So you're thinking about having a baby...
That's awesome. I'm glad.
Being a parent is the BEST thing ever. It changes you - for the better. Having children awakens your heart to the truest form of love. It teaches you patience, kindness, goodness, gratitude, and self-control. It may be overwhelming sometimes (oftentimes...), but it is 100% worth it.
As you prepare for the biggest adventure of a lifetime - the wildest ride, the most wonderful of miracles - consider these 5 tips:
1. Go to school. Prior to having kids, I earned a Bachelors degree in English and a Masters degree in Counseling. I loved school - the collaborative learning, the lectures, the debates. The world of academia speaks to my soul.
That said, I'm so glad that I completed all of that education before breastfeeding, babywearing, and singing the ABCs.
I'd like to go back now and get my PhD, but I feel "torn" between two worlds. I would love to be a professor, doing research and inspiring the minds and hearts of the next generation's leaders. More importantly, however, I want to inspire the minds and hearts of the two little girls that live in my house (and who mean the world to me).
I do realize that it is possible to be a college student and a mom (kudos to those who are pursuing that route)...but it's a lot easier if you can cram for tests, write papers, and read thick books before a baby enters the picture.
And speaking of pictures...
2. Invest in a good camera + take a photography class. Maybe photography isn't really your "thing." Three words: It Will Be. As soon as you see your baby's flawless skin, sparkling eyes, and toothless smile, you'll be a picture-taking maniac. You'll take pictures of chubby thighs, big yawns, and teeny tiny toes. And you'll wish that you could take better pictures with a better camera. Do it now - while you have the time and the money. Buy a DSLR. Sign up for a photography class. Read your camera manual. Become a photography pro.
3. Get fit. NOW is the time. Put away excuses. Start biking, running, swimming, hiking, anything. What's that you say? You're too busy with your 9-5 career, your friends, your fun? Not to burst your bubble or anything, but you don't know what busy is...yet. If you can teach yourself to make time now, it will be easier later. Besides, it's way easier to go into a pregnancy fit and toned than it is to start your pregnancy with extra weight and less endurance. Plus, labor is kind of like a marathon (really). Being fit is bound to make your experience better.
4. Travel the world. Pack your bags and plan a trip to Australia, Africa, or Asia. Do something humanitarian while you're at it. Drop everything and leave for a month or two. Those kind of experiences will shape your life and alter your perspective. And you should do it now - before you have kids. Your job is important, but life experiences like this are more important.
5. Take a road trip around the US. You're not the world-hopping type? Well, you should really put your fears aside and go abroad anyway. If you can't be convinced to do that, then at least hop into the car with your spouse and see as many states as possible. Visit friends. See the sights. Help people along the way. Traveling pre-kids is the easiest so take advantage of spontaneity now. You can still travel after kids, of course, but it will be...different. It will involve car seats and crying and naptimes and meltdowns. Just think about all of the things you have to look forward to (ha!).
Other things to do before you have kids: buy/rent a house in a pedestrian-friendly community, strengthen your marriage every day, turn off the TV, and learn to appreciate the small things.
Before you know it, you're going to be a parent (congrats). Until then, relax, laugh a lot, and love others. All of those things are important skills you'll want to have when your little one eventually enters your life.
YOUR TURN: What other tips would you give to your pre-preg friends?
the travel the world thing has always been on my list of things to do.
i have however been inspired by this family that pre-planned a couple of years in advance to take 6 months off from work and school when their kids got older. They then proceeded to travel the world and give their kids an experience that not many kids get.
i would love to plan this for when my kids are like 13,11 and 9. I think it would be a very memorable time for us all.
College and children can work quite well if you are willing and able to do it. My life didn't plan out in a straight line like the blog above, but being a single mom of a 3 year old, working part-time, and going to school full-time can work.
I so wish I had bought a better camera and taken photography classes before we had our baby. I take hundreds of pictures a week and only a small portion are good.
Go on dates with your husband....lots of them. We always thought we were so busy with work and school but we didn't even know what busy was. I can't even tell you the last time we went out together. :(
I think knowing who you are and being confident in it is such an important part of motherhood. If I could go back and tell myself to work on something prior to having kids, that's what it would be.
I would start living on just your husbands income. Having one parent stay home with the baby is not a luxury, it is a choice. It is important to be able to be the one actually raising your children, not leaving it up to a daycare worker.
I have been wanting to take a photography class for a while. I get comments all the time about what great shots I get of my kids. I know I could do better. And I would love to get my hands on an SLR camera.
That's so not what I was expecting by the title of this post, but as usual you are spot on. I actually got pregnant in my last semester of college. Those last (and first) three months were miserable. I still wonder how I managed to graduate with honors. I think pregnancy/babies and college just don't mix well.
I really wish I would have thought about tip #2 and photography before having a baby. Kids are just so hard to photograph sometimes!
