For couples who are certain they want children, timing can be everything. And unlike most things in life these days that we can time down to the smallest detail, pregnancy isn’t guaranteed. For some couples, it can take months; other couples, years; and for some couples, it does not happen at all. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of people out there who experience a “surprise” as well. So how does a couple prepare for having children?
For women, especially, it is important to look at how pregnancy is likely to impact your career. Does she have a job that will allow her to work up until she gives birth? And what is the plan for after the baby is born, with regard to returning to work? For parents who both plan to continue with a career after the birth of the baby, it is important to consider how daycare will be handled. Does at least one person have a flexible enough job that a sick day can be used to stay home with the baby? Can you leave early if the baby becomes sick while at daycare?
Financial stability is also important. Are you able to support yourselves comfortably now? If not, how will you provide for a baby? If so, will you be able to cover the added expenses of a new baby?
Look at your health issues as well. Are both of you healthy enough to manage the duties of caring for a child? Are there any potential health risks to becoming pregnant? Do you feel like you should lose any weight before becoming pregnant? Talk with your doctor if you are on any medications about potential health risks.
Emotional maturity is another important factor to consider. Are you ready to make some lifestyle changes? Being home each night in time for baths and books means a lot fewer nights spent in social engagements. Are you able to put a child’s needs ahead of your own? Examine the reason that you want a child too. Having a child so that someone will love you makes it more about your needs and not the child’s needs.
Talk to your partner about values and beliefs with discipline and behavioral issues. If your partner believes in spanking and you don’t, start talking about these issues now, before you have a child. Discuss how each of you was raised and what sort of family you hope your child could grow up in. If you are having relationship problems, don’t have a child because it will bring you closer together. Instead, a child will allow you less alone time and you will need more than ever to be able to work together as a team.
Deciding when to have a child is a completely personal decision between you and your partner. Keep the lines of communication open and talk about what you feel is the right time.