Clucky – and not just cause it’s Easter

Longtime readers will remember my only ‘he says, she says’ post about puppies and babies.  So there’s no surprise that I’m pretty keen on having children, and not in some far off distance time. However, after a week of holidays, having a friend with a 7 year old stay and the current book I’m reading (called The Godmother, and given away free when the library was culling books), I have been thinking more seriously about being a parent.

Somehow, travelling with teddy seems oh so easy! source:
Somehow, travelling with teddy seems oh so easy!

I really enjoy some of my friends kids.  Other kids tend to drive me nuts.  It’s hard to know what reactions my children will arouse in me – and then I realise – it’ll be both!  Sometimes I will think they can do no wrong, whilst the world is secretly wishing there was a mute button on my baby/toddler/child.  Other times, I will curse their existence whilst others can clearly see it’s only a stage, or a mood, or the lack of sleep.

The biggest reality check whilst out shopping with my friend’s seven year old, is that they are continuously there, and so full of energy! There are so many questions.  There is so much energy.  The games never get boring to them.  Sure you can shower in peace at this age, which I am sure feels like a solid victory after going through the baby and toddler stage, but my oh my, it’s tiring.  And I tire easily from a day without children.

Still adorable? source:
Still adorable?

How do parents deal with the utter exhaustion?  I really can’t imagine the interrupted sleep.  Whilst I have every intention of returning to work, I won’t be much use to anyone if I’m getting negligible amounts of sleep.  And I don’t think I’ll be a great mother if I’m always tired – I’m not a great human now when I’m tired.  Just ask around!!

In light of these thoughts, I’ve realised that while I sometimes think ‘now’ would be the perfect time for kids, I also have some time.  The BF isn’t ready for children yet, for a few reasons that I respect.  We agree that children will be a few years away. With that in mind, it makes it easy for me to say ‘yes’ to two weeks in Japan with the State Emergency Service.  It makes me realise that whilst tubing and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef were options for children, would I have the money and inclination to do it with them?  Would the burden of their wants and needs and desires to do other things make it less enjoyable and as good as doing it as a couple?  So now I’m planning bigger and better – I’m thinking of squeezing visiting Russia, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia into a trip to (mainly go to) France.  I’m imagining the destinations I’d like to see in the US, cataloging activities and restaurants.  Planning to this level is something I’ve never done before – no matter how organised I may be in other facets of my life.

The kids you dream of - happy!! source:
The kids you dream of – happy!!

Sometime, this planning (and saving) stops me dead though –  when I think of the cost of schooling – even just of child care in the early years.  Maybe I should batten down the hatches and save every cent that’s not spent on essentials? And then I realise life is about balance – I can’t come down on the black or the white side of this issue, as much as I’d like to.  And if my parents are anything to go by, my desire to travel and my/our finances will always find a way, no matter the age or quantity of ankle-biters (or the logistics of car seats and hotel rooms).  So I will continue to plan the holidays even if my destination wishlist will never been done before kids.  Let’s face it – it’s human nature to dream, and we’re never done!

What are you thoughts? I know most of my regular commenters have children, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

19 Replies to “Clucky – and not just cause it’s Easter”

  1. I bet everyone will agree there's no one right time to have children, but after you've done some travelling and saving is better! On one hand, you can do most activities with kids; on the other hand, you will be somewhat restricted by their school schedules, activities and routines. I think that being a parent changes people a lot, because kids test your limits so much, and they know what buttons to press to annoy you the most, but it is balanced out by the rewards (of love, cuddles and watching them develop). I know there are some children who don't sleep well for years on end, but most do (my sleepless phase only lasted 3-4 months). I think the trick is to have some solid foundations / routines, such as work/daycare/school or whatever you decide, and make everything else fluid around that. I was talking with Link recently about being a parent and decided that for me it wasn't a "role," it was integrated with everything else.

    1. I certainly know there'll never be a 'right' time, but there's no need to rush into it either, so I'll heed the few milestones the BF wants.

      I'm praying for a 3-4 month of sleeplessness! Both of us are good sleepers, so it should be in their genes, right?

      Given my love of a routine, I'm sure I'll do my best to have some level of routine for my children, to help more than hinder! They say that predictability can be good..?!

  2. I think you will find a way to afford traveling with kids. When you want something bad enough, it will happen. I liked reading your introspection here, as kids are something I waffle back and forth on. I'm not even going to consider them until I'm at least 28-30, so I have time. I have never had a mothering/nuturing instinct, and I can't stand hearing kids scream at all. I like quiet, alone time, and the freedom to do what I want. As a parent, it's important to put your children's needs first, and I wouldn't want to resent that. I also don't have the most patience with things, let alone trying to entertain kids. I have limited experience, though, since my youngest closest relative is 7 years younger than me.

