Author Topic: What do you wish you did before you were parents?  (Read 15579 times)

Meowkins

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What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« on: September 26, 2016, 08:41:30 AM »
Hello Mustachian strangers! You don't know me, but I seek your thoughts anyway.

I have recently decided to procreate (*the planet's taxed ecosystems give a simultaneous a groan of despair*). I have been actively trying to avoid the, "Do all of these things before you have kids because life is over as you know it and your life is consumed by poop and..etc." advice because I think a lot of people make cages for themselves out of society's expectations.

But Mustachians are a group of people that regularly question these expectations and do extraordinary things. So, dear MMMers, I'd love your thoughts. What do you really wish you'd done before you were parents? Get a master's degree? Climb the himalayas? Learn a new language? Get a new job?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2016, 09:07:27 AM »
I wish we'd started earlier.

Meowkins

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2016, 09:11:24 AM »
I wish we'd started earlier.

Hey, that's a surprising response I haven't heard. Why?

Pigeon

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2016, 09:15:03 AM »
I wish we'd been more serious about saving before kids.  While we always saved some and avoided debt, it's a lot easier to save as DINKS.

GhostSaver

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2016, 09:19:14 AM »
We both finished our MAs, moved, switched jobs, worked a lot. I wish we had taken more time off to travel (not anything big and complicated, just more relaxing trips together). I wish I had spent more time at the gym, too. Free evenings to lift weights seem precious now.

OTOH, I wish we had started earlier! When you're younger, you have more energy and that applies to every phase with the kid. I'll be 51 when our youngest is off to college, which isn't old but isn't that young either. Everything is a trade off.

charis

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2016, 09:20:25 AM »
I wish we'd started earlier.

Me too.  Hindsight...

historienne

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2016, 09:25:13 AM »
As you've intuited, most of those lists are needlessly scaremongering.  You can travel after kids (with or without them).  You'll have less time for hobbies, true, but playing with my kids is pretty fun, so it works out.

I had kids on the later side (mid-30s).  I'm glad that I waited until I had finished my education and gotten a well-paid job, because I never wanted to stay at home and working would suck if we couldn't afford excellent daycare.  I wish that we had bought and renovated our house beforehand, just because that was a huge PITA to do with an infant, but I wouldn't have wanted to wait any longer to have kids just to get that done. 

Personally, I think the #1 thing you can do to prepare for kids is to invest in your other relationships.  You will want a support network, and adult conversation...and it's hard to find that network or form new friendships while you have tiny kids.  We moved right before our first was born, and it's been a struggle to build relationships over the last few years.  We got lucky last year when we got awesome new neighbors who also have young children.  So my advice would be to spend as much time as possible with your friends and family, so that those relationships don't fall by the wayside when you go through a six month (or longer!) period of basically never being able to leave your house.

Pigeon

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2016, 09:29:27 AM »
We also had kids later and I'm glad we did.  Kids require a great deal of patience and for us, that came with being a bit older.

little_brown_dog

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2016, 10:14:57 AM »
Travel – it isn’t impossible to travel with young children, but it is harder relative to traveling sans kids. If you have some countries on your bucket list that are not family friendly (ex: developing nations prone to conflict or those with questionable healthcare systems) then you might want to consider visiting before kids arrive just to make sure you do get to see them before family life takes over.

+1 to starting sooner - thankfully we started earlier than many people recommended (mid 20s). So many people said "oh wait, you have time!" Turns out I had almost a year of miscarrying on and off before we successfully conceived our daughter. At 26, it was stressful enough - I can't imagine what it would feel like to be going through that AND worrying about my age/biological clock. However, this does NOT mean people should start before they are ready/financially stable/healthy - it just means that it isn't wise to take conception/pregnancy for granted, particularly if you know you want more than one child.

