Women’s Money Week: Kids. Who’d have ‘em?

are you ready to have a baby
By: Mike Baird

This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2014.

They say you tend to most regret the things you don’t do, rather the things you did. (That’s one of the things that convinced me I had to take time off to travel in 2013.)

Does that apply to having children?

(Potential TMI ahead in next paragraph)

I freaked myself out a while ago when I noticed I had unusually sore, full boobs (by my standards. I have NO idea how women with actual chests exercise comfortably. Going running that week was frickin’ agonising). It was coming up to that time of month, but not quite. Naturally, I was half-convinced I must be knocked up and went into minor panic mode.

That made me realise – with a jolt – that if I was, we would most probably have it. I guess you’d say I’m at the stage in life now where having a kid would only be slightly disastrous (say, 8/10) as opposed to deliriously disastrous (10/10). Two of my friends are apparently already in debate about who is going to be the better uncle to my future offspring. Bless their wacky little hearts.

But the one thing I really, truly want to accomplish before having kids is buying a house. I want the stability, I want the quality (if it’s a damp house, at least we can insulate it), and I know if we have a kid first it’s going to be virtually impossible to save what we need for a deposit.

And then there’s all the finances around actually having one – I’m not fussed about THINGS for a baby as such, like clothes and car seats and cots … but rather leave from work, childcare, etc. I’d really like for T to have a more established career. We can live off my income for now while he job hunts, but it’s certainly not the ideal, and neither of us earns enough that it would be easy for one of us to stay home with a kid.

Unlike a lot of people who grew up in a family where money was tight, who as adults are determined to be financially secure before they have a family, T thinks I’m overly conservative on this front. (It may also have something to do with the fact that he has worked with/socialised with so many less well off people who’ve had kids in their teens/early 20s – who certainly don’t have it easy, but get by nonetheless. His younger brother, for one, is about to join that club.)

Financial stress SUCKS. Been there, done that, with T right there alongside. And adding a tiny human being into that kind of toxic mix is one hot mess I never want any part of. Money buys peace of mind, and a LOT of things that bring happiness.

No, he’s generally more concerned with being too old to ‘enjoy’ our kids rather than being able to comfortably provide. I sympathise with this sentiment on the surface but try as I may, I just can’t empathise with it. My parents had me in their 30s, and their age never had any impact on my upbringing, which no doubt plays a large part in that.

As with a lot of things, there’s never a perfect time. There sure are some better and some worse times, though, and we haven’t gotten into the territory of the former yet.

How do you think your childhood/family environment shaped your thoughts and feelings about having kids of your own? Would you be ready to have one right now (if you found yourself in that situation?)

28 thoughts on “Women’s Money Week: Kids. Who’d have ‘em?

  1. I really shouldn’t until I pay off my student loans (8 years more of high payments), but then I will be 39, so either I need to save in case a biological clock kicks in (current
    Plan) or freeze my eggs. There’s no one in the picture so for now it’s not my top priority but I am 31, so in 8 years will be darn close to 40. If I found myself in that situation, which is highly unlikely, I’d probably need to do a hardship transfer at work and move closer to my Mom, which happens to be a place with a lower cost of living. I earn barely six figures, but with rent of $1600 for a 1 bedroom, a student loan payment of $800 and retirement, I’d be in trouble with daycare costs, which I’ve heard are about $1200. DC is an expensive place to live and not one where anyone could easily raise a baby on their own unless they qualified for some sort of welfare assistance. Maybe in a couple of years, it would be less of a disaster.

  2. Mentally ready? Ohhh I don’t think so. But that’s never truly likely to kick in for me.
    Aside from that, I think I’m much more likely to have the kid now than not, since I know that like you, we’re not in dire straits and we can make it work. We wouldn’t be able to buy a house anytime soon ANYWAY, not the right home in the location that we want, so it’s almost moot whether we’re saddled/blessed with a crawler or not. (But I do really really want to.)
    I know kids really truly don’t need much as we didn’t grow up with much. The thing I wanted more than anything as a kid, more than clothes, more than yummy food, more than anything, was books. And that’s one thing I think we can provide in moderation, as with everything else.

    1. The library was my second home. I hope it will be my kids’, too. Was it yours?

      Through T, I now see cases where parents struggle to feed their kids, especially healthy food, or are stuck in damp houses in dangerous areas because of finances (recall how I mentioned niece got jumped walking home?) and I just never ever want to be remotely near that kind of situation. (That said, they still find a way to buy their kids tablets and Xboxes, so…)

  3. Well, I’m older than everyone commenting here and there is no doubt that if I did find myself pregnant it would be a complete disaster for me. Although it’s not completely unknown women in their mid to late 40s have children, it would be a high risk pregnancy and something that could have some serious health implications for me. So, no, I wouldn’t have one now.

    Also, though, I do not regret not having children. When I was younger I assumed I’d have children and I kept thinking that up until I was about 30. Then I realized I didn’t have to do it and I didn’t think I’d want to do it. Ever. And I still haven’t changed my mind.

