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.