Some of the best things we did before we had our baby:

1.   Get healthy. Can’t stress this one enough, particularly for mom. Pregnancy does a number on even the healthiest, fittest bodies and mother nature can be brutal to those women who attempt pregnancy overweight or in less than healthy shape.  The best way to prevent excessive postpartum poundage, gestational diabetes, and other problems is to be as healthy as possible before you get that positive pregnancy test. Too many women think that an extra 10lbs before conceiving is no big deal, but it really can compound and turn into a situation that is not just frustrating body image wise, but also risky for mom and baby.

2.   Live on one income if possible. Don’t box yourself in by assuming you won’t want (or need) a partner to quit work or drop to part time. Many couples realize after baby arrives that they do not want to manage two full time jobs during the baby years. Practice living off one income (and save the other) for a year before baby arrives. That way you will be able to make childcare choices based on preferences rather than financial necessity.

3.   Start beefing up your social network. Get more involved in family activities, reach out to neighbors, make time to hang out with friends in the area. New parents need a lot of support – even extremely independent or introverted ones. Family and friends will be there to stock your fridge with food before you get home from the hospital, watch the baby while you go grocery shopping, or simply be there on the other end of the phone when you need to hear an adult voice instead of newborn wailing. The more supports you have the better the new parent experience will be. Being a new parent can be extremely lonely, even if you genuinely love being a parent, so make sure you are as well connected as possible.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 10:27:05 AM by little_brown_dog »

Meowkins

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2016, 10:17:43 AM »
Wow! This is all awesome advice. THanks so much you guys.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2016, 10:35:50 AM »
I wish we'd started earlier.

Hey, that's a surprising response I haven't heard. Why?

It's fantastic and I'd want to maximize the proportion of my finite lifespan I'll know my children and descendants for.

I mean, my daughter was born when I was 24 so there isn't a ton it could have been moved forward by, and I wouldn't want to change anything that would make her different if given a time machine, but one only has so many years and maybe we could have had nearly an entire additional year in this best phase of life I am aware of.

FLBiker

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2016, 10:49:24 AM »
Interesting question.  I don't know that I have wishes, exactly, but I can tell you what we did.

We had our daughter late-ish.  I was 38, DW was 34.  That was 1.5 years ago.  DW and I met when I was 32.  I spent my 20s living overseas and getting a MA degree, and she also has an MA degree.  Personally, I tend to be pro spending your 20s doing whatever you want (traveling, pursuing some artistic / athletic profession, etc.) because I found it easier (like mentally) to be "settled" (and work 40 hours a week) in my 30s.  And I agree that kids don't necessarily prevent travelling, but they absolutely change it.  The way / extent that I traveled in Asia in my 20s (lots of bike camping, 24 hour bus rides, very skeezy hotels) is decidedly not family friendly.

That said, there are absolutely positives to starting earlier.  I was much better at sleepless nights in my 20s.  Plus, DW and I are almost certainly just going to have one (although, to be fair, that decision wasn't based primarily on our ages).  If you want to have multiples, younger might be better.  I also love what was said about knowing your children and descendants longer.  I agree with that, but at the same time it isn't really a regret because, before my daughter was born, I wasn't missing her.

One thing that was helpful for us, too, was building (well, finding) a support group of like minded people -- for us, this was a Buddhist group.  In addition to the meditation / spiritual aspects, it has been great having a network of folks who have similar attitudes towards materialism, media consumption / screen time, food, etc.  Makes us feel like we're not aliens. :)

Bradfurd

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2016, 11:22:11 AM »
This is really a fantastic topic, and one that I have gained much more insight on in the past nine months since our son was born.

1) We did a significant amount of DIY home reno before our little guy arrived, and that was a brilliant move. I can't imagine finding the time to do those things now...dust, wet paint, time, noise, etc. Looking back, I would have crossed even more items off of the home reno list before he came.

2) We were fortunate enough to have a nice big trip before the baby came, but looking back I think I would pony up another pile of cash and take another one. We have traveled quite a bit with him in these first nine months, but having a little one with you changes the way you travel and the activities you plan.


MonkeyJenga

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2016, 11:26:34 AM »
What are big things in YOUR life that you and That Guy want to do? Which of those things will be harder to do once your crotchspawn has arrived?

