If you are a year or so into your marriage, chances are that everyone is asking you, "So when are you giving us the good news?". Suddenly a decision as personal as having a child becomes everyone's concern. So much so, you might wonder how your child-bearing capabilities contribute to your mom's neighbour's happiness (you probably bump into her once a year).
A friend of mine has been married for a while; since the couple was studying for the first two years of their married life, they decided to hold off on the planning-a-child decision. It's hardly been a year since the both of them have kind of settled into their respective jobs. The day they decided to get a car, 'well-wishers' felt it was also the right time for them to start a family. If only having a child was as simple as buying a car.
When do we really know that it's time to plan for a baby? Here are some considerations that need to be made before you decide to become parents.
Mentally prepared? A child is a big responsibility, it's important that both would-be parents are completely prepared for the change. No matter how many people pressurize you to have a child, it is integral that both you and your partner decide on the right time.
Financially prepared? Planning your finances is essential when you are planning to usher a new member into your family. Starting from the delivery to rearing the child is going to be an expensive proposition. Add to that a few EMIs that you might be paying off and your monthly budget might need some serious reconsideration. If it's a dual income household, you might also have to make provision for one missing income. Make sure you are prepared to curtail a few expenses and plan your resources effectively.
Can you provide stability? A child needs a stable environment. If you already have issues in your marriage, it might not be a very good idea to go ahead with the expanding-the-family plan. A baby is not a quick fix to other marital problems; make sure you sort them out before you drag an unsuspecting child into the mess.
Health concerns? While it is a norm these days to get various tests done before and during pregnancy, both parents and especially the mother should be completely fit to handle the physical demands of a new addition to the family. Dietary and fitness routines should be integral not only during pregnancy but also when you are planning to conceive.
Are you ready to take a break? This applies mostly to would-be mothers — a child might put sudden breaks on your career, are you prepared for it? While nurturing a child might be the most fulfilling experience in one's life, you need to be prepared for a sudden change of plans. While you thought you would be right back after your three-month maternity leave, it might not always happen that way.
I know that there is a school of thought that believes in the complete opposite, that you can never perfectly plan a child. There's never a right time and we learn to live up to the challenges as and when they arise. While that might hold true, it's a good idea to have some basics in place before we sign up for a responsibility as big as parenthood. Few of us have the kind of support system our parents had when we were growing up; we don't have the luxury of a houseful of uncles, aunts and grandparents who will attend to the needs of a newborn. If we plan a few things in advance, it makes the transition easier.
Parenthood teaches us a lot of new things; are you ready to adapt to the change? Share your views with us. You can also connect with me on Twitter.