This checklist can help you decide if it's really time.
Well then, it might be worth it to ask yourself the same questions you might ask yourself before getting a dog.
So I've taken an article with a quiz for prospective dog owners and adapted it for humans.
These questions all apply somehow and are in many ways even more practical than the ones most people ask themselves when thinking about babies.
So, here are the 10 questions adapted for humans:
1. Why do you want a baby?
Do you feel left out with your pregnant friends? Are you worried you're getting too old? Does your sister/best friend/mother/mother-in-law believe it's time? Is your partner pressuring you? Or do you think it's time even though he doesn't?
Are you gambling that a baby will lock down a stalled relationship and get you that wedding you've always wanted?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, that's not a good sign.
2. Do you have the time?
Do you have a job that requires loads of attention and energy? Do you already have other children (or even just one) and find it hard to manage?
Do you love to read, do yoga, meditate, travel, or have drinks with friends?
Babies are a 24/7 job.
I'll go one further. Babies are a 60/60/24/7/365 job that never ends — ever. Once the fanfare dies down, it can be incredibly labor-intensive, stressful, exhausting, tedious, time-consuming work.
3. Do you have the money?
Babies are free and fun to make but expensive to maintain.
Do you have the money to feed them well? Can you give them a good home and the basics they need to survive and thrive? Will you be able to save for a good education?
If you struggle every week just to keep a roof over your head and put food on the table, maybe having a child right now isn't practical.
4. Who will be taking care of the baby?
Caring for a baby is so much more work than you will ever know until you actually have one.
You may automatically think your partner, friends, and family will help, but that's not always the case.
- Your partner may not take to parenting as well as you'd like.
- Your parents might be burned out from helping another sibling.
- Your friends aren't obligated to do anything for you.
If you think you can go it alone with an unsupportive partner or no support network, spend some time with someone doing that to get an idea of what it's really like.
5. Is this a gift?
A baby can be a gift. Lots of women have babies for everyone except themselves.
Maybe your mother wants grandchildren, or the in-laws want to carry on the family name.
Does a sibling or friend want you to get on the same page so your kids will be close in age?
If you're having a baby to satisfy someone else, consider that a gift.
6. What will the baby do during the day?
You might think this is one thing that will all just work itself out, but it's a much more loaded question than you realize.
- Are you going to stay at home?
- Will your parents help?
- Will you get daycare?
- What kind of daycare do you want?
- Are your parents too old to help?
- Or too far away?
- Do they know what a baby/toddler needs developmentally?
- Do they even want to help?
- Maybe they've already helped one or two of your siblings, and they're done.
- What if you think you'll be a stay-at-home mom, but then you hate it, or you plan to work at home with your child there, but you realize it won't work?
- What if you love being at home when you assumed you'd go straight back to work?
- Do you have a backup plan and the money to execute it?
(If these questions are overwhelming you now, imagine trying to process them when you're exhausted with a screaming baby in your arms.)
If this question is catching you off-guard, you need to do some research.
Start asking questions, looking around, and budgeting.
The more options you have, the better because the fact is, you won't know what you really need until you're in the thick of it.
Better too many options than too few.
7. Do you know what kind of child you want?
Yes, think about it that way.
What kind of a person do you want your child to be?
Once you know, start paying attention. Watch the people around you.
Find someone you admire, whose kids are turning out great, and you really, genuinely like. Whose kids actually are how you want yours to be.
Study those parents and figure out if you could be like them.
Nobody will do it precisely the same, but certain parenting behaviors are more helpful than others.
9. Are you prepared?
Yes, you need the crib, the bedding, clothes, bottles, diapers, etc.
But there's another side to preparedness.
Are you prepared to face the challenges and chaos this baby will bring?
The sleep deprivation? The terror of rushing a sick baby to the hospital at 3 am when you haven't slept in days.
Do you have a plan for support in case you get postpartum depression? What about anxiety attacks? I have a daycare mother who developed inexplicable severe panic attacks after having one of her children.
Are you committed to ensuring your baby gets the parenting they need and not just what seems coolest or easiest?
Are you willing to give up the independence you will never get back and become a totally different person? Having a baby will require all of this from you and more.
Are you prepared for that?
9. If you have a partner, have you discussed rules and boundaries and not just for the kids?
Have you set rules and boundaries for parenting as well as yourselves?
- Does your partner want equal input, or do you assume they will defer to you on everything baby-related?
- Will someone's mother want to run the show, and is that okay?
- Are you going to be strict or slack parents? Will you even want the same rules for your kids?
- Will you both agree not to undermine each other?
- Does one of you need to have a certain number of kids? Can that ideal change in the face of reality?
- Will there be rules about the kind of food you'll feed your child?
- The sports and activities you want them to do?
- The lifestyle you want for them?
- Do you have rules about housework? If you're expected to do all of it and take care of a newborn, it will break you.
- Are your finances merged, or do you just split the bills? Once you're no longer making your full wage or any wage, where will your money come from?
- Will you have spending rules once there isn't as much money coming in? Do you need to set limits on new shoes or golf games so you can avoid conflict before it happens?
The list of issues that will come up is endless, so having rules and boundaries is an excellent way to open the lines of communication.
They'll probably be subject to change, but at least you'll be talking.
10. Do you feel good about it?
Does thinking about it give you the feeling?
You know what feeling I mean.
It's that feeling of dread you get in the pit of your stomach even as you're smiling.
Maybe you know you're not ready, or you don't think you're with the right partner.
Maybe right now, you just love your job, or friends, or hobbies, or passions.
It doesn't matter who else thinks you're ready.
If you think you're not ready- you're not.
So is having a child the same as having a dog? I don't know. I've never had a dog.
What I do know is that bringing new life into the world is a reality-altering responsibility.
You owe it to the person you're creating to give it at least as much thought as you would be expected to if you were getting a dog.
Having kids is so much more than just snuggles and kisses. You'll love that baby more than life itself, but it will rock your world and turn it upside down.
This common-sense checklist might just help you decide if you're really ready to go all-in right now.