Life planning on crack: Career, kids, family

T recently said (somewhat jokingly) “You’re turning 24 this year. Better start thinking about when we’re going to have kids…”

24 is scary. 24 is firmly mid-twenties. It’s nearly a quarter of a century. And it feels far older than how I feel inside.

Mainly due to him, I’ve already bumped down my planned kid-having age from early 30s to 28-29. And that doesn’t seem so far away. I am so nowhere near ready for it, and is five years enough for that to change?

We all got together recently for the birthday of a friend, S. She’s a doctor, or pretty close to being one. One of our other friends, F just got married and just started a corporate career, and plans to have kids once she gets her CA. All of the girls in this group want their kids young, and to stay home with them for at least some time. Including S.

Medicine and child-rearing. Two very different lifestyles, neither of them conducive to the other. She is perfectly suited to medicine, but the family thing is just as important to her. We mapped out her professional trajectory on paper (from house officer to registrar to fellow to consultant – the US names are vastly different) and tried to determine where she would fit in two kids. Apparently some people take a few years out as registrars to get their PhDs and have their kids then (!), as that seems to be the best window to take time out in.

The last newsroom I worked in, only the most senior people – almost all men – had spouses and families. The hours just aren’t conducive to it. Medicine is even worse. S can’t have the kind of life she wants (or any life, really) in surgery, so she’s thinking about pursuing radiology or anaesthesia, which have more regular hours, (though they may be harder to get into). It’s something I pointed out to her back in high school, but I don’t think the harsh reality really hits you until you’re faced with it. Ah, the march of time.

I’m also really interested to see what happens to the rest of my girlfriends in the next couple of years. As I said, one is married. Another will probably be engaged soon. Three more literally have plans to get married in the next two years, but haven’t met anybody yet. And they may well end up having arranged marriages – a tradition I can’t help but wonder how much longer will continue quietly in Western countries, albeit in increasingly more informal ways. Probably longer than you might think.

Did you factor in family and kids when planning your career? Have you thought about when they fit into the picture?

13 thoughts on “Life planning on crack: Career, kids, family

  • Reply lushtoblush April 3, 2012 at 09:39

    I am 24 now and I am in the same place you are. Personally, I am not factoring in kids at all. I don’t want kids now and I don’t know if I’ll ever want kids, so why plan around something that doesn’t even exist? I wrote a similar article recently here: http://lushtoblush.com/2012/03/19/is-it-ok-to-not-want-kids/

    I honestly don’t see the benefits of having kids versus having a career. Maybe I’m just selfish, but I think we should be at this age!

    Great post! 🙂

  • Reply Amanda April 3, 2012 at 12:30

    I am 25 and plan on having my first child (hopefully of three) by the time I’m 30 – if not earlier. By that stage, I expect to be at a managerial role in my current field (marcomms, NFP), at around $70-$80K package – I’m at around $60K package now.

    NFP is particularly notable for being able to provide flexible working conditions, so I expect that I will continue to work in this field, at a similar salary, in a part-time capacity that fits in around any child and family commitments.

    Essentially, I don’t feel that having children will derail my career. I only have to look around me at the office for proof, at the 50% of colleagues who are mothers with young children, who have negotiated flexible working hours/days (two or three days a week, or only 9-3 every day) for their particular roles.

  • Reply centsofacountrygirl April 3, 2012 at 12:37

    I’m 27 and in no way, shape or form ready for kids. In my mind, I’m still 24. Kids never even crossed my mind when I was planning my career. Being perpetually single, I don’t really have much reason to even think about kids at this point.

  • Reply Sense April 3, 2012 at 14:10

    Heehee, I’m 34 and still feel mid-twenties. So that feeling doesn’t always go away as you get older. I think it takes actually having kids, etc. for you to feel older. While I’m ready to settle down in one spot after living all over the world in the past decade, I think canine-mom is the most maternal I will get. Unless I meet the love of my life and he is adamant about kids, then I’d do some compromising. It’s hard enough maintaining my career, I can’t factor in time for kids right now! I’ll do it when/if I have to. 🙂

  • Reply Michelle April 3, 2012 at 14:13

    I’m 22 and I have thought about this a lot. Having a child right now is just not a good time. Yes I realize that talking about kids this way is not “right.” However, it would not work with my career, I’m still trying to figure things out in my life, and also, I’m just plain not ready to be a mother.

