You and your partner stroll by an adorable baby while you’re walking your dog one afternoon. You’ve talked about having kids before, but now you’re starting to feel like it might actually be time. I’ve rounded up some signs you’re ready for children to help you get to the bottom of whether you’re actually ready to take that step, or if you’re simply suffering from a curable case of baby fever.
Having a baby changes a lot for a couple, particularly when it comes to the number of responsibilities involved in the relationship. I am sure you — like I — have heard of countless couples that have had a baby too soon, and find themselves wanting to tear their hair out when they come to terms with what life is actually like as a parent. Many times these couples might have simply not taken the time to fully discuss with each other if they were ready for the sleepless nights, increased errands, financial changes, and the overall need to put someone else first. When deciding if you’re ready to have a baby, it’s important to have a lengthy, sincere conversation with each other about the elements of parenthood that you’ll need to prepare for, and whether each of you feels equally ready for that leap. Hopefully some of the signs below help guide you in the right direction, and give you some food for thought. Here are 11 signs you and your partner are ready for children.
1. If You’re Ready To Put Someone Else First
You’ve heard this once, and you’ll hear it a million times more. Having a baby is a huge responsibility. Therefore you need to really be sure you and your SO are ready to put another person ahead of yourselves, according to PsychCentral.com. According to the outlet, you and your partner should be prepared to put the baby’s needs before your own, and be able to adhere to the baby’s schedule.
Part of this is feeling like you're planning accordingly. I spoke via email to Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (aka "Dr. Romance"), psychotherapist and author of How to be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, to get her thoughts on planning for a baby. Tessina explains that so many changes will happen from the very moment the baby is born, so it's vital to be prepared. "The day a baby is born, everything is different from the day before," Tessina says. "There is no way to accurately predict how these changes will feel, and the learning curve for new parents is very steep. Planning ahead for what you can anticipate, like finances, helps make the transition easier."
2. If You & Your Partner Are Financially Stable
Speaking of finances, let's talk money. According to newlyweds expert Francesca Di Meglio, who penned a piece on Newlyweds.com, if you don’t think you and your SO can afford a baby, you should definitely wait. Di Meglio suggested taking a hard look at your financial situation and seeing whether you’ll be able to afford the necessities — diapers, clothes, formula, health insurance, and the like. If not, hold off.
To get additional relationship advice, I spoke via email to April Masini, a New York-based relationship and etiquette expert. Masini says that in addition to being financially stable — you should also be mindful of the importance of health insurance. "Having jobs and health insurance will provide for a lot less stress when times are troubled with a child in your family," Masini says. "A sick baby is a lot worse all around when you don’t have health insurance." Don't forget about the importance of life insurance, either.
"Having a life insurance policy in case something happens to one or both of you and the child is left without one or both parents isn’t a sexy subject, but it will help you both understand the non-romantic arena of being a parent," Masini adds.
3. If Your Relationship Is Very Solid
If you and your partner have a rocky relationship, perhaps this isn’t the greatest relationship to bring a baby into, according Edward Kruk, Ph.D., a family policy expert at the University of British Columbia, who spoke to Men’s Health on the topic. Kruk told the outlet, “If there were problems before children came along, those problems typically only get worse—usually much worse.”
Tessina stresses that your relationship should be strong enough to handle the changes that are about to come your way. "Things happen when couples are unprepared, but if there's a chance to prepare, I think creating a solid partnership, learning to solve problems together, and being able to talk about your parenting styles and your hopes and dreams for your children is very powerful," Tessina explains.
Masini adds that it also helps if you and your SO have been together for a while."For instance, knowing your partner for a longer period of time, versus a short period of time, is best," Masini says of preparing to bring children into the mix. "When you quickly have a child after three months of dating, chances are good you’ll have more bumps in the road than if you’ve known your partner for three years."
4. If You Are Both Self-Sufficient
Does your SO constantly need babysitting? If he or she is a baby themselves, likely you guys are not ready to have children of your own. Likewise, if you act like a baby regularly (or still have a selfish side, which is totally OK by the way), you might be the one in the relationship who simply isn’t ready. Masini explains, "Being self-sufficient is not just about finances. Someone who is emotionally self-sufficient or socially self-sufficient is better suited to parenting than someone who is needy and troubled." Stop and consider if you both genuinely fit into the "self-sufficient" mold. If so, that's a good sign.
5. If You’ve Considered Your Job’s Maternity Policy
Maybe this point doesn’t immediately come to mind when you and your SO are discussing having a baby — but it should. You’ll want to have an idea of how much time you’re allowed to take off and what your compensation during that time will be, for example, according to Fit Pregnancy. You might also consider looking into a paternity policy if that’s relevant for you and your SO, the outlet added. Regardless, you both should have an understanding of what post-baby work life will look like for you both as a couple.
6. If You Are Both Ready For Sacrifice
Di Meglio noted in her Newlyweds.com article that when you and your partner have a baby, you’ll be sacrificing a lot of things that you may have once taken for granted — like nights out with friends or sleeping late. For women, this element of sacrifice will begin from the moment you find out you’re pregnant, so you’ll have to be willing to give up some of the lifestyle you’d become accustomed. You both need to be certain that you’re ready to sacrifice in that manner.
7. If You’re Prepared For Those Nights Of Minimal Sleep
Building on that sacrifice point for a second, those solid nights of sleep you’re used to will be no more once there’s a baby around, so you must be sure you’re prepared (at least mentally) for some sleepless nights, according to WhatToExpect.com. If you’re already a couple of people who run on minimal sleep, you might be a whole lot more prepared for this baby thing than you anticipated.
8. If You Have Enough Physical Space For A Baby
Do you have a place in your apartment or house that you can physically fit a crib and baby furniture? If your current space isn’t large enough, are you willing to relocate to a bigger place? Making sure you have room for a baby is something to be mindful of, according to TheBump.com.
9. If You’re Not On The Hunt For Extra Love
Think hard about the reasons you want a baby. If one of them is that you’re looking for extra love, you should rethink having one, according to PsychCentral.com. The outlet noted using a newborn baby’s love to supplement where other love is missing (e.g., a parent, an SO, friends) is never a good idea.
10. Your Age
Plenty of people have children at a young age and the parents and children turn out to be splendid, but statistically speaking you should think about your age when considering whether you and your SO are ready for children. According to research from Ohio State University, if you have your first child before the age of 23 you’re more likely to experience depression due to job or finances. This, of course, isn’t to say having a child before then is off limits or is going to lead to any issues, but it's certainly something for you both to consider.
11. If You Are Both Responsible Adults
Last, but certainly not least, you and your SO should both consider yourselves to be genuinely responsible before deciding to have a baby, according to Fit Pregnancy. Another life will now be in your hands, so each of you should feel ready for that task. You’ll also want to consider how your household responsibilities will add up once the baby is here — like excess laundry, additional trips to the store, more cleanup, etc. — according to Fit Pregnancy. Being responsible enough also means being open and able to having candid conversations about what's to come before you decide to have a child. Masini says having talks about the future of your family is especially important. "Deciding how to raise a child when it comes to education, parenting, discipline and even religion are all talks best had before a child is born," Masini says.
If many of the above signs point to you and your SO, it might mean you’re ready to take that next step and bring a baby into your lives. As mentioned, make sure to talk out these points with each other before deciding to do so, and it might be really beneficial in helping you to decide if you’re truly ready or not.
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