Good Reasons to Have Children
There comes a point in your life where you will ask yourself if you one day want to have children. Generally, I have found that back in school most of my friends had that on their to-do lists for their 20s/30s because isn't that what everybody does? Pretty much all the grown ups my parents were in contact with on a regular basis also had kids and I assume it was the same for my friends.
It was only once I had joined the workforce that I encountered slightly older colleagues who appeared to be perfectly settled in life but had not had children yet or had decided that they were comfortable in their lives without children.
In life, there are no right or wrong decisions and you know yourself best. If you sense deep down that it is not your way, that is ok, too, even if it is hard to accept for the people in your life.
However, if you are on the fence and are weighing up some pros and cons, I would like to give you some points you might not have considered yet.
The fear factor
You might be the coolest, most level-headed person right now but once there is a little person you are responsible for all that goes out of the window...
...and that's a good thing!
I still put this down to hormones but bringing the baby home for the first time temporarily turned me into a nervous wreck and that first night at home was incredibly scary (the massive thunder storm and not knowing what we were doing didn't help).
Nobody would describe me as an anxious mum but there are still things that scare me a lot more now that I have a family. Some of these worries you might share already (like the prospects of waking up one day jobless not knowing how to pay the bills once money runs out) but there are also these additional fears popping into my head now that I wouldn't have given a second thought to a few years ago. My partner or me being diagnosed with a major or even terminal illness, for example, would now affect a very young child who would expect support in that difficult time. Or, maybe even worse, what if it was one of our children who was sick.
It is only when we actively think through these horrible scenarios that we mature. For all worst-case scenarios that might impact us financially, we can prepare and, at least for me, saving money and being financially responsible has become much more important than it was before becoming a mum. (You can read about my experience of that more here: https://wehavekids.com/parenting/What-Having-A-Family-Taught-Me-About-Finance)
As far as the emotional side is concerned, now that I am concerned about the impact devastating news might have on my own children one day, the relationships I have with older relatives has changed, too. I think I understand a lot better now why the elderly in my life try to cling on to their independence even if it seemed irresponsible to me a few years ago.
Obviously, the fear factor should not take over your life and if you feel like it does (being a parent or not), this is definitely something you should discuss with a professional.
It might surprise you to hear it but when I returned to work after my son was born, I had become much more efficient than I had been before. And I have heard the same from other parents, too. Don't believe me?
While it was just the two of us, the urge to just go home wasn't as big. Sometimes it would give me some gratification telling my partner that I was going to smash my targets if I just stayed another hour to prep for the remainder of the week. Of course I didn't blame my partner either if it happened to him. After all, we were both two hard-working professionals who might as well reward their efforts by getting a take-out that evening, right?
Things are a bit different now. I have a reason to go home that's much more important than office politics. And guess what, the targets were probably achievable within regular office hours provided you skipped the odd coffee break that escalated into an "additional unscheduled meeting" or even intense office gossiping session.
I don't want to tell you that being a hermit within the office is the way to be, but cutting out the chit-chat when you should be working and socialising in your break means going home on time and having a productive day are no longer mutually exclusive.
This also brings me neatly on to my next point. Work-life-balance has become one of the buzzwords of our time but even though we are debating it all the time, I'm not sure that we truly understand what a good balance would/should look like.
Juggling career and children is always difficult. It also depends on where you live in the world and what employment laws look like in your jurisdiction, if you are employed or have your own business, if family live nearby or how expensive childcare is.......all these factors coming together determines just how difficult it will be to juggle.
But I would argue that parents probably develop a better understanding of a healthy work-life-balance.
Think about it this way, if your employer agrees to a flexible working arrangement, where you might work eight hours less every week, what will these additional hours actually look like for you? Spread out over a five-day week, you won't actually gain that much additional time. So if you come home and focus on laundry and getting dinner on, is that actually "life" or is it still "work" that we all need to do even though nobody pays us for it?
Now that I have a family, my priorities in my "not at work"-time have changed. Sometimes, the laundry comes out of the dryer but doesn't get tackled straightaway because my son and I are too engrossed in a game or book. If that has you raising your eyebrows, I'll go even further and admit that sometimes I don't even put the washing machine on and we have an outing instead.
The world is still turning and even though our house is not pristine at all times, I am strangely at peace with it. There will be a time where spending time with me isn't so important to him. Maybe then I will have an amazingly organised household, who knows...
A lot of terrible things are happening in the world every single day. Some have an impact on a large group of people, others are small-scale but still have a devastating effect on the individual they happen to.
I don't want to turn this into a "and that's a good thing"-type argument again but before I had children, I found it a lot easier to watch the news.
Now that I have a family, these images and social injustice seems to occupy me a lot more - especially if they revolve around children. And maybe this is just the kick I needed to care more about what is going on all around me. Certain things I pick up on make me angry and drive me to action in a way they wouldn't have done before.
When you have children your life gets turned upside down, your priorities might well change and your role at home becomes a mixture of caregiver/caretaker/cook/toy finder/mediator/accountant with various other areas of expertise needed.
I still think of it as a great experience although it might not sound attractive to you at all. If it doesn't, that's cool. As I said above, it's your life and if you don't feel that being a parent would fulfill you then don't bow to what society expects because more than one person might get hurt.
If you are still unsure if having a family would be right for you, as long as you don't hate children you are probably going to be fine. Even if you find it difficult connecting to children now, instinct kicks in when it's your own child and likelihood is you will be just fine.
© 2018 Sarah