    How much my childhood factored into it is hard to explain. I could say that it 100% impacted my decision, but that wouldn’t provide details. Let’s just say that even though my family did not have a lot of money, it was not because of any sort of financial hardship as a child that I decided to be child free.

  4. I had a similar panic attack about 18 months ago when I was 29. I made Mr PoP come with me to buy the pregnancy test and it was one of those moments where we both knew that we wouldn’t end a pregnancy if it had started, but that we knew it wasn’t what we wanted right then. We’re still in about the same spot emotionally, and I don’t see us really seriously contemplating kids until 34-35 at the earliest, if ever.

  5. Wooo scary, yeah?! That jolt of realization…

    I had a very tiny scare with XBF at 30 (not long after we moved to NZ together) and it pretty much prompted our breakup. He didn’t even want to talk about it: it was a no from him, no discussion. I was not sure I could go through with getting rid of it because while we weren’t expecting it, we weren’t in total dire straits. I just needed to know he would work with me on the decision, even in the hypothetical. In the end, it was moot, but the discussion made things very, very clear between us. It was the beginning of the end.

    I don’t think my family influenced my decision to not have kids. Growing up, I ALWAYS thought I’d have at least two of ‘em. Then I hit my mid-20’s and all my high school friends already had babies. AND I FREAKED OUT. I was NOT ready, not even close. The pregnancy, labor, and baby stage still scares the crap out of me (I can mostly handle the ones that talk…), and I realized that I didn’t HAVE to have kids if I didn’t want to. And I don’t, want to I mean. I don’t NOT want to–nothing against kids and I think I’d be an awesome Mom–but if I don’t feel that urge, I am of the opinion that I probably shouldn’t procreate. Plus there’s the environmental argument against it. That has persisted through about til now.

    Now, I don’t know. I mean, I’m sortof playing it by ear right now, because “time is running out.” I just signed up for a dating site, and am really looking around. I really want to settle down. If I found the love of my life and he was desperate for children and approached me the right way, I would have a kid or two with him. I could handle it. That is freaking weird to say. It is just another adventure, and I don’t know if I’d be sad later if I didn’t go on it, if I had the option.

    Sorry for the long comment!

  6. Interesting post and I’d say my childhood environment has made me appreciate the power of budgeting and saving.

    At the same time, I’ve realised through taking a look at my mum that you are unlikely to save your way to financial freedom, it is all about investing and using OPM (other peoples money).. Would I be ready to have a kid financially now? Yeah sure I would be but way too many things I want to achieve before that i.e. travel a bit more, get into the property market..

    I don’t feel it was TMI btw, your only describing what is natural :)

    Keep up the great work

  7. My husband and I come from slightly different backgrounds when it came to having kids. My parents were married, my dad had a solid, well paying job; his parents were not married, but his dad did have a stable job.

    I don’t think either of those factors had much influence on when we decided we wanted to start a family after we got married. We both had well-paying jobs, we owned a house, so it just seemed like it was the logical next step and we felt ready. Sometimes we wish we had waited a year or so before starting so we could have more “us” time for travelling and such, but we also don’t want to be 50 and have kids in highschool still. And now that we have a pretty awesome daughter, I’m glad we didn’t wait anyway :)

  8. My wife and I always wanted to have kids…my wife loves the little ones and was a preschool teacher for a few years. She would still be doing that if it wasn’t for the very low pay. We have a 7 1/2 month old now and my wife is 31 and I’m 33. We waited until we were financially stable…and my wife was done with grad school. Plus we wanted to enjoy married life without kids too. We didn’t want to wait too long as it seems that there are more health risks…

  9. I’ve always known that I never wanted kids, despite how many people told me I’d change my mind…yeah, still waiting for that to happen. :) But I have given thought to what might happen if I ever had a whoops. The thought, for financial as well as other reasons absolutely terrifies me, so it’s in my best interest to ALWAYS be as careful as I can.

  10. NOOOOOO.

    There’s my answer. First of all, I’d like to be settled down and married. And secondly, I’d like to be in a better financial state. I’m not there yet. It would be pretty tragic if I were to get pregnant anytime soon! But I’m only 26 as it stands and no biological clocks are ticking for me just yet, so I’m 100% happy being childless.

  11. You have inspired me to take part in #WMW2014! I remember your posts last year and wanting to participate, so I’ve taken the plunge this year :)

    I do want kids at some point, but not anytime soon. I do NOT have the financial stability or maturity that kids require (or, um, a boyfriend) at this particular time. I also don’t know how I’d fare with juggling motherhood and career seeing as I’m super ambitious…

  12. I would prefer to have my house sold and be married before I had kids, but if they came along right now I wouldn’t be too flummoxed. Life may not meet our mental ideals, but it would still go on.