    I also don’t want to have kids until my 30s.

  • Reply Anya April 4, 2012 at 01:03

    I will be 29 in a couple of months and I’m nowhere near ready. I got married 6 years ago and ever since then, I’ve been telling my husband, “give me 3 years.” We have some financial goals that we’d like to meet and if we stick to our plan, we’ll meet them in the next 3 years, so this deadline makes sense. But the bottom line is, I’m not at a point in my life where I want kids. We’re making 5 times more now than we did when we got married and we just want to enjoy ourselves for a while.

  • Reply addvodka April 4, 2012 at 02:47

    I think my lifestyle and career, paired with the boys lifestyle/career, are very conducive to having a family. I will be graduating with my BBA in August (hopefully) and the 9-5 is an easy one to take a leave from. My current job has a maternity leave top-up when women go on mat leave, or when men go on paternity leave. The boy has a job that he can leave at any time, because he works for himself.

  • Reply Nicole (@PennyFrugalista) April 4, 2012 at 03:50

    I remember being a quarter-century old. Trying to schedule when you’re going to have kids (if at all) is pretty difficult, especially if you’re not in a committed relationship when your self-appointed time arrives. I didn’t have our daughter until I was 32 — not only because I wasn’t ready yet, but because I hadn’t found the right partner until then.

    I’m also a journalist, but my hours are not as crazy as they once were. So that also played a part in our decision to have a child, but I never mapped my career around being a mother — I always knew I wanted children. The ticking of my biological clock kickstarted us, too.

  • Reply insomniaclabrat April 4, 2012 at 16:37

    I had a dream the other night that I had a baby, and then freaked out in the dream because I hadn’t even told my boss I was pregnant (like she wouldn’t have noticed??)

    This has been on my mind a lot lately (probably what led to the dream). I get a lot of (unsolicited) advice about when to have kids if I want to stay in academia. Much of the advice is to have a kid while finishing up my thesis…but that doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. From a publication standpoint, sure, but I don’t write well when I’m tired, and I wouldn’t want to be job searching while pregnant or with a small child at home. But thinking about starting a postdoc in a new lab with a kid/while pregnant…also not appealing. And waiting until after a postdoc? Well…the years are ticking by. Plus, again, starting out as a new faculty member, and then having a kid? I see why people suggest the end of grad school instead!

    Right now, we’re just waiting. We might re-evaluate when grad school is nearing an end, but right now I just can’t even imagine the time commitment!

  • Reply mssmartarse April 6, 2012 at 00:18

    I definitely didn’t think about my family when I chose my career. I am sometimes worried about how I’ll actually achieve this, once I do have kids… and I should think about such things more clearly. Still, I’m in a period of life when I truly feel content: I’m doing well at my job, I have money, I have a boyfriend, I get to travel… and somehow I just don’t really want to “settle down” and change it all.
    Sure, I’ll probably regret this later… but *sulks* I like my comfort.*sticks head in sand*

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  • Reply wow2012 May 2, 2012 at 18:08

    i am turning 28 yrs old very soon and never in my life did i think i would be unemployed at 28!! i love working and started working at the age of 14. i never imagined what i would do without work.
    i want children and three years ago i told myself i would be in a better position to have kids by the time i turned 28. i’ve always wanted to be a young mom, and be able to do a lot with my children. i want at least three children. the thing is i am not anywhere near ready to have children. sometimes i feel like i am ready (i have all the time in the world now to take care of my child and be a stay at home parent etc etc). however reality sinks in and the career driven woman inside of me slaps the thought right out of mind. besides children require at least two incomes.
    i have been in-love with a wonderful man for 5 years and i know he will make a great dad, but i want it all. the career, the kids, the family etc etc. i am beginning to realize that one can plan their entire life including the timeline of every life changing moment. interestingly, it does not turn out that way.
    i am turning 28 and have not started my career. when will having the children, the family, and having it all start? i have no idea. all i know is that today i had a wonderful and productive day. tomorrow, i have some plans, but will see what happens as the day unfolds.

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