As soon as you get engaged, the first question that you’ll start hearing from your friends and family is “when are you going to get married?” As soon as you get married, you’ll almost immediately begin hearing the question “when are you going to have kids?” Though many couples have a very strong desire to start a family not too long after their wedding, there are some things you may want to consider before you make that leap. Some people may argue that the whole point of getting married is to eventually have children, and I think that the vast majority of people would agree. However, marriage is also about the two of you sharing your lives together, so you need to make sure you get some “you time” in before you are responsible for another human being. Here are some things you should do before you have children so you don’t feel like your love life slipped you by when you’re attending a parent/teacher conference in 10 years.
One of the hardest things to do after you have children is travel, so exploring the world a little after your wedding can really be a nice treat. Sure, you will probably take plenty of family vacations after you have some little ones running around; but that is much different than a romantic getaway for just you and your spouse. After your honeymoon, it’s a good idea to take a few trips over the next two or three years before starting your family so you can build your romantic bond that will endure for the next twenty-five years as you raise your children together.
Get to Know Children
Chances are that if you’re old enough to be getting married that you’ll have some friends that have started their families already. This can be a great opportunity to get your feet wet in the parenting department by offering to babysit their kids so they can go out for a romantic night on the town. The benefit here is two-fold; first you get the opportunity to experience spending time with children and second you are earning yourself the chance for a night out later on when you have children of your own. Babysitting a few times for your friends won’t give you all the experience of having your own children, but it will certainly give you a heads up on what to expect so you can judge for yourself when you’re ready to start your family.
Create a Network
One of the most important things you can do when you start your family is to have friends that have children as well, so the earlier you start building this network the better. There are a ton of advantage to knowing other families such as organizing play dates, swapping babysitting duties periodically, and gaining tips and advice. Knowing someone with children just slightly older than your own can be a huge benefit because they can give you advice from real life experience when your own children hit that age and experience the same things.
Start Your Career
One of the toughest things in life after you get married and have children is trying to balance your schedule and prioritize the things that need to get done. Between cooking, cleaning, and getting your kids to school or daycare on time, there can be very little time left to spend with your spouse or fitting in that precious alone time. Your best chance for success is to attempt to find a career that fits into a somewhat regular schedule with the rest of your family’s activities. Try to get a job that starts at a regular time so you can see your kids off to school or daycare, be home to see them in the evening, and spend time with your spouse for a few hours before its time to go to bed.
Though no two families are exactly the same, there are basic human needs that all of us share. The best advice that I can give you is to spend some time with each other before you need to focus almost exclusively on your children and your family life is sure to start out on the right foot. Instead of rushing to have kids right after your wedding, try to take your time and build your new life together one brick at a time.