This article was co-authored by Johanna Kitzman & Sadie Prise
It feels like the second you get married people are eagerly asking, "so when are you having kids?!" Wow - give me a minute! It seems like most couples get pressure from friends, especially those who already have kids, and family. Those parents who are so excited to become grandparents so they can spoil your littles and cackle while they watch you get your "payback".
I really liked my life before baby. But I also really wanted a baby. The idea of being a mother was fascinating to me, but I was worried that this little one would “disrupt” my life. I know, I probably sound selfish but I’m just being honest. The thought of never having children just wasn’t an option for me. I am very nurturing, and my husband and Great Dane are self-sufficient, so I just wanted a little baby to care for! I told my husband that I either needed a second Great Dane and some chickens or a baby. He sighed and agreed for the baby route. Although, I do still kind of want those chickens. Who doesn’t love fresh eggs?!
I still remember that exact moment I found out I was pregnant. I took three pregnancy tests which were all positive. I must have been in denial. I just sat at the end of our bed and was speechless. Looking back, I am not sure why I was so scared. Maybe it was all the unknown. My husband and I have good paying jobs. We own a home we can grow into. We even live right next to a big park. In almost every regard, we were beyond ready to have children. I just couldn’t help but think of all the change that was coming - with my body, with my marriage, with my whole life. In that moment, I knew my life would never be the same.
From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, your life begins to change. You stop living so much for yourself and start making every decision around baby. I was very conscious of every food and beverage I consumed. I didn’t care too much that I gave up alcohol. I think you can safely have one glass of wine every now and then, but I didn’t. Surprisingly, I didn’t miss it too much. I was more concerned about giving up coffee and sushi! The sacrifices we make for our children. 😊
Your body changes – duh. That’s a given. My body changed in ways I didn’t expect. Every woman is different. Don’t try to compare. Just embrace your marks of motherhood. I bought most of my maternity clothes at thrift stores which was nice to save some money.
One big change that was hard for a specific member of my family was introducing new baby to our dog. It was hard for the dog. She is a great dane with sweet temperament and she was never aggressive or anything like that, but I could tell she was sad and feeling neglected. Before baby, she was a spoiled pup. We did everything with her and she even slept in our bed sometimes. I felt guilty about teaching her to no longer jump up on furniture, no more crazy running outbursts through the house, and she had to get better manners.
Okay, so you get the point. Your WHOLE LIFE changes once you have kids. Do I regret having a child? Absolutely not. Do I mourn the loss of the "good ole days" pre-children? A little bit to be completely honest. There are just some things that won't be the same but that is okay. Having a child has changed things but it has also brought me great fulfillment and joy. Motherhood is quite lovely.
I thought it would be great to hear from a young woman who has not yet entered into motherhood but would like to someday. She has definitely felt the pressure throughout her years of marriage that having kids is the next step! I asked her what kind of advice would she give to someone who wants to have kids when they are ready. What kind of things should they do before having kids?
Here is what Johanna had to say:
"This August I’ll be 30. Come September, my husband and I have been married for 7 years. We got married young and the pressure of having children has been growing steadily over the last few years. Not only from friends and family but also from ourselves. It’s become a weekly conversation about when we should have kids. When do we want to have kids? It’s a hard decision to make, because I don’t think you are ever truly ready.
But we’ve decided there are a few things we definitely want to check off our bucket list before we start trying for children. I’ve gathered our 10 Things to Do Before You Have Children below. It’s an unofficial list that I’m kind of basing my decision off of right now.
Prior to having children, you should travel the world. Or if you’re not much for flying, travel around your home country. Take a car and drive someplace you haven’t been before. Each time I travel I learn something new. Something new about other people, cultures and traditions. But also something new about myself and my partner. And I think it is utterly important to find yourself and find the core piece of your relationship before introducing a child to your family. “Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” - Gustave Flaubert
Find Your Home
My husband and I used to own a home. A really pretty, great starter home. Close to his family, in a cute little neighborhood with a great yard. But it never really felt like home to me. And so we set out on an adventure. We packed up our belongings, stuffed it in our cars and grabbed our dog and drove across the country to California. And that’s where we found our home. It may not be close to family for either of us, but we found a place where we feel comfortable and happy. A place where we can see ourselves raising children and building a future. Where ever that place is to you, take your time to find it. Make sure to listen to your own heart about where that place would be.
