Adding a child, or additional children, to your family is a major life decision. Before you make that decision, make sure you have considered the ten things listed in this article.
1. Child Care
If you and your partner both work then you are going to need dependable child care. Or maybe you have a family member or friend willing to provide you with affordable child care, that’s great! But if you have to find an in-home provider or daycare center though, this becomes quite a large factor to consider. For one, it’s costly, but more on that later. A major concern is, is there a spot (or multiple spots) open where you would feel comfortable sending your child everyday? It may seem like finding a spot is putting the cart before the horse, but in many areas waiting lists for quality child care are quite long. If you decide it is time to have a child (or another child) make sure you have thought about who will be providing child care and that it is nailed down before the child is born.
2. Individual Time
Some people are fine with spending every minute of their life with their family. Other people love their spouse and kids, but need some time to be independent as well. Think about how much you time you currently have and if you are willing to give that up. When a child is born, your alone time greatly diminishes. It keeps diminishing with each subsequent child. There is nothing wrong with choosing to have an identity outside of being a parent. In fact, having some individuality may make you happier and more patient with your child. If you are not with them all the time, when you are with them you will be more likely to be in the moment and really paying attention.
3. Partner Needs
Does your partner want a child? Have you thought about what a child will mean for your relationship? If your partner is not completely ready for a child, do not try to manipulate them into what you want. A child benefits greatly from having two involved, committed parents. Do not create resentment from your partner by not considering his or her needs. You have to consider how much individual time your partner needs to be happy. How much attention and affection from you. How much a child will change the lifestyle he or she is currently satisfied with. It’s important to work through the decision of adding a child to your relationship together with both of your needs in mind.
Children can be very costly. Child care alone can be hundreds to thousands of dollars per month. Food, clothes, insurance, toys, furniture, school, entertainment, and the list can go on and on. Some people may have family willing to assist, but ultimately this is YOUR child. It is your responsibility to meet their needs in all ways, including financially. You need to consider if you are currently in the position to start supporting another person. If you lose your job, could you and your partner meet a child’s needs still? Do you have any savings? Yes, I know that loads of people have children they cannot afford to provide for. However, this creates a huge amount of stress on a family. Outside assistance is often just enough to barely get by and is not a guarantee. Consider if you really would be comfortable raising a child under the constant shadow of maybe not having rent money each month.
5. Desired Extras
If you like to take frequent vacations, get your hair done monthly, or have the newest technology, then you have to take those things into account before deciding to have a child. You may not be able to get those extra things all the time once you add a child to your life. Going shopping is a whole different event when you have children in tow. Time and money are commodities that end up being primarily devoted to children for most parents. Your life falls into focusing on necessities, rather than luxuries. This isn’t to say you can’t still work certain extras into your life. It is just a reminder to think about what you are willing to give up to have a child.
6. Daily Routine
For people who go to sleep after midnight and roll out of bed about 10:00 a.m., life is about to get turned upside down when you decide to have a child. Babies and toddlers set their own schedule that you must adapt to, and older children need you to be up to feed them breakfast and get them to school. Your daily routine will revolve around meeting your needs and your children’s needs simultaneously. Double the amount of time you take to get ready to go somewhere when you think about having a child. If you already have two kids and you barely have enough time to get them what they need, you may want to really think how a third one will add yet another level to this routine.
7. Home Set Up
I know people can always move or add on if they don’t have enough space for a child, but this isn’t always immediately feasible. You don’t want to move to a neighborhood you don’t want to be in just because the house is larger and you were in a rush. Consider if you have not just a room for a child to sleep in, but extra storage space for their things. Are there already three of you sharing one bathroom? Is there an area for the children’s entertainment, or are you going to be open to sharing your entertainment space? If you can’t imagine adding another person to your current living environment, consider moving before having a child or waiting until you can get more space.
8/9. Physical and Mental Health
Since children are completely dependent on their parents for their survival, it is of the utmost importance that as a parent you are both physically and mentally healthy. If you have a physical or mental health condition, you should be actively managing it. If you have an out of control health concern you may not be fully able to meet the needs of your child. You also have to consider the risks to you and your child through pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period (if applicable). Even if you have no known conditions, go in and get a physical and check on any concerns you may have. Always talk to your doctor and/or mental health professional before moving forward with having a child.
10. Outside Commitments
There are more factors in our lives than just ourselves and our partners. We also have families, jobs, societal concerns, etc. It is probably not the best time to have a child if you are spending all your free time providing care for a sick family member. If you are just starting a new career you need to consider the impact having a child may have on it, and if you are comfortable with that effect. Only you can evaluate all of the commitments and outside influences you would have to face. Think about tackling your current life with a child who has their own wants, needs, and desires to add.
Consider your current level of functioning in all ten areas. Are you barely getting by in any of them? If so, work on strengthening that area of your life before adding another person. I hope this list has helped you evaluate if you are ready for a child (or for another one).
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