People often wonder how to know if they are ready to have kids. How DO you know if you are ready for children? It’s a huge question and I thought, now that I’m four kids in (but by no means an expert) I would share some signs that you are ready for kids. This will serve as one part preparedness guide (have you gotten my free survival guide yet?), one part checklist, and one part warning.
You Know You Are Ready to Have Kids When You:
1. Can handle sleep deprivation.
2. Are able to stomach other people puking. Possibly on you. Possibly in your mouth. (Raise your hand if you are one of these lucky few.)
3. Understand the needs and wants of someone who does not talk intelligibly for 1-2 years.
4. Think you might be able to keep another living thing alive for an extended period of time.
5. Are okay with poop being…everywhere.
6. Can serve others without being thanked.
7. Know your heart will be broken (at least once).
8. Know most things in your house will also be broken.
9. Are able to listen to the voice of Dora, Diego, or (God forbid) Caillou without stabbing yourself in the ear with a fork.
10. Can admit when you are wrong. Often.
11. Understand you need help. A LOT.
12. Are able to ask for that help. A LOT.
13. Don’t mind sweeping under the table after every meal. Or DO mind, but do it anyway.
14. Can handle sleep deprivation. (Yes, I realize I counted this twice. IT COUNTS TWICE.)
15 Are willing to give up something you want for someone else. Daily.
16. Can laugh at the hard times, even if you are simultaneously crying.
17. Know that your dinner will almost always be cold before you eat it.
18. Recognize the difference between Tantrum Crying and Broken Arm Crying at a distance.
19. Want to experience child-like wonder all over again.
20. Are ready to turn into your parents.
21. Are ready to call and thank your parents.
22. Can handle your body/face/hair/general appearance going downhill in equal proportion to the number of children you have.
23. Believe that struggling produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope.
24. Understand that people will offer you all their opinions on your parenting as fact, whether you ask or not.
25. Realize that you’re never really ready.
That last one is the key. You can talk to your parent friends. You can read books or Google being a parent, but nothing—and I mean NOTHING—truly prepares you for the moment you look at a tiny person that is now entrusted to your care. Whether that person shares your DNA or not. Whether that person came to you as an infant or as an older child. It is ALL a shock and a requires just a little bit of crazy on your part.
Because the idea of REALLY taking care of another human for 18+ years is truly insane, right? The reality is that we are all more selfish than we can ever admit and at no time is that more clear than when you are responsible for someone else’s care.
Sometimes you’ll do it right. Sometimes you’ll screw it up. SOMETIMES YOU AREN’T SURE WHICH. People will tell you that you’re doing great or you’re doing it wrong. Your kids will DEFINITELY tell you when you are doing it wrong.
You will be terrified and ecstatic and exhausted and overjoyed. You will want a break and then miss your kids the moment you get one. You will feel like it lasts forever and then look back to wonder where the time went.
The secret is this: YOU WILL NEVER BE READY. I have four kids and I’m not ready. I don’t know how I got here and how I got through it and how I’m getting through it. I am learning to laugh when my 7-year-old with pneumonia throws up over the side of the top bunk bed. (Special note to would-be parents: invest in non-carpeted floors.) Parenting is the hardest thing you will ever do and the most awesome in the true sense of the word. It’s more responsibility than really anyone should ever have. I often question whether I’m fit to do this job at all.
I hope that you feel equally terrified and encouraged, because that is JUST how you should feel. You need to know that it’s going to really suck sometimes when you are tired and covered in someone else’s vomit and you just want to go to bed or zone out in front of the TV but you have to change the sheets again instead. You also need to know that you can’t fathom the amazing bond you will have with your child. You need to know that you can’t measure the love you will have. It’s simply too big to fit in any sort of measuring device. There is no quantifier. Your love will be huge. Your joy will be enormous. Your struggle will be real.
So, look at my list of 25 Signs You Are Ready to Have Kids and then have them even if you don’t feel ready. And if you don’t want kids at all? I’m totally okay with that. You go be the best aunt/uncle/mentor that someone else’s kid ever had.
Parents: What’d I miss? Let me know in the comments.
Non-parents: What’s the scariest thing on that list for you?