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You and your partner are thinking about having a baby in the near future. You've talked about it a bit, and the time seems nearly right. You may be reading up about folic acid, quitting smoking, ovulation calendars, and other preconception stuff.

But are you read to be a parent?

Emotional readiness is there any such thing?

Well, do you have any younger brothers and sisters, and perhaps nieces and nephews? Have you worked with kids? Do you like spending time with your friends' kids? Have you ever changed a diaper? Do you know how to get a baby to go to sleep? All of these are typical questions you might get when you discuss parenting readiness. The underlying idea is clearly that, in order to be ready to be a parent, you need to have experience with children.

It's great if you do if you have young kids in your life and you love their company, these experiences have probably enriched your life. That's wonderful. But... nothing prepares you for having your own baby. Nothing prepares you for the sleepless nights, those times the baby just won't stop crying whatever you do, or the way you feel when your baby gets her first vaccines. Nothing prepares you for potty training your child, or that first time your little angel pushes someone at the park, or that time that you have to go back to work because your maternity leave is up. Your parenting experience is unique.

It applies to you, your partner (if you have one, that is), and your child. Nothing prepares you for having your own baby but your own experience of trying to conceive, your own pregnancy, your own labor and delivery, and your own finding your way through trial and error. It's great if you already know how to put on a diaper, but don't worry if you don't I promise you it isn't rocket science. The hard questions that come with parenthood need to be figured out by you.

Experience with other people's kids won't prepare you. So, don't panic if you have zero experience with babies. You will once you have one. You'll be fine. Really. What do you need, then? You will preferably have a little bit of maturity. It helps if you know who you are, as a person what makes you tick. It helps if you know what you want from life. It helps if you have been in therapy to solve any issues you needed to solve, and it really helps if you love and like your partner and want to spend the rest of your life with him. Are you emotionally stable? You are ready to be a parent, or at least, as ready as you will ever be.

Practical preparations for parenthood

Practical preparations are a whole different matter entirely more objective than emotional preparations! There's the obvious, like whether you've got a stable income and a house big enough to raise your kids, but there is also the little less obvious. Are you settled in a place where you would like to raise your kids?

Do you feel good there, or are you going to be moving? If so, do you mind that? Those who are looking to stay put in the same place for a long time will want to think about things like the schools locally, if you like the general sub-culture in the context of raising children, and so on. Are you planning to both work full-time, or would one of you like to stay at home with your child or children? If so, can you survive with one income? What if the breadwinner loses their job?

Of course, you can never see into the future, but these are all things to think about. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, are you and your partner both on the same page when it comes to parenting? If you are not, things can get quite messy and your parenting views may even damage your relationship. So, definitely talk about that before you start trying to conceive, rather than assuming that parenting together will be fine and dandy. Read books, talk about things, and don't have a baby yet if you have some really bad disagreements.

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