    Over the weekend though, we had the pleasure of meeting my cousin's 2 year old son. Seeing the boyfriend interact with him was amusing, and I at least know he will make a great dad if we decide to have a child. I'm just glad he's on the same page as me!

    1. I agree, I can see me travelling with kids. And… I'm 29, so smack bang in the window you see yourself considering kids!

      Let me assure you – I too like nice quiet time, and don't relish the sound of screaming kids, though I'm slowly trying to be more open minded of the situation.

  3. There's never a good time for a child. The worst month is the first one because their days are their nights and vice versa so you are up at 2 a.m. – 5 a.m. and desperately exhausted during the day trying to right their schedule.

    Mine started sleeping 7 hours straight at 2 months, so don't think it'll last forever.. take heart.

    I set a schedule, Ferberized him so he can sleep without my rocking him for half an hour and now things are getting better.

    As for the cost, they aren't as expensive as you think if you can refrain from buying a lot of junk.

    1. Ok, so long as it gets better after the first month!!

      I've only just learnt about this Ferberize and his method – some people are so against it (as will always be the way). I know my parents had the philosophy 'if you can still hear them cry, close another door'. I take heart in their approach. Dad says, if they aren't hungry, dirty or sick, they're fine, and it's largely true.

      I'm somewhat like you, I'm not a big junk buyer, so I'm not too worried about those costs, it's more the care costs as I return to work!

  4. Mr. G and I are serious about having kids soon (you may remember one of our goals this year is to set aside money as if we're paying for daycare) but of course we're still concerned about how much it will rock our world! Everyone assures us that we'll adjust (eventually). And thankfully babies are adorable so hopefully that will ease the transition. 🙂

    No pressure to answer this if it's too personal – Does your bf have something specific he wants to accomplish before having kids? I only ask because it was important for me to finish school beforehand, so I can understand not being ready. Some things just become very difficult with children in the mix. 🙂

    1. I think it'll certainly rock your world!!

      The BF would like to buy his own property before we move further in our relationship. Then we both have assets, and in the longer term, we will buy a family home together (with either the equity in both properties, or selling them both). I understand it, I would be the same in the reverse situation. Interestingly he'll likely sell his car to do it. I expect a car makes life much easier with children so we'll have to look into buying one again in the future.

  5. How do parents deal with the exhaustion? The thing is, if it gets too bad you can do CIO and form the sleep routine you need to survive. For us, J. was never a really chaotic sleeper – he slept long stretches (4 hours consistently) right from day 1, so we fell naturally into more of an "attachment parenting" style. However, he really didn't get into good sleep routines for years on end. In the end, about age 3.5 we still had to do some CIO. Sadly, Mr. 10 remembers this now, instead of the hours and hours we spent rocking and holding him as a baby! I think I was very concerned back then about all these things like "increased cortisol levels" when you leave a baby to cry but…here we are 10 years on and I honestly cannot see one iota of difference in resilience between the kids who were left to cry and those who were not! (*sigh!*)

    We travelled *heaps* with J. when he was under 3. I think he'd done 14 plane trips by the age of 3. DH's work involved lots of travel then and I used points to go along. Looking back though, I think that while you *can* travel with kids, it's not especially enjoyable. The effort and the way it puts kids out of routine (which you pay for later when you get home!) really does take away some of the pleasure of travelling. I would say "travel now" as much as you can and try to mentally be prepared for a stay-at-home period of at least 2-3 years when you have young children. Or perhaps plan for smaller scale, annual trips to child-friendly locations close to home. (Just my 2c worth!)

    1. I really do think I'll try the cry it out as soon as it's practical. I'm so sorry to hear that you left the CIO to later in J's life and that he now remembers it – the one thing all parents dread.

      But you're right – how many people look at how children where put to sleep in their babyhood, and attribute it to their intelligence, especially emotional, or anything else?

      I can imagine travel is certainly possible, but perhaps stressful! I think short domestic flights are probably the limit til they can walk and understand a bit of what's going on.

      I certainly think I am already considering the home bound few years, part of hashing things out in posts like this. Probably why I'm 'ready' now, as I've travelled so extensively, I don't think I'd be missing out if I had to stop travelling widely in the next few years.

  6. Ditto, ditto,ditto.

    It's never the "right" time if you are planning for it. But when it happens it becomes the right time.

    Finances, job, travel, fun, plans, hopes, relationships – all change.

    But that doesn't mean it is not worse, or better, or worse, just different. Some things are tiring abut being a parent, some thing boring, some things pure and unadulterated joy.