Secondhand, I will suggest looking for a new job now, seeing how a relative gave up looking for a new position once she got pregnant.

Besides you should always be looking for a better job.

sjc0816

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2016, 11:28:43 AM »
I wish we'd been more serious about saving before kids.  While we always saved some and avoided debt, it's a lot easier to save as DINKS.

This....big time. We paid off all debt besides the mortgage before having kids - but I wish we would have saved a TON more cash before having a baby. Baby unexpected health problems for the first few years= I had to quit my job to take to Dr/physical therapy appointments (which cost a lot)....and I've never gone back fulltime.  We had good retirement savings but that was of little help to us when shit hit the fan. We're okay now (kids are 10 and 7)....but man, I wish we could do it over again and save a LOOOOOOT more cash.

Dee18

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2016, 11:39:08 AM »
I became a parent late so I had traveled a lot, worked myself into a flexible job situation, etc, but I waited to buy a house until just after I became a parent... I wish I'd bought earlier or just kept renting as home ownership was more time consuming than I expected.  For me, becoming a parent later was the right choice.

Meowkins

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2016, 11:48:08 AM »
What are big things in YOUR life that you and That Guy want to do? Which of those things will be harder to do once your crotchspawn has arrived?

Secondhand, I will suggest looking for a new job now, seeing how a relative gave up looking for a new position once she got pregnant.

Besides you should always be looking for a better job.


Haha... I'm pretty terrified of going on maternity leave and then coming back to no job. Or just in general getting a new job that won't let me grow/develop since people have a perception that being a parent is essentially hanging up your hat. Maybe it is? I don't know.

I am applying to jobs!

I have around $12,000 in cash lying around. That will hopefully grow as we save for a while.

powersuitrecall

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2016, 11:52:48 AM »
We had kids late in life (I was 39).  The thing about having kids is that it takes your value system and completely turns it around.  Suddenly the simple things like time, health and security trump everything else.  It's not subtle at all.  At least this has been my experience.  I'm sure it effects other people in different ways.  For me, it has magnified my desire to FIRE 10 fold.

So, to answer your question, I too wish that I had been a better saver before kids.  If I hadn't been such a nonchalant investor, we could have been FI already!

totoro

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2016, 11:56:45 AM »
I wish we'd started earlier.

Hey, that's a surprising response I haven't heard. Why?

It's fantastic and I'd want to maximize the proportion of my finite lifespan I'll know my children and descendants for.

I mean, my daughter was born when I was 24 so there isn't a ton it could have been moved forward by, and I wouldn't want to change anything that would make her different if given a time machine, but one only has so many years and maybe we could have had nearly an entire additional year in this best phase of life I am aware of.

Oh my yes.   I waited until 30 and in hindsight I wish we'd started earlier.   Having kids is absolutely wonderful in my books and I can't wait for grandchildren.  The sense of family connection is the thing I treasure most in life.  My mom had me at 19 which was too young imo but boy she has sure had a full life with the grandkids and will likely live to see great grandkids.

Little Aussie Battler

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2016, 12:22:05 PM »
I wish that I had slept more.

englishteacheralex

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2016, 01:20:09 PM »
I wish we had started earlier, but that wasn't possible for us because we didn't meet/get married until our mid thirties. We conceived three months after marriage. I'm now pregnant with our second.

The first year was brutal, and we had no perspective or experience with babies, which made it much worse. I kept thinking...why did we do this? Will I ever get my life back?

Then the kid started sleeping through the night and everything changed. We started switching off babysitting nights with other couples. Got our bearings. The kid started getting even cuter. The whole thing started to be pretty awesome.

I wish we had started earlier because I'd love to have had three or four kids but I'm too old for that to be a possibility (probably could do it physically but not willing to put myself through it in my late thirties/early forties).

Here are some pieces of practical advice:

1. Don't worry about some kind of frantic bucket list to accomplish before kids. What you're really looking at are a few years of decreased freedom/flexibility in the toddler stage. Things change and it becomes possible to pretty much do all the same stuff you used to do. You're having a baby, not dying of cancer.