Explore Your Local Town
Something that may be frowned upon when you have a child, but definitely ok and doable before. Just go out, explore your local town, have a drink or two in the middle of the day. In the words of Anthony Bourdain "There's something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint, absolutely alone at the bar..."
They say pets aren’t like children, and I’m sure that’s true. But for someone who doesn't have children of her own yet, my dog is like my child. He’s very spoiled, but also very thankful. While he allows some freedom in us being able to travel and go out, he has also taught us more responsibility. How to plan ahead to ensure we have a dog sitter or will be home within a few hours to take him out again. A dog may not be a true child, but I think it’s a great first step to becoming a parent.
While our country has come a long way in treating new moms and parents well, we still have a long way to go. Daycare is extremely expensive all over the country, and sometimes parents don’t have a choice but to give up their career in order to care for their children.
So something else my husband and I are focusing on are our careers. While my husband is building himself a name and a career path in IT, I am working hard on building my own business as a newborn photographer and as a wedding photographer. We do this with the hope that when we have children, I’ll be able to take a year or so off for maternity leave with the support from his salary and with a profitable business of my own where I can take on sessions while my husband is home. We want our main focus to be on our children so having successful and profitable careers prior to that will be very helpful.
Be a Daredevil
I want to go sky diving, hike the Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, bungee jump off of a cliff. I want to go on the scariest rollercoaster ride that exists on Six Flags and drink tequila with a candied scorpion in it (already did that actually!!).
Whatever your daredevil soul is telling you to do, go do it. Because if there is one thing all my friends with kids keep telling me is that if they thought they were scared to do it before, having a child made it even worse. It’s harder to put your “life on the line” when you have children waiting for you at home. So if you’re an adrenaline junkie like me, do the craziest, scariest things you have on your bucket list now when you have the time.
Take Care of Yourself
This will be true even after you have children, but treat yourself to a massage once in a while. Get your nails and toes done when you feel like it. Get that haircut and color at the new fancy salon in town. Because once you have children, making sure your finger nails are on point and your hair is freshly dyed is not going to be your number one priority.
Go on Date Nights
I’m an avid believer in date nights. Even after ten years of dating and almost seven years of marriage, we still do date nights. Not every week, and not on a regular basis, but we do make sure we have special date nights. When it’s just me and him, where we dress up and do something fun for just the two of us. Something that’s not just a regular dinner at home.
Binge Watch TV
Have a day when all you do is sit on the couch watching TV shows or movies. Make sure Netflix asks you at least two or three times if “you are still watching this show”. Because when you’ve got children running around, laying on your couch or in your bed, a whole day may not be the easiest thing to do.
Don’t be Afraid to Follow your Dream
“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” - Paulo Coelho
Whether it’s wine, life experiences, or new career paths - try it all. Sip a little bit from everything until you find what’s right for you. And when you do, don’t be afraid to drink the whole bottle and enjoy it to the fullest.
Obviously, every couple is different. Every person has their own path to follow. These steps may not be what works best for you. Maybe you are really ready to have children. But if you’re not, if you’re like me, wanting to have kids but also wanting to try other things beforehand, then the above steps or suggestions may be a good starting point. Now go out there, enjoy your life, enjoy yourself and be you!"
Thank you so much, Johanna, for making a guest appearance on our blog. I think many mothers would agree with the points you made, myself included! One of my favorite points you made was, "It’s a hard decision to make, because I don’t think you are ever truly ready." This is so, so, so true. Becoming a parent is very challenging to prepare for. You just do your best everyday and the baby smiles get you through it.
A great list that will resonate with the mild wanderlusters to extreme adventurers. Be sure to check out Johanna's instagram page - this is where I vicariously live through her. :)
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