  13. I don’t really feel emotionally or financially ready to have a baby right now, but if I was actually pregnant I would keep the baby because I know I’ll never really feel completely “ready”. My parents had me when they were 28. They both had decent jobs, but my mom was a stay at home mom after she had me and had to go back to work (teaching) when they got divorced when I was 5. So despite good intentions of having financial and emotional stability my younger years weren’t as stable financially as my mom would have liked. She did just fine by me and I turned out OK (I guess ;-) )

  14. We definitely want kids, in fact, we are in the process of trying to start a family. I felt the same way about owning a home first; stability and more room are definite perks. I also want to save up a good chunk of money in preparation for not working for the year of mat leave and knowing that babies/kids ain’t cheap, especially day care in our area.

  15. My parents had me when they were quite young – early twenties – so for a long time I just assumed that was the norm and that I would do the same. As I got to my early twenties though, I realised that idea was insane. I want to live my life and enjoy my life before having to deal with someone else’s life. I definitely want kids one day, but definitely not for a good few years!

  16. I am no where need emotionally or financially ready to have children. I am getting older though and I wonder if its something that I will be ever interested in. I have been thinking recently that it is something that I might consider although in the very far future.

  17. Two months prior to getting pregnant, I had a pregnancy scare and went into full out panic mode. The month I did get pregnant (which was unexpected), I was all zen and ready to have a child. Funny how much changed in two months.

    I was an unexpected baby. My parents were in their early twenties, new immigrants to Canada, and poor; my dad was just starting university. They made it work despite the financial instability; in fact, they in a decent place financially in their early fifties. Growing up with young parents made me want to have kids young myself. However, I did want more financial stability, and at the very least, a more established career. When I did get pregnant, I was definitely in a better place than my parents were.

  18. We got ready well before we got pregnant, but I still felt totally unprepared when we did get pregnant. And one thing I’ve learned from being a parent is that you’re never really ready. I just got used to being the mom of a baby, and I’m not ready to be the mom of a toddler – but my baby is ready to be a toddler. Someday I will just get used to that, and she will be a preschooler but I won’t be ready. I definitely won’t be ready for her to be a teenager! And adding a second kid – well, we’ll never be ready for that, because one kid takes up 100% of your time. Where do you fit in the second?

    Somehow we’ll muddle through though. Another thing I’ve learned is that our own parents, who we though knew so much, weren’t ready either. They made it up as they went along, and we turned out okay, so I have faith that it will be the same for my little family.

  19. We’re in the same boat- the age where kids are expected. Where my father in law actually encourages me to “romance” his daughter (super awkward). While I know we’ll have them eventually, I want to be sure I can raise them properly and they don’t make me poor, you know?

  20. Money didn’t play much into our situation. Maybe it “should have,” but I honestly feel like we were ready, and that if we had waited until we accomplished all of our financial goals we may not have had them or decided we were too old to start. (Totally respect your decision, by the way. My circumstances and determining factors were just different is all.)

    It’s funny you bring up the way you were raised. I always thought I’d have kids young, and it’s not because my mom was particularly young when I was born or because of money factors. It was because of culture. I was raised Mormon and most people get married young and then immediately have children, sometimes lots of them. I lived in a highly LDS populated area at one point in my adult life and saw many 18-19 year olds starting families while in college. To them, it was completely normal. I didn’t start that young. Mid twentys-ish. I feel like at one point that was a pretty normal age, but nowadays people are waiting longer, and with the exceptions of Mormons and teen-moms (who I have crazy respect for…they’ve got a whole other set of challenges,) I feel like one of the youngest mothers I meet with children of a comparable age to my own.

  21. If we found out we were pregnant right now, it definitely wouldn’t be a big issue; I’d rather have a good chunk of change in my retirement accounts and my plan is to get a pretty hefty promotion pre-parenting, but we’d make it work if we did end up knocked up. Childcare would be an issue, and I think I’d always feel cheated out of travelling and my 20s.

  22. My panic level would be 11/10 or 12/10 if I were to get pregnant now. If we really want a baby, I guess we can make it work financially. As it is, we live way below our means. But we’re nowhere near emotional ready-ness. There are so many reckless, irresponsible things we still want to do! We’ve talked about it and we both agree that if we miss the window and we really really want a baby, we’ll be okay with adopting one.

  23. I find that people who grew up in more wealthy environments think that it takes a lot more money to raise a kid. This is true of some of my high school friends where they come from families of doctors and lawyers–they feel like they’ll never be able to afford a kid. But I grew up with a lot less and my family was never well-ff. Knowing that I make more money now than my parents did (even given inflation), I know that we could provide well enough for a child and am not as worried about it. That being said, I did want to have stable careers, which is why we wouldn’t even entertain the idea of having a baby until Eric landed his fire job. BUT I don’t think having a house is necessary. Our current place would fit a baby fine. It’s a nice to have, but not an absolute for us. and again–my parents had me when they lived in a one-bedroom apartment. At three years old–(I still remember the realtor showing us around the house, it must have be one of my earliest memories, i can describe to my mom the construction work they were doing in the back), we moved into the house we lived in for 20 years.

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