2. Get mom some pelvic floor physical therapy ASAP. Nobody told me how common it is for women to have issues with this after pregnancy/childbirth. Strengthening this area is a huge help for what happens afterwards. Trust me.

3. Whatever is f-ed up in  your relationship right now, get some therapy for it and hash it out. Sex? Housework disparities? Money? Everything is 5x more intense in sleep-deprived baby state. After being married for such a brief time, this part was really hard on us. There was a lot of marriage stuff we had to get through with hardly any sleep.

4. Get some routines dialed in for housework/leisure time, if you don't already. Talk about them. Who's going to do what? What's going to have to be outsourced?

5. As others have said, put a lot of effort into cultivating strong relationships with your support network. You're going to need these people. Do a lot of favors. Make friends with other parents. Having a baby can be very socially isolating if you aren't proactive.

6. As much as possible, try to live on one parent's income and save the other parent's. Thankfully, we did this and even though childcare is eating us alive, we aren't in dire straits.

Good luck!

Meowkins

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2016, 01:23:22 PM »
Whoa. That is an incredible post. Despite the fear-whining on my journal, this is starting to feel a little better.

Do the women on the thread have any advice on finding flexible job situations/navigating maternity leave discussions? I know we get maternity leave, I think about a month, but still looking for the employee handbook.

Meowkins

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2016, 01:24:28 PM »
Also:

You're having a baby, not dying of cancer.

LOL.

I'm a red panda

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2016, 01:26:28 PM »
Put off the things I did and had kids sooner.


I'm glad my husband got his PhD and we went to the Galapagos.  But we could have easily still done those things and had kids at the same time.  And I'd give up everything we have if I could know that having started earlier meant my first son would still be alive. His chromosomal issue isn't strictly correlated with age; but if I had kids at 24, instead of 34- it would have been a different egg, different sperm, and maybe everything would be okay.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 01:32:10 PM by iowajes »

mm1970

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2016, 01:43:58 PM »
Whoa. That is an incredible post. Despite the fear-whining on my journal, this is starting to feel a little better.

Do the women on the thread have any advice on finding flexible job situations/navigating maternity leave discussions? I know we get maternity leave, I think about a month, but still looking for the employee handbook.
Depending on the size of your employer, FMLA is 12 weeks.  (Unless you and spouse work for same place, then it's 12 weeks total for the 2 of you.)

My best advice on maternity leave:
1.  Find someone who did it.
2.  If you can't (I didn't with #1), then look up the laws.  Then ask HR.
3.  Then ask friends and google.  Seriously (I was the first at my last company to have a baby.)
4.  Plan on taking every last minute of maternity leave.  And go back earlier if you want (I did this, and went back earlier both times.)

Flexible job situations:  This will vary on the employer.
Your best bet, in my experience, is to negotiate this in place. I only know one person who was able to negotiate a flexible or reduced work hours job from the get-go.  Most companies want a "hard charger" (are you in DC?)
I worked reduced hours (30-32) with both kids for awhile. Because my bosses liked me, and they knew I was a good employee, they let me do it.
My current boss gives me amazing flexibility in hours and working from home.  Of course the pay blows.

I guess I did change jobs when my PT was taken away from me - so I negotiated part time at the new place, but it was for my old boss.  So it's not like I was an unknown.

Making Cookies

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2016, 01:47:23 PM »
I wish we'd started earlier.

Me too.  Hindsight...

Me three. I was neither making babies nor making great sums of money due to the particular career paths I was working my way through. Went to college late, started having babies during college, etc.

Has turned out fine and we are very happy but had we started a few years early we'd be empty nesters now and/or sitting on a big pile of money. We love our kids so I don't want to create the wrong impressions here. Not wishing away their childhoods.

just wishing I was younger and richer while raising our kids.

