Whether you are decidedly in the “wants kids” camp or still on the fence, there are a few things all of you should do while you’re still child-free simply because you still can or because they’ll help prepare you for the life-changing event of raising kids. After the jump, 20 things everyone should do before having kids.
1. Enjoy having a tidy, clean, cool-looking apartment. Once babies come, your place will be overrun with crap — big, plastic baby crap, at first, and then big, plastic toddler crap, and then random crap like shoes and backpacks and then teenage crap which I don’t even want to think about yet.
2. Have a real vacation. Several of them. And travel to far-away lands.
3. Get all the drugs and booze and partying out of your system.
4. Achieve some career goals. You’ll definitely still have a chance to pursue career goals once you have kids, but your time will be much more limited and it will help if you already have some successes under you to give you a leg up.
5. Sleep naked as much as possible.
6. Sleep in.
7. Get health insurance. Duh.
8. Fail at something epically.
Parenting poses lots of challenges and chances are you are going to fail at some of them before you succeed. Or you’re going to succeed for a while and then fail a little. Or you’re going to have children who fail at some things, sometimes. Having experience dealing with epic failure and the resulting emotions will make you better equipped to handle failures in parenting.
9. Establish some savings and an emergency nest egg that will support your family (i.e. cover all bills and living expenses) for at least six months.
10. Spend time with kids (kids in the family, friends’ kids, in a volunteer position, or just go hang out at your local ice cream parlor for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon).
11. Spend holidays with people other than your family.
When you have children, your parents and your partners’ parents are suddenly going to want to see “you” (i.e. your kids) a lot more. Every holiday will be spoken for, whether it’s with your family or your in-laws, so take advantage of the freedom to spend Thanksgiving with your best friends before it becomes a reason to make you feel guilty for keeping your children away from their grandparents.
12. Cuss as much as you want without putting money in a swear jar or apologizing to your spouse or pretending you said “fudge” or “tassel.”
13. Next month, take 1/4 of your monthly income and either set it on fire or, better, donate it to a local children’s charity, and see if you can still afford to pay your bills and maybe order a pizza one Friday night.
14. See movies in the movie theater — lots of movies, as many as you can. Once you have kids, you’ll have a hard time justifying the expense of a babysitter so you and your spouse can hang around in the dark together not talking and not having sex. And if you have the chance to go without your significant other, you’ll probably want to spend that time catching up with friends, getting your nails done, or sleeping instead.
15. Spend three nights in a row waking up every two hours for an hour each time, and imagine doing that for three months while your ears bleed.
16. Take an infant CPR class.
17. Spend an afternoon spelling out words, like “i-c-e c-r-e-a-m” and “s-w-i-m-m-i-n-g p-o-o-l” to your significant other. See if you still want to bone at the end of the day.
18. Have lots of morning sex.
19. Own white furniture.
20. Decide for sure whether you really want them.
cporoski June 19, 2012, 12:10 pm
what swear word rhymes with tassel?
Riefer June 19, 2012, 12:35 pm
honeybeenicki June 19, 2012, 12:48 pm
That’s what I thought it was.
cporoski June 19, 2012, 1:21 pm
duh, of course. you are totally right.
Rachel June 19, 2012, 2:28 pm
Haha, I couldn’t think of it at first either.
katie June 19, 2012, 12:14 pm
haha.. about swearing… so i worked in restaurants and around cooks in college and then after college… swearing is so typical in that enviornment. like you just do it, you dont think about it. our lead line guy at the end of the night used to take those steel wool silver scrubber things and hold it up to his crotch and yell “space pussy” like the whole time he was cleaning.
anyway, now being around kids sometimes (my boyfriends neice, my friends little babies even though they cant comprehend it yet), it is almost impossible to turn it off. that will be so hard. and also because im sure it will be frustrating so i will want to swear anyway.
oh see there i go…. lol
JK June 19, 2012, 12:19 pm
I usually swear in english (even though we speak spanish at home), when she was like 2 my eldest let out a loud “F*CK!” that´s when I knew I had to cut down on the swearing. Of course some do escape from time to time, but now the eldest is old enough to know not to repeat them.
honeybeenicki June 19, 2012, 12:49 pm
My husband said that when his youngest was about 2ish, he walked into the room he was playing in to find his son smacking the floor really hard with a baseball bat and each time it hit the floor, he yelled “Shit!” I am so happy I wasn’t around then because I would have lost it and would probably still be laughing today.
MissDre June 19, 2012, 1:00 pm
Ha! Try hearing your 4 year old nephew scream at his 7 year old brother… “FUCK YOU YOU STUPID BITCH!” when they get in a fight over a Tonka truck. I nearly died and I didn’t know what to do, because I was babysitting at the time.
