When Is the Best Time to Have Kids? Older or Younger?
I had my kids in my thirties, even though my husband and I had been together since high school. We waited until we had some work experience under our belts, some financial stability and some ephemeral sense of maturity.
Many women in my mother's group had babies in their late thirties. They were proud of their choice to have kids later, feeling that they were secure enough in their careers to be able to take time off or to make a knowledgeable choice about not going back.
But a new study from Focus on Workplace Flexibility says that delaying children can actually lead to increased stress because the 24/7 demands of parenting conincide with increased pressure in the workplace, as well as the likelihood of aging parents and spouses. (The study also said a lot more about how modern parents manage their time.)
I sometimes tell people that there is no perfect time to have kids: that one's job never slows down enough; that you can never feel like there is enough in the bank account; that you have never seen enough of the world; or that you are even mature enough. That is true. But I have to admit that when I say that I am talking to people in their thirties, not their twenties.
I think it is good to have finished your education, to have been in the workforce and to have enough life experience to feel comfortable giving up your social life. I think that with age comes a little bit of wisdom and an ability to trust your instincts and figure out what is important. I know that I am a better mother for having waited; but I also know that having kids is stressful no matter what age.
I do worry about how to balance kids and aging parents, and I am a little mournful that I will be in my sixties when I have grandchildren but I think that I can handle the increased stress because of my life experience. It would have been more stressful for me to wonder what I was missing.
What do you think? Is it better to have kids earlier or later? Is there a best time to have a baby?
Want more? Last year I was writing about teacher's gifts. Do many end up on eBay?