I wish we could have traveled more too but we started with more or less zero. Had to pay for college and everything else so we did alot with little. Lots of 2-3 hour day trips back then.

little_brown_dog

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2016, 04:11:04 PM »
For maternity leave:
1.   Plan on taking the max, even if you think you want to quit and stay home. You canít know for sure if you want to be a stay at home parent until you have a baby in hand. Trust me, your boss will have a backup plan in place if you decide to change your mind and never return from mat leave. You can swear up and down you are returning but they will be smart and have a plan just in case because they know that babies change even the best laid plans. Do not feel guilty, happens all the time.

2.   Trust your gut on when you want to start your leave. Halfway through my pregnancy I started feeling like there was no way id make it to my due date. I told people that I thought I wouldnít even make it to 39wks and everyone laughed and said ďoh we all say that!Ē I went ahead and started my leave using vacation time 4 weeks before I was due. Baby arrived halfway through her 37th week. Thanks to my gut, I got about a week of time off to just nest and plan so I wasnít scrambling the day I went into labor. If you can, taking time off before the baby arrives is AWESOME, but if you do need to go back it might cut into the time you have with baby. Plan accordingly.

3.   If you do quit, be gracious and awesome about it. Tell them as soon as you know (ex: donít wait for 2 weeks if you know sooner on your mat leave), offer to answer emails or be available for questions as people transition, and be sure to write a really nice resignation letter with lots of compliments. Be sure to thank your boss over the phone or in person, and tell them to keep you in mind if they need part time work down the road. I did this and my team came back and asked me to do part time work from home about 6 months after I left. If I hadnít made it clear that they should consider me, or if I had burned bridges, then they probably wouldnít have asked me to help them out or offered such a perfect arrangement.

darknight

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2016, 04:30:52 PM »
I'm a dad of two kids... I echo the responses.
Most of it's fear mongering.
You have 2 choices when you have a kid(s). Go enjoy life and look at your kids as an extension of being and energy in life along your journey -or- let them ruin your dreams and just "deal with them till they're 18". I know both types of parents.
My wife and I are 28, have a 3.5 year old and 6 month old. They bring 10x the purpose of life to us. I have a decent 8-5 job and we have fairly set schedules. Also, a tiny sidenote, I'm going to be quitting my job and moving halfway around the world to teach English in another country.. WITH OUR KIDS!!

Some people call it crazy, I just refuse to let other's opinions weigh me down. Usually those who have to have their kid in expensive daycare, preschool etc. and a big SUV are the ones to thing i'm crazy.
As far as doing things, you just change and adapt. No different from getting married, going to school, moving etc.
As far as hobbies, working out etc, you just gotta-want-it. I lift 6 days/week and wait to go till after my kiddos are in bed around 830. My wife is self employed and works when it's quite at night. I do go to a gym (it's $10 a month, I get a fantastic deal as it's usually $40+)...
I also bought a bike trailer and take my 3 year old on rides frequently. It makes riding my bike more fun than before.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2016, 04:34:01 PM »
Posting to follow! Don't have kids, will (hopefully) have them relatively soon. Loving the advice.

Cassie

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2016, 04:48:44 PM »
I got married young and had all 3 by the time I was 25. When the youngest went to school f.t. I started my college degree.  We never traveled much except for camping because we could not afford it.  Eventually I obtained a good job and 3 grad degrees although all the college was hard with kids. Since they have grown up I am enjoying my "20's" although I am now 62.  I don't think there is a right or wrong way. We had tons of energy for kids but little $ and we lived frugally. My friends that waited until 30 to have kids all are better off financially then we are because both had careers that they never gave up. On the other hand I got to stay home until my kids went to school. It is always a trade-off.

Dee18

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2016, 05:02:39 PM »
One thing I learned the hard way: to be eligible for FMLA you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months.

11ducks

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2016, 05:46:10 PM »
I had DS at 20. I regret not camping with friends, and not taking time to be by myself. I went from school to uni/ft work, to pregnant to parenting/Uni/work, never got to do the young adult 'finding myself aimlessness' of lazing around, road trips, indulging in passions like art classes or cooking school or spending a week by myself or travelling solo.