    I have many friends who never had children. They have paid off their mortgages earlier than me (we're still slugging away but live in a more expensive suburb than many of my childless friends which accounts for some of it), they travel o/s regularly (but my husband never wanted to go overseas which limited travel more than kids).

    But they are not happier than me. A couple of them wanted kids but left it too late. Just one more trip overseas to do! Well, as we know, women do not have fertility forever.

    I also see their lives as same old, same old. We all move through different seasons of our lives. My boys are grown up now. My husband and I are planning our trips overseas. In a few years the house will be empty and we will have more money for ourselves. But the extra money and quiet won't compensate for the missed joy and energy. Our boys have groups of friends over regularly. And it is so nice having young people around.

    As to how do you cope? You use networks of friends and family. Yes, you get tired. Yes, you get bored. But all jobs and all aspects of life have their boring bits. (Who likes cleaning the house over and over again?) You also let some things slide. I focused on my family and my career.

    Key for me is having a strong relationship between the mother and father. My husband and I have that and are consistent in our values. It's why are marriage lasted the distance and why we've brought up lovely boys. We found joy in simple pleasures when they were young – picnics, train trips to the city with a walk, ef over the Harbour Bridge. And we didn't spend much on newborns. Got lots of second hand things like cots and clothes from family, mostly used cloth nappies and cut up sheets as baby wipes (I don't like commercially made perfumed products) and breast fed. Yes, day care was expensive but it is only for a few years.

    Now our family functions with aunts, uncles and cousins are a ball. Everyone loves them. We're a loud and riotous clan.

    Can't even remember the lack of sleep (I seem to be worse with insomnia now). But no good night's sleep, no overseas trip, no paid off mortgage would make me give up my boys, my family now.

    And I never wanted kids!!! Mine came unexpectedly. (Yes, I knew what caused them.) but kids were never in my plan.

    Sorry, long response. But I think people hear and share too many negative stories about having kids. My only regret is I wished I relaxed more and enjoyed my boys when they were little more. It goes so quickly!

    1. I agree, there's no right time, and you can't plan it (truly).

      I think I see that life wouldn't be as fulfilled and joyful without children. I can't understand people who chose not to have kids, and can only think it's partly due to unhappy childhoods or family? I just don't know how you can live your adult life without all the joys of children – excitement, celebrations, discoveries and learnings.

      I'm interested to hear you say you never wanted kids, back then. I will certainly try to be relaxed, but I'm sure I'll need very regular reminders to be so!!

      PS I appreciate your long response.

      1. As a 20-something, I never wanted children. I am very good with babies but still do not go clucky over them. I could still see myself being happy if I was childless but am happy that I've had my two. I didn't get the "biological imperative" to reproduce but for a whole host of health reasons couldn't use the more reliable contraception. People, mainly males actually, made all sorts of comments along the lines that they thought all pregnancies were planned/expected in this day and age. In so much as having sex can lead to pregnancy, yes, but I'm kinda glad that I had to put my fate in luck. If I'd tried to plan having children, I'd probably be like my friends – just one more mortgage payment, just one more o/s trip, now's not the best time etc etc.

      2. "I just don't know how you can live your adult life without all the joys of children – excitement, celebrations, discoveries and learnings."

        Some of us do it because we have to – we have no choice in the matter 🙁

        1. HI Liz, thank you for you comment. It seems you have to do without children outside of your control by your comment. This is a bridge I'm yet to encounter, but may still have to. And in knowing this could be the case, it's a struggle I'm yet to be at peace with. My heart goes out to you.

  7. I love how you write about the big issues Sarah! Lots of great points above. Especially Lucinda who said that whenever it happens it becomes the 'right' time. Also the importance of nurturing the relationship with your partner. Having children is never quite what you expect, but what in life is!

    Having children actually fits quite well with minimalism and organising because it forces you to strip life back to the basics and focus on the important stuff. There is less time and energy for superfluous stuff and activities – you are busy enough keeping everyone fed, clothed, sheltered, and happy – including yourself – so unnecessary extras go by the wayside. There is much to enjoy about parenting, and I especially enjoy the 'homeliness' of caring for my family 🙂

    You will be a wonderful mum 🙂

    1. Thanks – I'm pleased I feel safe to write about all issues, and hash out my thoughts with people who have different backgrounds and experiences to friends 'my age'.

      I think it's pretty critical to have a strong and stable relationship before children, but no matter what you think I'm sure there'll still be testing times.

      I love to know that life can be more minimal! I must make sure my time is minimal – not too many activities. I can quickly see that spiraling out of control with more than one child!

  8. Knowing what you want is important. It then all balances on the decisions you make. LIfe with kids can be as simple or as chaotic as you let it be. Have fun in Japan!

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