These are great tips! We had an unplanned pregnancy before we were even married so we didn't get a lot of those things "checked off the list". However, we are really enjoying learning how to travel and continue to do the things we want to do WITH a child. I do definitely wish that we had started with less debt, more savings, and without a brand new mortgage!! Oh well, that's life isn't it? Unpredictable, but fantastic!
These are great tips -I wish someone had told me this 10 years ago. My husband and I got married, bought our first house and had a baby all in the same year (I was even pregnant on our honeymoon which was a bit of a bummer!)
So many good thoughts here from everyone. Definitely get into shape and eat right. :-) Giving birth itself is an athletic event worth training for, and baby needs a healthy, strong place to grow for nine months. Next, nurture your marriage so it is thriving and a good environment for children. Next, make some financial goals and have a budget in place. Then, by all means travel whenever you can, pursue your career--especially if it is one you love--but make sure your list of things you want to do before kids isn't so long that you put off having kids too late either. Our bodies are only fertile for so long . . . and motherhood is too joyous to wait too long!
I just wanted to say that this list made me smile! It looks distinctly similar to my short term goals list, all of which are baby-prep oriented.
The getting into shape tip is really stellar. Start healthy habits yourself before you are teaching them to your young ones by example.
Realize that you cannot plan out every little detail of your life. Whatever comes your way, your better be prepared to make the best of it. Don't tear yourself to shreds if you have to put things on hold or do things a little differently.
Sooo...nothing profound to say... though I'm thinking it'd be nice to go back in time, oh 3.5 yrs ago and read this post when the baby bug first started to hit! Love your thoughts! ..as always :)
I think that being married awhile before having children is a good idea! Making sure the relationship is solid and both parties are ready to be parents. Of course, I suppose "ready" is a
is a relative term. Cindi
Definitely get control of your finances in addition to the other things you have listed here. Hubby and I were married for 7 years before we had Sugar, I'm thankful for those years - the foundation we built for our marriage then has helped us when the going got tough on occasion in this parenting journey.
I absolutely agree with all the other comments! I would also add that you should learn how to cook some basic dishes, if you can't or don't cook already. It is just so much more convenient (and cheaper) to eat at home with little ones, especially in the beginning. Additionally, having some meals in the freezer are always a good idea for the first few weeks after the baby is born, but also for the last few weeks when you're too tired and too big to do anything. And maybe even for the first trimester too when you're exhausted and nothing sounds good (at least that was my experience!).
One more thing, maybe not everyone will agree: read pregnancy books and what to expect the first year books (as long as they don't keep you up at night with worry). If you've never had kids and haven't been around them, I found it helpful to KIND OF know what was coming. You never REALLY know until you actually have kids, but I did learn lots of things by reading ahead of time.
I would agree with all of these! #3 made me laugh - the part about thinking you're busy before you have kids. So so true! :) It's definitely ideal to get your body into the best shape possible before conceiving...for your health (and happiness) and for the baby and pregnancy, plus it will definitely improve your chances of conceiving.
I would add just overall improve and healthify your lifestyle...really educate yourself and take a hard look at your current choices. Plus switch to Natural Family Planning which is not only the healthiest form of birth control for the environment and you (and your partner), but it's the healthiest form of birth control to conceive under for the sake of your baby. Ideally you don't want to be on the pill (or even some other form of artificial birth control) when you conceive (or ever really)...you want all of those hormones, chemicals, and nasties out of your body. So get off the pill, detoxify your body, work out, drink alot of clean water, supplement yourself with whole food choices, eat alot of whole grains, veggies, and fruit, start taking folic acid (like Kris mentioned), and start getting adjusted, etc.
Ideally, I think you should talk about as much as possible with your partner beforehand too...how you plan to raise your little one, if one of you is going to be a full-time parent or not and all that entails, how/where you want to deliver your baby, how you envision your pregnancy, etc. etc.
As far as finances, I don't think most people will ever be truly financially "ready", but it's very smart to have things in order and ideally have savings and whatnot. I could probably think of more but this is already long enough :). Great post!
Get your finances in order! I don't mean that you have to eliminate all of your debt, or become financially independent before you have a child, but you need to have a plan in place for how to get out of any debt you have, and you need to have the discipline it takes to pay off debt quickly, save and invest. To have a plan and to be working towards it before you bring a new family member into your fold really does reduce a lot of stress.
Hmmm...I did the opposite of most of the items on your list! ;) If I could go back and do things a teensy bit differently and still end up in the wonderful place that is my life right now, I probably would, but I guess life doesn't work that way.
1) Stop smoking, if you smoke.
2) Lessen alcohol consumption, if you drink.
3) Start taking folic acid, now.
4) Put some savings away.
5) Have a look at your work's maternity leave policy and plan accordingly, if you depend on your income in any way shape or form.
6) Talk to your friends...they may make it soulnd sugar coated but ask them for the REAL dirt on being a mommy.