We’ve all probably heard the stereotype of the young girl who has as set plan for her adult years, something like “get married by 25, finish having kids by 30.” Well, I was not one of those people. Not only did I not have a timeline, but I didn't even start my family until after I turned 30. Based on my own experiences, though, there were a few things I wish I knew before I got pregnant in my 30s. Not that I would change how things worked out for my partner and I, but hindsight is always 20/20, right?
I mean, sure, I had a general idea of how I hoped my family planning would play out. I knew that I wanted to get married, I knew that I didn’t want to wait too long to have kids, and I knew that I wanted to continue working in some capacity after starting a family. However, besides those basics, that was the extent of it. It was less of a solid plan and more of a general frame, if you will.
Ultimately, I got pregnant roughly a month after I turned 30, and delivered my son shortly before I turned 31. I’m now 33, and a few (hopefully) short months away from having my second baby. In other words, parenthood has been a major part of my 30s, so allow me to share what I wish I’d known before I got started:
I’ll Be Glad I Had Some Adventures In My 20s…
To be fair, my definition of “adventure” might be fairly tame compared to others. I did, however, get to live solo for a while, move to a new state with my then-boyfriend (now husband), travel to see family and be a tourist on a different continent for a couple weeks, and enjoy a few years as the proud owner of an annual pass to Disneyland without having to use a stroller during each visit.
None of these were necessarily bucket list items for me (except the travel), but, looking back, I’m very glad I got to experience them before my kids arrived. And, should we ever take our family to Disneyland, my husband and I are now very prepared.
...And Feel A Little Sad That It Might Be A While Before I Can Plan More
Admittedly, I have been itching for some new experiences and some new scenery, which I’m not sure would be the case if I hadn’t already had a few adventures that tested those waters. Though, if the arrival of my second baby is anything like my first, it’s going to be quite some time before I’ll feel ready to do anything that bold with my entire family. That doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to it, though.
It’s Not Too Late To Make A Career Change
The work I do now (freelance writing) is very different from the work I did before I had my son (higher education student affairs). I had a lot of feelings about putting my career on pause to start a family and, to be totally honest, I was nervous. However, the milestone also served as an opportunity to assess (and then re-assess) the path I was on, and consider (and then reconsider) how it might work for the family life I also wanted. And, as you can see, I made a change: one that has worked out quite well so far.
I Won’t Be The First, Nor The Last Of My Friends To Start A Family
I’m right smack in the middle, or at least it feels that way. A number of friends had babies before me, more have started since my first, and even now that I’m on my second, I still have a number of friends without kids. Granted, not all of my friends are the exact same age as me and not all of them are planning to have kids (I think), but I think the point still remains: if you wait until your 30s to have kids, someone you know will probably beat you to it.
Having Friends Who Started Before Me Is A Luxury
Speaking of those friends with kids, they are an amazing resource. From the wisdom they passed to me at my own baby shower, to their understanding when I send frustrated (and amusing, I hope) texts about my 2-year-old toddler's newest habits, I’ve benefited from their support countless times.
...And So Are Their Hand-Me-Downs
Especially if their hand-me-downs happen to include expensive breast pillows, baby carriers, and adorable Christmas sweaters.
I Will Wonder What I Did With My Time In My 20s
Looking back, I almost always felt busy. However, I also had a shocking amount of time to dedicate to things like reading poolside (I can't believe that was once a part of my weekend), or bingeing on the entire series of Lost in just a few months’ time, so it’s possible I had a different definition of “busy” back then.
I Will Occasionally Miss The Freedom Of Being A Grown-Ass, Child-Free Woman
The last time I binged six seasons of anything? Um, 2010. Although, perhaps I should mention that I did get to watch one season of Good Girls Revolt (may she RIP) when I was sick in bed for two days a few months ago. That’s practically the same thing, right?
The Early Years I Had With My Partner Are Precious Now
My spouse and I have been together since our senior year of college, and I knew early on that I was serious about him. This realization gave me zero desire to “play the field” after that. To some, it might seem like I missed out on something, but I treasure the early years of our relationship when we were navigating adulthood, figuring out careers, and making long-term plans together.
Plus, I’ve witnessed him through various stages of facial hair and fashion choices, which I’m not sure I would have had the privilege of otherwise.
I Wonder If I’d Feel Less Tired If I Tried This Whole Parenting Thing 10 Years Ago
If my superhuman ability to stay out late and (usually) avoid hangovers was any indicator, I would have been awesome at handling that newborn sleep deprivation at like, 23. I guess there’s no way to know, though. Plus, I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about it because I've got plenty of other things on my mind. Like my kid.