On the flip side, I'm 32 with an awesome 12DS, a good job and completing 2nd Masters. I think that having him young and poor made me a hardy person, an in many ways it was easier (energy, not mourning the loss of time/freedom/money that I didn't have yet anyway lol). Now my sibs are having babies in their 30s, dealing with stress and responsibilities, money issues and sleeplessness, and I wouldn't trade them for the world! Life is great and I'm incredibly lucky!

GuitarStv

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #32 on: September 26, 2016, 05:57:47 PM »
Also:

You're having a baby, not dying of cancer.

LOL.

When you're dying of cancer they give you medication for the pain, and worst case scenario the sweet release of death frees you.  Things aren't quite that easy when you have a kid . . .

HappierAtHome

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #33 on: September 26, 2016, 07:25:19 PM »
Great advice here! Posting to follow :-)

okits

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2016, 08:02:06 PM »
My only real regrets pre-children are that I didn't get established in a career I wanted to continue with and that I didn't clamp down much harder on my job stress while pregnant.  I feel like we got the big pieces right (rock-solid relationship with a great partner/co-parent, stable living accommodations, got in good-ish health beforehand, decent stash + spouse's income, enjoyed our youthful freedom hanging out with friends, having fun with hobbies, seeing the world.)

The career thing is more a want/contingency plan than actual financial need (one of the luxuries you get when two frugal savers marry).  As for the stress, well, I regret that I wasn't wiser back then but I can't change it now.

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2016, 01:46:41 AM »
I was planning on having kids earlier, DH wasn't planning on thinking about them until he finished uni (which he did... some years after me). I had some health problems at 22 that floored me and took years to get over - and while it drove me nuts at the time, I am so, so glad he held his ground and insisted on nothing until he felt comfortable and I was healthy.

Other than that? I wish we'd been able to take a few more big holidays together (anxiety on planes is part of my problems). But we're planning on adding to our band of adventurers, not creating gremlins that keep us at home. Plus, all of the grandparents are keen to look after them, so I believe there will be time for "parent-only" adventures later. We did a lot of saving to make sure we had all the options available, and because Australia is nice I'll be taking at least a year off work. I am ready for a new job, but this gives me time to really push back anything I don't want to do and become focused on only those things that benefit my career ("sorry, too tired, I don't have time for a new project now...").

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2016, 07:57:13 AM »
We had our first when DW was 29 and our second when she was 31 and seemed to work out pretty well for us.

I'll agree with everyone else that accomplishing some "bucket list" is not really necessary.  I'm glad we did a bunch of cool/fun stuff pre-kids including travel but we still do lots now so it's not a huge deal.

I'll second the getting Healthy that others mentioned. Both pregnancies went pretty smoothly but DW lost ~20 pounds before the 2nd one and that did make it go much easier and no chance of gestational diabetes (the first one it was a mild concern though luckily never actually happened).

The BIGGEST thing I wish I would of done was saved more money. I was horrible consuma sucka with a ton of credit card debt to the point where we almost had to claim bankruptcy when DW was pregnant with the 2nd. Guessing your already miles ahead of me on that one :)

I don't have much advice on the maternity leave/flexible scheduling aspect. I wound being a SAHD for 3 years and watching my niece/nephew also because my wife has a better job, insurance, and a Pension so we did not want her to take off. I'm transitioning back to full time now as kids are growing up :(

Some things our friends did -

- 1 person became SAHP (either temporarily like me or permanently )
-Negotiated work form home days and did a lot of evening/morning/nap time work
-1 switched careers completely for more flexible hours and a couple even became self employed
- 1 hired a full time nanny that they split with two friends, wound up being cheaper and baby could be watched at home which made mornings/evenings way less hectic
-Grandparent care (I know a lot of DC folk are not from around here so this may not be an option for you)

Anyway, congrats on the decision!! I think you have got a lot of good advice in the thread.