Vere June 29, 2012, 3:09 pm
I live in Italy and in the summer we all move to our beach house, so my neighbours had a little girl with them about 3 1/2 yo, she went to sit in her little plastic chair and the chair broke, we were all very surprised when she yelled “porca puttana” which translates to, “dirty whore” specially after her parents were being such snobs about her education, school, au pair from France, etc. It was funny as hell!!
GatorGirl June 19, 2012, 1:31 pm
My little sister dropped a babydoll once when she was about 2 and a half and yelled “damn it” really loudly. My parents and I just laughed…we had no idea what else to do.
JK June 19, 2012, 1:32 pm
That´s the worst part, those things make you laugh, but you have to try not to, or the kid will just do it over and over (and over) again!
Brad June 19, 2012, 1:42 pm
I can just hear teachers/principles calling me some day complaining about my kids cursing at school. Because if my kid did what you described I’d probably laugh and would be hard pressed to get mad.
Sue Jones June 20, 2012, 12:00 am
In our house the swear jar doesn’t count if you slam your finger in the sliding door or otherwise acutely injure yourself like I did on Saturday, but otherwise, my kid is slowly getting rich…
Brad June 20, 2012, 12:32 am
Yeah there’s no way I’ll ever have a swear jar if I have kids (unless my wife forces me …) because if I did I’d go broke. There would have to be a clause added that cursing during video games or homework don’t count, lol. 😀
JK June 19, 2012, 12:22 pm
Great list, Wendy! I totally agree with all the points, esp. the travelling… I never had the chance to do major trips before having kids, and now it will be at least a few years before we can, the 1 year old is terrible, and we´d like the girls to enjoy the trip, as well as us.
And the movies. In the last 4 1/2 years I´ve only seen one movie in a cinema.. and it was Toy Story 3.
katie June 19, 2012, 12:24 pm
i dont see movies at the theater like ever… i redbox it. lol. but i honestly dont think im missing out on that… i guess i just dont care very much about the “theater experience”? they are always cold, dirty, and if im there alone i think im going to get raped. and then its dark, and no matter what time of day it is im always tired afterwards. sometimes i get a headache. i would rather be on my couch with my cats in my pajamas. lol
also, toy story 3 was amazing and im pretty sure my boyfriend cried… and he admits it. lol
JK June 19, 2012, 12:31 pm
I cried like crazy, but I blame it on the hormones (I was newly pregnant with the 2nd, but didn´t know it yet!)
Fabelle June 19, 2012, 12:58 pm
I totally agree with you about the theatre experience… live shows are worth it, but watching something on a screen in a theatre is really uncomfortable for me! I’d rather be cuddled up on a couch when I’m watching a movie.
GatorGirl June 19, 2012, 12:25 pm
This is fabulous. Honest, real, funny, general awesomeness.
#15 is great. I was a foster mom to a litter of 6 kittens which required feedings every 4 hours. The sleep deprevation made me almost nuts.
Also Wendy you look amazing in the picture.
fast eddie June 19, 2012, 5:12 pm
I was going to suggest fostering nursing kittens as we did last year. It’s an amazing experience and a real eye opener. There is no way I could do that by myself. Any local animal shelter will be very happy to let you do that. The good news is the feeding interval gets longer after they open their eyes when they’re about 2 weeks old.
We’re currently fostering a second litter of this year that thankfully don’t need to be bottle feed. I love doing it and the little ones get socialized therefore more successfully adopted. The shelter will look after them if you want a weekend away from home and unable to get a kitten sitter. Often the side effect is keeping one and that’s a good thing. Taking them back isn’t at all fun.
JK June 19, 2012, 12:35 pm
A few more suggestions:
21. Learn to not let what other people say youp´re doing wrong get to you. Everybody is going to tell you what you should/shouldn´t be doing as soon as you start trying to conceive, and from then on.
22. Enjoy your prebaby body. You can lose the weight, but your body will never be exactly the same again.
23. Get over your hangups about being seen in various stages of undress. You WILL have several people staring (and delving into) your nether regions, and if you decide to breastfeed, you will end up doing it in public eventually (and it´s a lot more awkward trying to cover up than doing tit without calling attention to yourself).
littlebit June 19, 2012, 1:00 pm
Haha #3 at Snooki…sadly, I don’t think that’s even close to being outta her system yet…scary!
Brad June 19, 2012, 1:14 pm
Wow I’m already leaning towards not wanting kids ever and seeing this least only adds fuel to that fire. And #13 … if that’s true then any kid of mine better come out of his mother with a damn job.
JK June 19, 2012, 1:28 pm
It´s not THAT bad. People gift a lot of things (esp. when kids are newborn, when they go through clothes the quickest), the big buys (pushchair, high chair, crib, etc) last a long time, so they pay for themselves.
And in my social group, at least, we lend each other all the stuff our kids have outgrown, so you end up saving quite a bit that way (and get rid of some clutter while you´re at it).
