And one important aspect that comes along with having children is how you’ll actually raise them. Have you ever wondered what kind of mother or father your partner will be? And whether you’ll be on the same page? Well, while it’s tough to nail the whole parenting thing with zero hiccups whatsoever, partners who are a united front will likely enjoy a bit of a smoother ride than those who are constantly at opposite ends of the parenting spectrum.
If you and your partner are already talking about your future parenting styles, it’s a good sign. Maybe you both agree that you’ll never let your kids bring an iPad to dinner every time you see a child with a device at a restaurant. Or perhaps your partner mentions that their company’s new insurance plan has upped their coverage for dependents, and they’re now offering great options for children. Well, anyone who mentions these types of things, whether they be discipline-related comments in passing, or important financial conversations including the future of your family, it’s time to take note. You and your partner just may be on the road to minivan or SUV bliss.
5. You recognize you’re a work in progress
You’re not perfect, and you’ve accepted that. You’re aware of your strengths, but are also in tune with areas you can improve upon. As Romper notes, “Once you accept yourself, and accept life has limitations, you’re doing pretty darn well at this whole adult thing.” Similarly, when you’re a parent, or ready to be one, knowing yourself, along with any applicable limitations that go along with the job, is key. Can you imagine trying to wrap your head around parenting skills (i.e. battling a toddler during nap time, anyone?) when you’re not even sure of yourself? Well, realizing that no one, especially no parent, is perfect, is the first step. The simple fact that you acknowledge this speaks volumes of your potential as a well-equipped mommy or daddy to be.