Is there such a thing as the perfect time to start a family?
Can you break it down into an equation that creates the perfect balance of time spent enjoying being single, time spent enjoying just being a couple and time spent building a successful career?
If 10 is the number of years you want to enjoy being single and five is the number of years you want to enjoy life as a couple, with 15 being the number of years you want to spend focusing on a career – factoring in a baby may cause a computer meltdown.
Obviously reducing this down to simple hard and fast numbers just doesn’t work. Real life is more complicated.
And yet us women are often reminded that after the age of 35 our fertility falls off of a cliff.
Various studies and experts like to pop up from time to time and remind us our biological clock is ticking menacingly in the background as we enjoy our care-free childless lives.
The trouble is, these warnings always come with a bit of an insulting assumption, that us ladies are just put on this earth to breed.
There’s also often the assumption that we have made some kind of conscious choice to go rogue and play chicken with our ovaries – daring them to give up before we can be arsed to find ourselves a man.
There are various issues that come into play here:
Gone are the days that the best we could hope for was becoming a secretary putting up with daily grope-fests near the toilets.
Instead the sky is the limit. Therefore the thought of taking a year off plus having to cope with a huge baby bump while trying to be taken seriously in meetings seems like a bit much when we’re busy climbing the ladder.
Some people reckon we can have it all. But the fact remains, having a baby puts you out of action for at least a few months. And, lets’s face it, life never goes back to normal afterwards.
Finding the right person
There’s the tiny, insignificant detail of finding a man to actually get you pregnant.
It’s nice to find someone who you can stand to be around for more than five minutes seeing as you’re going to be experiencing the most stressful period of your life with them at your side.
We can and deserve to be picky these days.
Having the right living circumstances
Babies are small, but they seem to come with a lot of stuff for some reason. Then they grow and create more stuff, and mess.
Therefore an appropriate house, preferably one with a garden where you can banish them for the summer, is a must.
Feeling mentally prepared to have children
It’s not a casual decision, like say deciding to wear loafers instead of heels. This is a decision that changes your entire life forever.
Taking it lightly is not a good idea, for you or the child. It’s nice we now get to have some breathing space to get to know who we are and what we want before the pressure to have kids is applied.
It’s all very well and good reminding us of our body’s own frailties and limits. Yes some women do find they have problems conceiving in their late 30s and 40s. But fertility techniques are evolving all the time.
The fact of the matter is, society has changed. We aren’t born with the automatic vocation of getting married and breeding.
Surely this is just a part of evolution? We had kids at age 15 200 years ago because we were likely to be dead by 30.
Now we’re living until well into our 80s and 90s, and there are so many opportunities out there. Opportunities for travel, adventure, meeting different people and taking different career paths.
I know women who have had kids in their 40s.
Most of my friends have started a family in their 30s.
I know very few who had kids in their 20s.
It’s a sign of the times. Women finally have the power that they always should have had, the power to choose. We’re not just along for the ride. We get to say when.
So, is there an ideal time to have kids? I say the best time to have kids is when you feel ready.
Sure sometimes we are gifted with a, hopefully welcome, surprise.
But now that we are the masters of our own destinies, I say we need less of the pressure to conform to a traditional, outdated path and more respect because we’ve charted the right course for ourselves.
What do you think? Is there a right time to have children?