Babies are adorable and very lovable, but they do come with a TON of responsibilities. If you’re still trying to conceive, you may want to take a careful look at whether you’re ready for a baby and ready for parenthood. Being a mom is a full-time job – an unpaid job at that. You will work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Parenting is hard work; don’t let anyone tell you differently. You can’t take a break, or a vacation from being a mom. Even when you’re not physically near your child, you are responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of him or her. Anxiety and worry will be part of your daily life. Are you ready for this challenge?
Are You Willing to Sacrifice Your Free Time?
If you love your free time, or you enjoy the luxury of spending time alone without any distractions, you may want to postpone your baby making plans. You are going to have no free time when you are taking care of a newborn baby. When you’re not feeding her, you’re changing her diaper or trying to get her to sleep. During the “free” time you do have, you’ll probably want to sleep or pick up around the house.
In a nutshell, being a parent places incredible demands on your time and energy. At some point, you are going to feel like you never have time to take a breather. Regardless of whether you’re a single mom or you’re married, you are going to struggle with the same issues. You may face “mommy guilt” when you’re away from your children; you will get your emotional buttons pushed by your needy kids; and you will make parenting mistakes that you later regret.
Having a child is a major life commitment, so you will really want to think about your decision carefully. Although men are becoming more involved with child rearing, women still bear the majority of the responsibility of parenting.
Can You Handle the Financial Burden of Children?
Another aspect to consider when you’re wondering, “Am I ready for a baby? Am I ready for parenthood?” is the money issue. Having a baby is expensive. In the first year alone, you are going to be spending thousands of dollars on disposable diapers, formula and bottle-feeding supplies (if you choose not to breastfeed), baby food, infant toys, baby clothes, nursery furniture and supplies for your baby’s room . . . The list goes on and on.
Are you ready for this financial burden? If money is already right, you may not want the added stress that a child brings on your budget. You might be ready for a baby if you are willing to sacrifice your wants for your baby’s needs. For example, you may have to go without buying new clothes for several years, just so you can afford the rising cost of diapers or baby food.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which releases an annual report called “Expenditures on Children by Families,” the cost of a middle-income family raising a child born in 2010 from infancy to age 18 was roughly $226,920. When inflation costs were factored in, this rose to $286,850. This estimate will increase two percent with each passing year.
Is Motherhood Right for You?
Motherhood isn’t for every woman. Some women have career ambitions that aren’t conducive to family life. Others just don’t like the idea of having children. And of course, there are the women who wait too late to have kids and end up regretting their decision. When you’re deciding whether motherhood is right for you at this stage of your life, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you and your partner ready for the changes that come with bringing a baby into the family?
- Are you in a stable loving relationship/marriage that is open to the idea of children?
- If you’re a single parent, are you prepared to raise a child alone?
- Is this the “right” time to get pregnant? Or should you wait until your lives are less chaotic, less stressful and more stable?
- How will the new baby affect your future goals? (This can include your education or career)
- What are you going to do for childcare?
- Are you ready for the possibility that a new child means you’ll have less time to devote to your partner/husband?
- Are you willing to give up your free time in order to care for your new baby?
- Have you and your significant other talked about how you’ll handle any religious, political, or ethnic differences that the two of you have?
- Do you think you will enjoy being a new mother, despite the sacrifices that you will have to make?
The decision to become a parent is a personal decision. Don’t allow other people’s expectations to influence your decision. Your mother, father, sister, brother, next-door-neighbor, and best friend may all have strong opinions on whether you should have a baby, but only you and your significant other (if you have one) should make this decision.
Be Realistic about Your Expectations
When it comes down to being ready for a baby, you have to be realistic about what motherhood is going to be like. It’s often easy to fall prey to the romanticized images of parenthood floating around – your children aren’t going to be perfect, and you aren’t going to be June Cleaver.
An easy way to get a glimpse is to babysit a friend or family member’s baby for several hours (or overnight, if they allow you). By the end of the babysitting session, you will know if you have the patience or tolerance for a child.
Here’s another way of testing the waters. Do you remember having to carry around a 10 pound of flour in high school, so that you could get an idea of what having a baby is like? That’s actually not a bad idea. From 5 to 10 p.m., carry around that sack of flour and make sure that the TV is the loudest it can be and the house is full of distractions. At 10 p.m., put the bag down and go to bed. An hour later, get up and walk the bag around until 1 a.m. Go back to bed, and wake up at 3 a.m. and the same thing . . . This might sound silly, but it will get you ready for those sleepless nights when you have a newborn baby.
If you’re ready for sleepless nights, a screaming baby that’s crying for no reason, a lot of dirty, smelly diapers, and a husband who is upset that you’re not spending enough time with him . . . then you might be ready for a baby.
Sometimes, babies come when you least expect them to. Unplanned pregnancies happen all the time. Even if you’re not ready for a baby yet, you’ll end up becoming a great mother. Parenthood just takes a lot of patience and a lot of love.
You May Also Enjoy Reading
10 Surprising Facts about Having a Baby
Mom’s Guide to Finance: 10 Ways to Save Money on Baby
Choosing Career Over Family and How it Affects Your Fertility
What’s Your Child Worth: According to the USDA, $226,920