Today on the blog we’re so pumped to introduce you to Alex. She’s an educator, blogger, and entrepreneur who is a parenting expert. We were chatting the other day and her REAL approach to all things parenting urged us to as her, “What should we know before having kids to keep our relationship strong?”.
If you know us in real life, we don’t have children and have so many reservations about it.
Alex’s answers were INSANELY good. We highly recommend checking out what she’s up to (all her links are down below!) and we can’t wait to share her insight on keeping your relationship strong when you bring in the challenge of parenting.
Let’s get to it.
It was 3am in the morning and my 3-week old daughter had been awake for hours. Despite my best efforts, nothing I did to soothe her managed to calm her down. I tried nursing her and she puked everywhere. I tried bouncing her and she screamed bloody murder. So I continuously tried to nurse her, because that’s all I could think of to do.
“I don’t think she’s hungry,” said my husband and I completely lost it.
Lost it because there is nothing worse than not being able to comfort your newborn baby. Lost it as a result of the raging hormones coursing through my body. And lost it, because it is so hard to be kind when you’re barely functioning as a result of sleep deprivation.
Without a doubt, parenting is hard on a relationship. Nothing can really prepare a person for the sleepless nights, and the giant learning curve that takes place when navigating our way as new parents.
Still, once you and your significant other decide that you are ready to have kids, from both an emotional and financial standpoint, take the time to talk about what parenting will look like for the two of you. It is well worth the effort. In fact, I polled several parents of young children and here are “The 10 Questions To Ask Before Having Kids,” that we came up with:
1. Who Do We Leave Our Kids Too If We Both Die?
No one wants to think about this but in reality, horrible things do happen and so preparing for this type of ‘what if scenario’ is important. Maybe you’ve always thought that your sister would take your kids if you died, but who does your spouse think should take them? His parents? His brother? His sister? Get the conversation rolling and try to decide as a team who is best suited for this role and get it down on paper. Make it legal too because should the worst happen, the last thing anybody wants is to have a child stuck in a battle between your grieving family members over who is best suited to care for your child.
2. How Much Of Yourself Are You Willing To Give Up?
One of my husband’s good friends and his wife decided years ago that they only ever wanted one child for this very reason. As much as we would like it not to be true, a little bit of our own identity becomes blurred when we are in the thick of parenting young children. Is going to Starbucks every day important to you? Do You need to go on vacation once a year? Does your spouse buy new clothes weekly? How much of this, and the associated expenses, are of value to you and what are you each willing to compromise on?
3. What do you see as the dad’s role/ mom’s role/ in the child’s life and in the family unit as a whole?
Sounds obvious, right? But is it? We all grew up in different families with different rules and values. Spend time talking about what ‘traditional roles’ your parents played and how you see your future family functioning. Ask yourselves whether it will be similar to how you grew up or different. For example, maybe both of your parents worked full-time and you had a nanny but your husband’s mom stayed home and never went back to work. How has this shaped each of your views of a family and what do you want your own family to look like.
4. What Kind Of Mom or Dad Do You Want To Be?
In reality, you’ll never really know what type of parent you’ll be until you’re in the thick of it. But, is there any parenting style that you feel very strongly about? Spend time talking about how you’d each like to parent and what values you’d both like to instil in your children. Ask yourselves what career aspirations you each have and how will you balance those with your vision of the type of parent you’d like to be.
5. Will We Post Pictures Of Our Kids On Social Media?
In this day and age it is impossible to raise children without discussing this question because social media is everywhere. Do one or both of you feel strongly about not having your kids on social media? Are you in a career that makes it necessary for your child to be on social media and how will you navigate this?
6. Will We Circumcise Our Baby if it’s a Boy?
30 years ago, circumcision was the norm and many adult males are currently circumcised as a result. However, today circumcision is on a decline and it is seen is seen as a cosmetic surgery. In fact, if you do choose to circumcise, it costs between 300 and 500 dollars depending where you live. Spend some time researching and talking about whether circumcision is important to you and your spouse and for what reasons.
7. How Do We Maintain Our Relationship’s identity?
Kids are amazing but they quickly and easily take up all of our energy. Sometimes it might feel like your spouse loves your children more than you. Spend time thinking and talking about how you’ll nurture your own relationship and what that will look like. Will you have date nights? What will you do to stay connected as a couple? Don’t forget to ask how long either of you can go without sex too.
8. Am I going to Breastfeed and What Will I do If I can’t?
There is this notion out there that breast is best. But at what expense? There is nothing worse than the feeling that accompanies not being able to breastfeed your baby if that is what you have decided to do. Still, pumping constantly and trying to make it work is also stressful. Is there a point you’ll reach where you can give yourself permission to quit and what will that point look like?
Keep in mind that breastfed newborns feed frequently and that breastfeeding is very soothing to babies. As a result, the parent who isn’t breastfeeding may feel as though they are incapable of doing anything to help to soothe the baby. Spend time thinking about how the other partner can help (think cooking, cleaning etc.) during those long early days.
9. What will we do if a pre-screening test reveals an abnormality or if our baby is born with a birth defect or chronic illness?
This comes back to discussing your values are as a family. Take the time to discuss what you would do if you discovered something in a pre-screened test and see if you and your partner agree. Then discuss what you would do if your baby was born with some type of defect or chronic illness. What medical plan do you have to support this situation and what type of support system do you have in place?
10. Will We Vaccinate?
There is a growing movement in our society not to vaccinate. Do you or your spouse feel strongly either way? For me, it would have been a deal breaker if my partner was strongly opposed to vaccines. Whatever your stance is, make sure the two of you agree.
Having a family is life changing, cliché but true. At the end of the day, the most important question to ask your partner is,“Is having kids a must have for you?” Really take the time to think and talk this through before committing to a long term relationship or marriage. It surprises me the number of people that I know who are in a relationship where one person is adamant about having kids and the other is adamant about not having them. If this is the case, the relationship will surely eventually dissolve or one person will end up compromising to the point of resentment. Make sure that you and your partner truly want children and ask yourselves what you’ll do if you can’t get pregnant too.
What other questions would you add?
Whew. Those questions hit us right in the gut, right? Here’s where you can find more about Alex and what she’s up to: