Perhaps you've fantasized about a "mini me" that looks just like you. You may have even looked at your friends with babies in strollers and grown wistful. But how do you know if you're ready to have kids of your own? It involves a whole lot of growing up, first of all. When you're ready to let kids be the center of your lives, you may be ready, for starters. "I had coffee today with a grandmother of a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old who says her daughter (an attorney now in real estate development) and son-in-law (a doctor) expect the kids to fit into THEIR lives rather than creating a child-centered home. I don't mean child-centered in the sense of spoiling or doing everything for the kids, but acknowledging you've got to come home from work at a reasonable time, you have to be there to read the bedtime stories and handle the hissy fits," says Linda Carlson, a parent of two who are (thankfully) now 23 and 28.
"You've got to be prepared for the fact that everything takes longer and that your activities have to be planned around naps and meals and diaper changes (or potty breaks). And down the road, you have to help with the homework, attend the sports events, sit on the hard bleachers during the concerts, show up for parent-teacher conferences and dry the tears. Kids don't have ear infections or broken bones on any convenient schedule and advocating for them at school, whether it's a special needs situation, a bad teacher or a budget that threatens your child's program, is similarly inconvenient and worse yet, frustrating!" says Carlson.
1. Are you eager for a family?
The biggest signs that you're ready to have kids is, quite simply, that you're both excited and eager to start a family, and you're feeling settled financially, says Dr. Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist. "You need to be ready for the increased responsibility and changes that a baby will bring. It's helpful if your life as a couple is running smoothly when you start trying to make room for the new addition to the family," says Greer.
2. Do you have a financial plan?
"You and your partner have a budget and financial plan and you stick to them. You are able to contribute to your savings and your retirement while still living the lifestyle that you would like," says David Hryck, a prominent New York City tax lawyer.
3. Do you both have the capacity for empathy?
"You need to see that your partner can be empathic and compassionate with you as a prerequisite for knowing how well she or he will empathize with a child’s pain, worries, fears, and needs. Every one of us has a different level of capability," says Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills child, family, and relationship psychotherapist, author, The Self-Aware Parent, and co-starring on 'Sex Box' on WE tv. Know your partner in and out before you have a baby.
4. Do you have an emergency fund?
We all know children are expensive and life tends to throw curve balls. If you have an emergency fund you are in a good position moving forward as you plan to start a family, says Hryck.
5. Are you financially stable?
Obviously this changes depending on the couple but is something that should be discussed. It's important to see where you stand in your careers as they pertain to welcoming in kids, says Hryck.
6. Do you own a car?
Depending on where you live, owning a car fit for children and plans to buy a house are also very important, says Hyrck. Having done this already or the means to do it in the near future is another clear sign.