I never really thought much about the social aspect but I defintley think that helps and makes life easier/more enjoyable.  We stayed in our hometown and literally 4 of our friends, us and my sister all had our first kid in 2010 so we had almost zero change in our social circle/friends and all went through it together which was amazing :)

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2016, 08:10:26 AM »

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2016, 08:14:02 AM »
Question to everyone saying you wish you'd started earlier- how old were you when you had your first? A few people included it, but that's just made it more interesting- the mid-30's I expected with that answer. 24 I didn't expect with that answer. Would love to see some more points on that graph, so to speak.

charis

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2016, 08:28:38 AM »
I was 30 and 33 when we had ours.  I need to change my answer, though.   

Looking back on it now, I wouldn't change a thing.  I've been very lucky in many ways, and while I believe I would have been just as happy if things had gone differently, I think that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.  I wish I had made certain financial decisions differently with respect to grad school, I guess, but I'm still not sure I would change anything.

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2016, 08:42:37 AM »
Question to everyone saying you wish you'd started earlier- how old were you when you had your first? A few people included it, but that's just made it more interesting- the mid-30's I expected with that answer. 24 I didn't expect with that answer. Would love to see some more points on that graph, so to speak.

I was 30 and would have preferred to start at 26 - four more years with my kids and any future grandkids would mean a lot to me.  I don't believe I would have been as prepared prior to 26 to face the challenges. 

Guesl982374

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2016, 08:50:43 AM »
I wish I had done two things:

1) Took more risks with my time (e.g. go full time into business for myself). I will still do this with my little one but it will be tougher to put in the hours needed
2) Took 3-12 month off to travel. We may still do this in the next couple years with kid(s) in tow but it will be more difficult
3) More dates out

What my wife would probably say

1) Wish she started sooner to have more kids
2) Moved closer to our parents.
3) More dates out

Things we did right:
1) Plenty of savings prior as DINK
2) Plenty of travel
3) Moving out of a small 1br 'downtown HCOL' to an oversided 2 br condo  <-- Mostly offset daycare costs, didn't have to move while pregnant
4) Cut out drinking
5) Plenty of dates out, we just miss it now.

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #42 on: September 27, 2016, 09:10:15 AM »

Flexible job situations:  This will vary on the employer.
Your best bet, in my experience, is to negotiate this in place. I only know one person who was able to negotiate a flexible or reduced work hours job from the get-go. 

I second this.  I tried to negotiate part-time when I started my current job.  They told me no, but after I had been there a few months I was able to get it.  Now that I have the part-time, I am sure to let my boss know how grateful I am on a regular basis.

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #43 on: September 27, 2016, 09:12:05 AM »
3.   If you do quit, be gracious and awesome about it. Tell them as soon as you know (ex: donít wait for 2 weeks if you know sooner on your mat leave), offer to answer emails or be available for questions as people transition, and be sure to write a really nice resignation letter with lots of compliments.

I'm going to disagree with this advice if you have any sort of paid maternity or short term disability from the company.  In many companies, those benefits are not for people on terminal leave.  Once you tell them you aren't coming back, you may no longer be eligible for the benefits.

And if you aren't FMLA protected, they may just tell you that they no longer require your services at all, and cut you right then.

FrugalFan

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #44 on: September 27, 2016, 09:37:07 AM »
For us, not much. We both got PhDs, we travelled the world together, and we had great secure jobs when we had kids. I do wish we had started a bit earlier because we had some issues conceiving, but starting earlier may or may not have helped (had my first at 35). If we had saved more, I could probably have stayed home full time with the kids but I have a great flexible job now where I get to spend a lot of time with them so it is not a big regret. We'll be FI eventually.

Having kids has not prevented us from doing anything we love. They are just two and four, but they have also travelled the world with us and accompanied us during fieldwork in exotic locales. I love spending time with them so I don't think there is anything missing from my life or anything I wish I could do now but can't. There is a time when they are very young where you have little time to yourself, but things have improved dramatically on that front this year and I've started running again and will likely take art classes soon.

