Am I ready to have a baby? It’s a loaded question, and honestly, most adults aren’t ever 100-percent sure of the answer. Even if you’ve checked off all the major milestones for becoming a stable, respectable adult, there’s nothing that can ever quite prepare you entirely for bringing a new life into the world.
Millennials in particular struggle with knowing the right time to have kids or if they even want to have kids at all. Some feel indifferent about it, but others feel guilty and even afraid they’ll regret not becoming a parent. If you’re still considering whether you want to have a baby or not, start by doing these first.
Lower Your Monthly Expenses as Much as Possible
You’ll have to budget if you want to be a good parent. Unless you’re lucky enough to be so financially well-off that you don’t ever even have to check your bank account, you’ll need to reconsider how you allocate money when you have a baby. Parenting involves immediate expenses, like diapers and formula, but it also makes you reconsider your entire big picture.
What will retirement look like now that you have a child? How much will your savings change now that you have a future college fund to finance? Will the rising cost of living in your area be manageable when you need more space for your family?
You don’t have to answer all these questions today, but you should get comfortable with a budget. See how much you can reasonably save each month to figure out whether a baby is even a financially smart choice at this point in your life. The easiest way to start is addressing non-essential expenses and lowering debts.
Student loan debt will likely be a part of your life for years to come, so consider learning how to refinance student loans for lower monthly installments.
Go On a Trip You’ve Always Dreamed About
If it’s a week-long excursion through Japan or a tour of Europe, go on the big vacation you’ve always wanted to before having a baby. Traveling with kids is more expensive and more difficult than it is when you’re single or in a relationship. One of the biggest concerns people on the fence about kids have is that being parents will make them miss out on all the things they want out of life.
This can happen if you don’t prioritize living for yourself while you can. There’s nothing selfish about enjoying life to the fullest entirely for you before there are children in the mix. Becoming a parent should be an adventure you sign up for, not a path you reluctantly let yourself be led down because it seems like the right thing to do.
Start Researching Parenting
Envisioning yourself with a baby is one thing, but do you see yourself taking your kid to soccer practice or dealing with a moody teenager? There are so many chapters to parenting, and you need to realistically contemplate all of them.
Read up on parenting articles now and get an idea of what types of challenges you’ll likely face if you have a child. Ask yourself whether you could handle having a child with special needs, disabilities or health problems. Consider how you’ll deal with disciplining misbehavior and addressing heavy topics. This is a lifetime commitment, and your child will be counting on you.
At the end of the day, it’s perfectly fine if you decide to be a great aunt or uncle or babysit your friends’ kids instead of having your own. You aren’t obligated to be a parent, but if you really feel like it’s something that calls to you, don’t be afraid to take the call, either.