I have no idea how much diapers cost in the US, but once you find the brand/model that works for your kid you don´t use that many.
honeybeenicki June 19, 2012, 2:03 pm
My dad has been telling me since I can remember to get a job and move out. So when I had a lemonade stand at about 5 years old, I packed my suitcase and had it out there with me.
cporoski June 19, 2012, 2:09 pm
My husband and I are currently attempting to have kids…which is so much fun 😉 I was very nervous about the idea. Then I realized it is like running a long race. It is hard and you might be sweaty and bleeding by the end, but it is totally worth it.
Brad June 19, 2012, 7:21 pm
kerrycontrary June 19, 2012, 1:36 pm
hahah number 13 is either really funny or really sad. I think it also applies to student loans which eat up 1/4 of my income. Why don’t I just set my money on fire instead.
Brad June 19, 2012, 2:01 pm
21. Get a vasectomy and “forget” to tell your wife. I mean after a few months she’ll totally get over that wanting a baby thing anyway, amiright?
cporoski June 19, 2012, 2:04 pm
that will go over like a lead balloon.
MsMisery June 19, 2012, 2:37 pm
Heh, this was just a recent “Dear Prudence” on Slate.com (I like multiple advice columns). Prudie told the wife that her husband was a sociopath ^_^
Brad June 19, 2012, 2:52 pm
Yeah that’s exactly where I got that from (it was meant to be a throw back to that thread). Wish I was, but I’m not THAT clever lol.
McLovin June 19, 2012, 2:21 pm
Yes, definitely do all of those things before you become a parent. Because someday soon – almost without warning – the kid turns 14 and starts wearing your favorite t-shirts, borrowing your shoes, raiding the fridge simply because it’s been 30 minutes since his last meal, and will point out every attractive female in public and ask way too loudly *think you could still go out with her?*
Brad June 19, 2012, 2:30 pm
Next time just look at him, shrug, and say been there; done that with a straight face. And watch his reaction.
fast eddie June 19, 2012, 5:25 pm
Re. #3 I couldn’t believe my eyes about suggesting using drugs. I tried MJ 3-4 times, hash twice, coke once in the 70s. Mostly what I got out of is was SICK. Drugs are not going to ever go away and we a society need to handle them far better then the current methods. If your going to experiment do it in a safe environment, DO NOT DRIVE, and have a recovery and escape plans in place beforehand.
ele4phant June 19, 2012, 6:10 pm
I think number three can have the caveat “if you’re into it.” Not everybody enjoys the thought of partying, not everybody has an interest in trying drugs. If you’re not interested, no reason to do it just to have tried it. I’ve smoked pot, but anything harder just seems…boring, and I’d rather not waste an evening just to have that experience that based on description alone, I won’t really enjoy.
However, if you DO enjoy partying, if you DO have an interest in experimenting with drugs, get it all done before having kids.
That's_Bananas June 19, 2012, 8:35 pm
I’m happy you are part of this community, Fast Eddie. I feel like you are always looking out for everyone.
fast eddie June 20, 2012, 12:27 am
That’s what us grandfatherly old folks enjoy doing.
One important note, I came across a very small amount weed that someone left on the golf course. A few months later I decided a 20 years hiatus was long enough and rolled a very skinny dubby. It must have been laced with something because I got very, very, very sick. The lesson there was KNOW WHAT YOUR SMOKING BEFORE DOING IT. It could be dangerous.
ele4phant June 20, 2012, 1:57 am
Not that I have firsthand experience of what weed was like twenty years ago…but supposedly hasn’t weed gotten quite a bit stronger, comparatively speaking?
That said, yes, its probably not a good idea to take something you’re not absolutely sure of what it is.
Addie Pray June 19, 2012, 7:09 pm
#21 (or a continuation of #2): road trip through Quebec!
Kristina June 19, 2012, 7:37 pm
Okay, I’m ready to have a baby. Kidding.
But really, this scares me-in a good way, I think.
Anna June 20, 2012, 4:24 am
I’m going to add one thing:
21) Be a daredevil. If you want to jump four wheelers, blow up tannerite, ride motorcycles, and raft class 5 rapids, do it while you’re childless! After I have kids, I probably will feel differently about putting myself in danger because they will rely on me.
bittergaymark June 20, 2012, 6:22 am
21) Hot metrosexual men should go ahead and have that one GAY fling they’ve always secretly wondered about… 😉
Sisisodapop October 27, 2013, 5:20 pm
1/4 of your income. Ha. Not when you’re a single mom of 2 toddlers. Literally 1/2 of my income goes to daycare, med insurance, their diapers, etc. it’s gotten better now that my youngest has switched from formula to milk, and a bit better again now that my oldest is potty training. But, still. Don’t forget about birthdays, Christmas, Halloween on top of that regularly allocated chunk of income.
Seriously though, as sad as it is that you pretty much have to be well off to afford children, the reality is that kids are really freakin expensive. *really wish I had investigated the costs of daycare beforehand. Wow.