There are a lot of big decisions in life. From where you go to college to which job you take to whom you marry, there are important choices at every turn. But there’s arguably no more critical decision than the one you have to make about when to start having kids.
Some people choose to have children very early in life, while others wait until their late 30s or even early 40s to get started. And while it’s up to you and your partner, here’s a list of things you should consider doing before starting a family.
1. Use the Right Birth Control
This is less of a checklist item and more of a reminder. If you’re serious about trying to plan your pregnancy and wait to start a family, you can’t play around with birth control. Make sure you’re using the correct type of birth control – whether it’s the pill, patch, or ring – and regularly reevaluate your prescription to ensure it’s working for you and your body.
2. Travel the World
There’s nothing stopping you from traveling once you have kids, but it definitely becomes more difficult and restricting (at least when your kids are younger). That’s why relationship experts highly suggest traveling the world before getting pregnant.
If nothing else, try to knock off one or two destinations on your travel bucket list. Not only will you enjoy experiencing another culture, but if you do it with your significant other, it’ll strengthen your relationship and prepare you for challenges ahead – including parenting.
3. Be Spontaneous
It’s difficult to be spontaneous when you have infants and toddlers in your home. Now’s the time to use up all of this impulsive energy. Whether it’s a last-minute weekend getaway, random nights out with friends, or trying new hobbies, this is the ideal phase of your life to give it a whirl.
4. Fulfill Your Education Goals
Do you have dreams of finishing your college degree? Do you want to go to law school? Have you always dreamed of becoming a welder? Whatever your education goals are, it’s better to fulfill them prior to having children. Not only does this ensure you have more focus, but it also helps you maximize your earning potential.
5. Take Some Risks
Having kids creates a seismic shift in how you live your life. While you can still take chances, you suddenly have young, needy humans depending on you for life and sustenance. This means you can’t take the same risks that you can prior to starting a family.
If you want to try something risky – like starting a business or moving to another country – now’s the time to do it. You have a bigger safety net with fewer people depending on the outcome.
6. Bolster Your Savings
“Raising children comes with a hefty price tag,” personal finance coach Alaya Linton explains. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the average cost of raising one child, from birth to age 17, to be $233,610. When inflation is taken into consideration, that figure inches closer to the $300,000 mark for a child born today.”
You shouldn’t let these figures cause a panic attack. However, you do need to take them seriously. Now’s the perfect time to start bolstering your savings so that you can be better prepared for the onslaught of expenses coming your way.
7. Renovate Your House (or Move)
When it’s just you and your partner, you don’t need much space. You can get away with a small starter home or loft apartment. But when you throw kids into the mix, the walls begin closing in.
If you’re planning to renovate your house in an effort to create more space, now’s the time to do it. The same goes for moving into a bigger place. It’s much easier to do both of these things when you don’t have little babies crawling around.
Wait Until You’re Ready
The key is to wait until you’re ready. By planning ahead, you can do the things that are important to you, while also being smart about what sort of environment you bring your kids into. Are there any additional items you would add to your own personal pre-baby checklist?