Couples considering parenthood have probably heard “There’s never a perfect time to have a baby.” That may be true, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t some times that are better than others. Parenthood is one of those things that you can’t exactly take back. Once you’re a parent, there’s no button you can press to go back to your old life. There are questions you should ask yourself before you decide to try and get pregnant.
What will our job situation look like?
Does one of you want to be a stay-at-home parent, or do you both of you want to return to work a few weeks after the baby arrives? Both scenarios come with advantages and disadvantages. Some parents take a look at the price of child care in their area and reluctantly conclude that they can’t afford for both parents to work. Other couples consider it a luxury for one parent to be able to stay home with their child. The stay-at-home parent usually ends up being the mom, although stay-at-home dads are becoming more common.
It’s important to give yourself as much flexibility as possible regarding work and childcare. Some parents may love staying at home, while others will feel isolated and sad after just a few weeks. Neither reaction is wrong. Staying at home with the kids is a tough job with no salary, and it’s perfectly OK if you decide it’s not for you. If going back to work full-time isn’t a financial option, see if you can at least swing a part-time gig. A few hours a week out of the house and away from your child can make you really treasure the time you do have together.
Can we raise a family in our current home?
Some residences are more suitable for raising children than others. A studio apartment in Brooklyn is probably going to feel cramped when you add a kid. A two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey is better, but it may not be what you want. There’s a stereotype about young couples moving out of the city and into the suburbs once they start having kids, but it doesn’t mean you’re obligated by law to do so. If you do want to move, think about why. Do you need more space for all the stuff people bought for you off your buybuy Baby registry, or do you think there’s no way you can keep paying city housing prices now that you’re about to become parents (because children are pretty darn expensive)?
Of course, the price of living in cities varies wildly. Westchester County, New York and South Lebanon, Ohio are both suburbs of big cities, but you’ll likely have a much easier time finding affordable homes for sale in South Lebanon. This isn’t to say that you should move from New York City to the Cincinnati area the minute you get the first pregnancy test, but you should look at the real estate market around you and plan accordingly. Moving to an area with great public schools may mean the higher property taxes are worth it, as might moving to a safer neighborhood with a longer commute to work. Figure out what you value most and work backwards from there.
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