A woman used to be an old maid if she hadn’t started a family by the time she was 25. But expectations have changed. In 2016, women in their early 30s had the highest birth rate in the United States. It’s common for women and their partners to decide that they want to do other things before having a kid. There are good reasons for this decision. Parenthood should not be taken lightly, so here are three things you must know before starting a family.
It’s not about you anymore
People without kids often wake up in the morning and think, “What should I do today?” But when you have a child, your first thought in the morning and your last thought at night is about them. You wonder if they’re eating enough food, or if they’re talking enough, or if you should switch them to a new brand of diapers. In short, your biggest concern stops being about you and starts being about this tiny human you’re trying to raise.
When you’re young and child-free, you’re also less likely to have a will. In fact, older people are more likely to write wills than people in their 20s and 30s. But when you have a kid, you can’t leave that kind of stuff to chance anymore. It’s a good idea to sit down and do a few things, including writing a will. The months before the baby arrives are also an ideal time to compare life insurance plans. It’s not common, but it’s certainly possible for both parents to die at the same time. If that happened, which family member could care for your child? How would they get money to do that?
Raising a kid from birth to age 17 costs about $14,000 a year. That’s more than the salary you’d make from many part-time jobs. Going out for dinner two or three times a week with your spouse might no longer be feasible if, for instance, the baby needs a special type of formula that’s twice as expensive as the regular stuff.
The day-to-day expenses are bad enough, but you’ll also need to think about things like college tuition. And if the public schools in your area aren’t good enough, you’ll have to decide whether you can cut back even further and send your kid to a local private school. If kids and a traditional mortgage isn’t feasible, then a split-rate home loan is worth considering.
Once they’re out of diapers and in school, you’ll need to set aside money for extracurricular activities. If you already have to stick to a strict budget without kids, think long and hard about what else would change about your finances once a baby shows up.
It puts stress on your relationship
When you fell in love with your partner, you no doubt thought about how great it would be to raise children with them. And the truth is, there are lots of good parts. But adding a child to your relationship will also reveal cracks that you might not have known existed before.
A healthy relationship can usually weather these cracks. If you can communicate well with your partner, and if you’re truly on the same team, then you can get through the roughest months and years with a new child. But let’s say that one of you often does more housework than the other partner. It seemed fine when there were no kids, but now, a lot more work has to be done, and you feel overwhelmed. Meanwhile, your partner doesn’t see what the big deal is.
You can’t just ignore these problems. If you do, you’re risking the complete breakdown of your marriage. It’s best to address any looming issues before the baby is here. You want to raise kids in a loving home, not a mutually resentful one.