Parenthood is a huge step, so how do you know when you’re ready? Here are 10 basic things you’ll want to have covered before going into baby-making mode. If you’ve got most of these ducks in a row, chances are good that you’re well suited to take the leap.
1. You’re Not An Emotional Wreck
Parenting can be emotionally and psychologically challenging. If you’re not in good emotional shape pre-baby, you’re more likely to have trouble with the inevitable difficulties that parenting presents. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, have major problems with your self-image or relationships, or generally just feel mentally “off,” think about seeking help from a professional before pursuing parenthood.
2. You Have A Home — Or Are Willing To Simulate One
Children need to feel safe and secure, and home is where that feeling starts. It doesn’t have to be a traditional white picket fence scene in the suburbs, though. A home can be anywhere — even on the road — as long as it comes with a feeling of stability and a sense of continuity for kids. Instilling that feeling when a home moves around a lot is harder but not impossible.
3. You Don’t Feel Like Killing Your Partner On A Regular Basis
Learning to parent well together is a struggle no matter how strong your relationship. You’ve got to be able to negotiate tough decisions about things you don’t see eye-to-eye on. If you’re worried about whether you and your partner are on the same page, couples counseling may help you come together and decide what’s best for your situation.
4. You’re Not Completely Broke
You don’t have to be a Trump, but having some level of financial security will help when it comes to raising kids. There is a big difference between feeling somewhat strapped for cash and truly worried about whether you can make ends meet. It’s certainly possible to parent on a shoestring, but being in very bad financial shape will add more stress to an already stressful endeavor.
5. You Don’t Need To Do Shots To Have A Good Time
The early years of parenthood are pretty all-consuming. You might be able to get out on the town, occasionally, but barring live-in help, nights out will probably be few and far between and bear a faint resemblance to the good, old pre-parent nights. On the other hand, if your idea of a fun night involves a movie on the couch, you’re golden — give or take some interruptions.
6. You Know At Least One Other Person Who Is Not Repulsed By Babies
Simply put: support makes parenting easier. It can be your partner’s commitment to taking on an equal share of the parenting work, or your mother-in-law’s offer to watch the baby a few hours a week. If you already have a network of parent friends when you have a baby, you may feel more supported than if you’re the only one in your circle reproducing. Living in a kid-friendly place can help, too.
7. You Don’t Hate Your Family (Or At Least Have Sort Of Forgiven Them)
Funny, true thing: your relationship with your parents plays a huge role in how you parent. So, if you have unresolved issues about how your parents raised you, you might want to try to work those out before you have kids. If a discussion is not an option, this may just mean spending some time thinking about it, alone or with a professional.
8. You Can Climb A Flight Of Stairs Without Passing Out
The day-to-day effort of raising a child can be physically taxing. There will be lots of carrying your ever-increasing bundle of joy (quickly followed by the constantly bending over phase, which is followed by the constantly chasing phase). Your well-being is important not just for the day-to-day work, but also for your child’s future. Remember: the thing your child will need most is you.
9. You Have Accomplished Something — Anything — You Feel Good About
If you’re happy with what you’ve accomplished professionally or creatively, you might feel less stressed out by the almost-universal dip in productivity during the early years of parenthood. It’s also important to be open to the idea of redefining yourself in different terms. If you judge yourself by how much you get done, you’re likely to feel resentful about the inevitable interference a baby will cause.
10. You’re At Least Slight Excited About The Idea Of Having A Baby
Sure, you can have a baby without looking forward to it and be perfectly thrilled afterward. But enthusiasm can do wonders to help get you through the tough parts. Enthusiasm reflects confidence and feeds it, too. Don’t be worried if your excitement is mixed with anxiety. Being nervous just shows how seriously you’re taking this monumental move. Parenthood is constantly evolving, as will your expectations along the way.