Thursday, July 3, 2014

10 Things To Do Before Having Kids

I stumbled on one of these gems of a list the other day - you know, the TEN ZILLION THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU HAVE KIDS - and decided to make my own. My first boss out of college lamented to me and another co-worker one day how he and his wife were not able to do fun activities any more since the birth of their three kids. I didn't get it: my parents always had so much fun with us!

That's a pretty modern implication: after X life event, your life - as you know it - is over. Fun is dead.

Here are practical things to do before having kids so that life continues to feel fun and not dead-like.

10. Start a savings account.

Okay, boring. But having a bebe is much better when you're serious about money. They do cost money, but not too much, if you budget well. {Special circumstances withstanding.} Be diligent about putting aside 10-15 percent every month. While you're at it, write a budget too. Based on your income and current assets, this may change over six month periods, and learn how to handle money! This is possibly the single most important skill to have as a single person, married person, and parent person. Expenses pop up! Be prepared {and don't overthink it}.

9. Choose patience.

Patience is hard. Showing your child patience over anger is possibly the most sincere form of love. Showing patience to your spouse is equally rewarding. Behaviors build off each other! Start with the person who cuts you off in traffic!

8. Work on your prayer life and relationship with Christ.

There are few things that will bring you to your knees faster than having a child. Will and I began praying as a couple when we were engaged, and now we pray with each other and with Grace each night. I also pray on my own each day, for special intentions and strength to persevere.

Life with the hope of Christ gives me strength when times are tough, and gives me such a view of God's beauty. Prayer is a conversation with Christ - sometimes our talks are short; other times earnest; and, my favorite, is leisurely. The best way to pass on our faith to Grace and future littles is to show them my faith, explain our faith, and experience it with them. We must get to know Christ before we can debate him.

7. Work on how to disagree actively and calmly.

Not everyone is born with a calm disposition, but everyone is capable of having a reasonable disagreement - even if it means taking a break or going on a walk. Say "I'm sorry" and mean it. Value the feelings of the other person just as much as your own. This is especially important for children to witness - and to have their feelings validated too.

6. Know thyself.

The best way to parent is to become a parent unique to you. I'm not going to use cloth diapers just because other moms do. I'm not going to make my own baby food (I tried, sigh), and I'm going to indulge Grace by sleeping with her during nap time (currently the only way I can get her to sleep with all the traveling). Know what is good for your baby, and know what is good for you. Be the best parent version of you! (Not the mom you want to be!)

5. Explore new skills.

What I love about babies is how much they absorb from the environment around them, and how they are constantly learning. How encouraging to me! I am continuing to hone my culinary skills, but I am also loving learning more interior design theory, tennis, fishing, and yoga. I've thought about gardening, but let's not get too crazy here.

4. Buy a sense of humor

If you don't have one, that is. There are so many things with kids that can make you want to cry. But why cry when you can laugh? Life is fun, and so are kids. We can be a little less serious about annoyances and more serious about laughing at them.

3. Keep up a good relationship with your family and friends, and know boundaries.

A friend of mine recently told me I am a great "mom advocate" for Grace, and I was really touched by that. I'm a naturally timid person, and my husband has been my number one advocate. He helps me deal with personal frustrations and I help him keep in touch with loved ones. But most importantly, we have learned to prioritize our family above all. We've had to miss family get-togethers (sniff), and we've missed friends' weddings, but we did what was right for us, and that has helped me truly center in on doing what is right for Grace as well - not to make other people happy.

2. Read!

You must read to your child. Okay, now that we've agreed on that, you must keep reading too. It doesn't have to be deep: it needs to be what you like. I love murder mysteries, British lit, and Southern lit, with rhyming poetry thrown in there. (T.S. Eliot too!) I love the Little House on the Praire series (re-reading now), the Anne of Green Gables series, anything by Flannery O'Connor and Pope Benedict XVI, and essays.

Reading expands your mind. Reading keeps life interesting. Reading keeps your soul reaching upwards in the hidden worlds of good stories. Reading renews a sense of wonder found in childhood and often lost by the cement truck of reality.

1. Love yourself, be happy.

This is possibly the most important thing a person can do in life. We all struggle and we all hope to be better, and those can be turned for the good. The inecurities we face are not who we are: we are children of God; his beloved. We were made this way for a purpose - it is up for us to create fruit in our own gardens. Sometimes, that is being content in our single days. For me, I am still wrapping my head around my motherhood. I love Grace, and I love my work. But I don't love when I feel like I am not giving 110 percent to both.

But it's just not possible, for me, at this point. And I'm accepting that! This is my season of life, and I choose to be happy about it. I love myself because I am not my work.

One may not always feel happy, but we can always choose to be happy. This is the secret of life, in my book, and I hope to pass this on to my children.


The most important thing to do before having kids is to be open to them. Be open to the adventure life is with them. Be open to the hardships, and be open to the laughs. Life can be as boring as your imagine it, or it can brim with possibility. It really is up to you.

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