There's one cliche about having a baby that's 100 percent true: It completely turns your life upside down. Being a parent is a full-time job, and while the rewards are great, it's important to think about the challenges you'll face and the support you'll need before making the decision to start a family. To help you prepare for the world's biggest roller coaster ride, here are five things you should consider before having children.
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Make sure your relationship is healthy
You need a healthy relationship first in order to become a happy family. If you and your partner have a rocky relationship, it might not be the greatest atmosphere to bring a baby into. Give yourself time first to make sure your relationship is healthy and strong as a new baby—and the sacrifices and sleepless nights that come along with it—will only draw attention away from that.
Consider if your finances are in order
The USDA’s final cost estimate to raise a child from birth through the child’s 18th birthday was $234,900 in 2011, PsychCentral reports. Babies cost serious finances, and according to newlyweds expert Francesca Di Meglio, if you don’t think you can afford a child, you should definitely wait. She recommends taking an honest look at your finances—like the cost of formula, diapers, baby clothes and health insurance—and when you've added it all up, see if it's something you can afford. Will it put a strain on your relationship? If the answer is yes, take a look at what you can do to start saving and start there instead.
Check you're both self-sufficient
Does your SO need more babysitting than a three-year-old? If they do, you're likely not ready to have kids just yet. The same goes for you. If you're the one who acts like a baby or still likes to be a little selfish every now and then, maybe you're the one who isn't ready for the responsibility. Take a moment and consider if you're both emotionally and socially self-sufficient.
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Be ready to put someone else first
You need to really be sure you and your partner are ready to put another person's needs ahead of your own. Babies need a predictable schedule and your full attention, according to PsychCentral. Your baby’s needs for comfort should be far more important than your desire to hang out with friends or to get out of the house. This is especially true if you are planning on having a baby on your own and won't have someone to take over when you need an hour or two to yourself.
Be prepared for a lifestyle change
If you've heard this one once, you'll hear it a million times. Babies are a huge responsibility. They don't come with an owner's manual and you can bet that the day that it's born, that little bundle of joy will completely turn your world upside down—for better and for worse. Make sure you're prepared for a complete lifestyle overhaul, and that you really know what that means for you and your partner.