I will say that I agree with powersuitrecall that having kids really changed my priorities and the way I view life and work. I discovered MMM while on parental leave with my second because of that. So I'm glad I had already worked like crazy to land my amazing job because I don't think I'd have the time, desire, or motivation required now.

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #45 on: September 27, 2016, 10:53:48 AM »
I was 30 and 33 when we had ours.  I need to change my answer, though.   

Looking back on it now, I wouldn't change a thing.  I've been very lucky in many ways, and while I believe I would have been just as happy if things had gone differently, I think that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.  I wish I had made certain financial decisions differently with respect to grad school, I guess, but I'm still not sure I would change anything.
Right. I don't wish I had started earlier, and I was 35.75 and 42 when I had my two.  My husband is two years older than me!

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #46 on: September 27, 2016, 11:01:20 AM »


2.   Live on one income if possible. Donít box yourself in by assuming you wonít want (or need) a partner to quit work or drop to part time. Many couples realize after baby arrives that they do not want to manage two full time jobs during the baby years. Practice living off one income (and save the other) for a year before baby arrives. That way you will be able to make childcare choices based on preferences rather than financial necessity.


this is great advise, and one I'm glad we did.  We lived off my salary only for the first year, assumed the wife would go back to work at some point, but due to unforeseen things she is still staying at home 5 years later, and we are living perfectly well still off the one salary. 

Plus there's always the added bonus once your SO goes back to work, now you can save 100% of their income :)

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #47 on: September 27, 2016, 11:36:04 AM »
Congratulations on the decision to procreate! The world needs good people.

Being a parent is the best job in the world. None better.

Big befit of parenting is it gives a big opportunity to break the habit of navel-gazing. Frankly I think most of us are way too self-centred. Itís all about me and my stuff and where I go and what I eat and what I think because I am special. Weíre a bunch of narcissists and itís hard to even recognize it. Parenting will help break thatÖ

The miserable parents I know are the ones still wrapped up in themselves and how the responsibilities of parenthood have encroached on their pet hobbies.

The happy parents I know are the ones who have jumped in both feet and are doing the best damí job they can. It is super rewarding.

I was blowing a lot of time & money on things & stuff (travel, cars etc) but was bored & dissatisfied with life. Parenting gave me purpose. It is better to provide, instruct, give than to just always take & consume.

If I could go back, Iíd start the wife-search sooner, and start the ĎStache sooner. Thatís about it.

Good luck to you!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #48 on: September 27, 2016, 11:39:56 AM »


2.   Live on one income if possible. Donít box yourself in by assuming you wonít want (or need) a partner to quit work or drop to part time. Many couples realize after baby arrives that they do not want to manage two full time jobs during the baby years. Practice living off one income (and save the other) for a year before baby arrives. That way you will be able to make childcare choices based on preferences rather than financial necessity.


this is great advise, and one I'm glad we did.  We lived off my salary only for the first year, assumed the wife would go back to work at some point, but due to unforeseen things she is still staying at home 5 years later, and we are living perfectly well still off the one salary. 

Plus there's always the added bonus once your SO goes back to work, now you can save 100% of their income :)

This is so helpful in feeling less stressed, and when my wife decided she wasn't going back from leave, it wasn't at all concerning. Her work didn't want to lose her so they asked her to keep going part-time remotely, which she was able to keep up until her current pregnancy with twins.

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Re: What do you wish you did before you were parents?
« Reply #49 on: September 27, 2016, 03:40:59 PM »
Really love this thread and glad it was started. My husband and I currently do not have any kids but have been talking about it more and more. Seems we always have some reason to wait.. Like "well we will have a child after we move" then "ok we will after we finish remodeling" and then "ok how about after we save up some more..". Will we ever have a time come along when we say, yep were ready!?

I am 28 and he is 27, no debt - mortgage paid off, 30k savings. I feel we may be better off financially then many others when they have kids.. But for some reason I never feel it's good enough to start a family, or feels there's some reason to wait longer. Maybe I'm just worried about change.