The decision to extend your family is exciting but also one of the scariest journeys you can embark on. Are you ready? Can you do this? The following are some things to keep in mind when deciding this for yourself, but make sure you read this in full before scaring yourself out of it or judging me if you are already a parent!
Are you ready for children? Here’s how you know:
- Are you ready financially? Babycenter.com has a great “Baby cost calculator” to give you a general idea of how much a baby will cost you. It told me that I would spend approximately $12,000 in the first year. And I noticed that it left out the cost of those lovely medical bills that occur in just the first few days of your child’s life. To put it lightly, babies are expensive. This cost can be greater or lesser depending on your parenting techniques and frugality, but it will cost you no matter what. Have you talked to your spouse about what this will look like for your family? Are there places you can start saving, cut back, and/or be more prepared? Remember that God provides and if He wills for you to have a child, He will take care of that child and you. But knowing the cost for your family and what the future may look like is important.
- Are you ready relationally? Your relationship with the Lord is always to be first and foremost, and the relationship with your spouse second. Are those relationships where they need to be before Jr. gets here? There is no way to know this completely but here’s something to remember: A baby often makes things harder, not easier. And when you are struggling regularly with your spouse a crying baby is not going to help anything. Babies do not help struggling marriages. I’m afraid many forget this and therefore contribute to the increasing rate of children who are sent from one home to another and live their lives with parents who are separated.
- Are you ready physically? No, you don’t have to be a marathon runner before having a child, but I was amazed at the toll having a child has had on my body. Not only because of my pregnancy (which in comparison to many, was fairly easy), but also because of the little sleep I was (and still am) living on and the little attention that I could give myself as well. Eating? Showering? What’s that? I’ve gotten more into the swing of things now, and my 5 month old is not needing to eat from me every hour as he used to, but the rest I once had whenever I needed it just doesn’t come so easily anymore. And Matt isn’t excluded from this exhaustion. He has been amazing at picking up my slack around the house, making dinners, and working extra projects to help support us and our new needs for the little one. A baby will take a toll on you physically, and it is something to keep in mind when you are considering having a baby.
- Are you ready emotionally? Those hormones. Let me tell you… it has been a rollercoaster ride for the past year and a half with a miscarriage, pregnancy, postpartum, and now breastfeeding. I’ve been a nutcase at times and I will be the first to admit that. It’s also just an emotional journey with many ups and downs. I had to be very attuned to my emotions throughout the whole thing, and I went to a counselor for several months through this process to get help with all the feelings I was having. Matt talked to me and other friends throughout this process as well and had his own ups and downs. I highly suggest having a good support system around you to help you through the emotions of starting a family and to know how you deal with emotional times before going through this next stage of life. If you tend to stress with hard situations, what are ways that you can calm yourself and make the process easier? This would be a great discussion to have with your spouse before you even get started!
- Are you ready spiritually? I’m not sure that I have ever had my faith tested as much as I have since we started considering starting a family. Praying if this was the right time, waiting anxiously each month to see if God has answered our prayers, going through the heartbreak of a miscarriage, trusting the Lord for a healthy pregnancy, and then giving the most precious person in your life constantly over to the Lord each and every day… It has all strengthened my faith in a way I never thought possible. I feel stronger because of it all, but I’m thankful that the Lord and I were on good terms before this all started because there were definitely times when I was not the happiest with Him and it took my faith and knowledge that He is always good to pull me through. Make sure that you are confident in your relationship with the Lord before traveling the path of children because you will need Him every step of the way!
Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? Well I have one more thing…
You are never ready.
This was some of the best advice that I received when we started talking about children. All of the things I listed (and even more that I didn’t touch on!) can feel extremely overwhelming. But take heart… there is never a right time. You will never have enough money, your marriage will never be perfect, you will always have emotional hurdles to jump over, you can never be prepared physically, and you and God can always grow closer. Should you take these things into account? ABSOLUTELY! They are all important and I would touch on each of them and try and have a good handle on these things if you can. But remember: God is bigger. He will provide in every way and He will guide your steps. And even better news? No one else was ready when they had kids either. I know we certainly were not! We tried to have things together as much as possible, but we have had to work on each of these things as we traveled over the last few months. And we will definitely continue to work through them for the rest of our lives as parenting will never really end until we are with the Lord.
And some other cool news… you are NEVER ready for how much you will love the children that God gives you. I was told this before, but there is no way to really know this kind of love until your little one is here. My heart will forever walk outside my body now that my son is here. Aside from my salvation and my marriage, being a mom has been the absolute greatest blessing in my life and I thank God every single day for the gift that He has blessed me with. It is hard to explain just how this tiny, helpless being could bring so much joy to our lives, but there is nothing like it. You can never be prepared to love someone like this.
So here’s my final advice: ask God. He has your future and your children in His hands already. He alone knows the timing and it is ultimately up to Him whether you think you are ready or not! Ask Him to show you what needs to change before children arrive and ask Him to grow you in those areas. Begin praying for your children now and trust the Father with the precious ones He will bless you with. Having a child has given me just a small glimpse of how much Christ loves me as His daughter and it is not only humbling, but encouraging. He does have your best in mind and will be cheering you on every step of the way.