What were your life goals to accomplish before having a kid?

Guest post by Kate
Goal setting workbook by FindingBalanceCo

My partner and I have decided that we’d like to start trying late next summer, and that got me thinking about the things I’d like to accomplish beforehand. When I brought it up with my friend, she encouraged me to travel more, saying “you’ll seeeeee.” But I have to admit I’m not so troubled about that.

I wonder if the offbeat community might offer a unique perspective as to the goals they’d like to have accomplished beforehand. After Googling, what I can find always discusses weight/nutrition, almost exclusively. While I’m sure those goals are helpful to many women, I appreciated how you handled it with Offbeat Bride, and I’m also sure there are other worthwhile goals worthy of discussion.

How did the idea of introducing a child (or children) to your life change what you wanted to accomplish personally? Or did it at all?

Comments on What were your life goals to accomplish before having a kid?

  1. I wish I had volunteered more for causes or organizations I am interested in. Between my degree, family, and kids, it is really hard to put aside time to explore those kinds of things. I know when my boys get older (they are both under 5) it will be much easier to pursue those sorts of things, but it is a nice advantage to have done your putting around before kids so you know exactly what you want to be involved in afterward.

  2. I would say that if there’s something you want to do that’s going to take a lot of logistical wrangling plus lots of head space, don’t wait until you have a newborn. For example, applying to grad school in between breast feeding and baby/mama crying jags was hard. I did it, but it was hard.

  3. We just had our baby girl and you’re right, it does take some goal refining.I really wanted to have least started my PhD and gone overseas beforehand. However, I think the idea that your life suddenly ends when you have kids is a little silly. Yeah, things are never as easy and getting your personal goals accomplished is more challenging, but I don’t think you have to throw your dreams away when you start a family, you just have more more person with which to share those dreams.

    • I agree! There isn’t anything that I can think of that we haven’t been able to do since our son was born last April – It just takes extra planning! =) I went back to school for another certification when he was 4mo old and this fall I am starting a new job. People thought I was crazy to be working and taking classes with an infant, but it forced me to be more organized!

      There is always trying to get in a better financial situation (which as hard as we try will take years, so we do it now) and traveling, but we are taking our first flight this week to visit friends. I’m anxious about traveling with a toddler, but its all do-able!

    • I’m glad you’re not overly troubled by the choruses of “you’ll seeeeee!” as I’ve yet to seeeeee many of those predictions come true for us. We’ve traveled long distances by car, plane and train and for us it worked out beautifully, *and* we loved sharing those experiences with the kiddo.

      The thing I wish I had time for now is to read a magazine. So really enjoy any carefree relaxing that you do. I also think back fondly on the more frequent sex we used to have (despite what Erica Jong et al claim, still good, happening, etc; just less frequent); take advantage of that while you can.

      • I agree wholeheartedly with your perspective on this. I heard all the “you’ll seeeee”s one person can take and have to say, aside from sitting home more weekend nights than in the past (and almost being happy to have the ‘excuse’ to stay in) – I haven’t see too many other things our lil guy has prevented us from enjoying.

        Although leisure reading and impromptu sex are two things that were affected – that doesn’t mean that they’ve been scratched off the life list FOREVER. Just have to be more creative in carving out your time.

    • My mother got a Masters AND a PhD in Nursing while she had three boys in the house – they were 8, 12, and 16 when she finished (I was away in college when she started her Masters). It takes a LOT of organization, and sometimes a lot of help from family and friends, but it CAN be done!

  4. I’m really interested to read responses to this one!
    I have a lot of things on my life-goal list, and also want to have kids. I started getting anxious because the more I wanted to do, the farther away parenthood seemed. I hated having my life goals at odds with each other.

    Recently my husband and I decided to relax and let nature take its course. Sure, some things will be a little more challenging with kids, but we’re (perhaps foolishly) thinking that life doesn’t have to end when you have kids. We’re blessed with a great family support network and flexible jobs, so I’m hoping we can make it all happen regardless of when the stork stops by.

    I’d love to hear about the things that really are virtually impossible post-kids… I’m just not willing to to believe the answer is “everything.”

  5. I suppose I was lucky, as really ‘having a family’ was my biggest goal anyway. I miss volunteering and amateur opera stuff, but I know I can pick both up again later.

  6. I probably would have chosen to save more money, but like they say, there’s no “right time” to have a baby. Haha. I also waited to finish my grad school program.

    Another thing I wanted to do (and will continue to do even after the baby comes in a few weeks!) is get better at photography. It’s a hobby/side job of mine, and I knew if I didn’t take the time to learn more before the baby came, it would be difficult to do afterwards. Plus, now I can take my own baby photos instead of hiring someone else to do it!

    I would also say if you have any home renovations (we’ve been renovating ours for two years), or have any big purchases you’d like to make (for me it was a new camera), do them before you get pregnant. It’s hard to justify “indulgent purchases” when there’s a baby coming (I’m sure this depends on the person/income).

    Basically, take the time before getting pregnant to focus on doing what you and your partner enjoy, that would probably be more difficult to do when an infant arrives. And I agree, life doesn’t have to stop when you have kids, but things will change, and it won’t just be the two of you anymore.

  7. Thanks for posting my question 🙂

    We are lucky in that we have traveled a lot, even living abroad for several years. We talk a lot about going back with young kids, so they’ll have the advantage of learning that language in a native environment.

    That’s part of why the talk of needing to travel beforehand rubs me the wrong way – I saw so many expat families with children ranging from infants to teenagers, and those that I knew were well adjusted families that traveled internationally very frequently together. With those families as role models, I’m more confident that I too can make it work if it is important to us. That, and something I read here the other week – something to the effect of “they have babies everywhere.”

    Oh, and I just realized another of my goals: I’d like to learn how to put up more food – canning, pickling, or even just freezing. I figure I’ll be contributing less to family funds, but in doing this maybe I’ll be able to keep from wasting money by learning to do some of these things myself. Maybe unrealistic to think that I’ll have all this time… but hey, I won’t know until I get there!

    • Just as some further evidence that it is possible to travel with kids:
      I took my first international flight when I was just a few months old, and have travelled for most of my childhood, along with my siblings. Both my siblings and I have grown up to be worldly, open-minded people. My sister wants to be a linguist and live in Japan!

      A tip on travelling with young kids who are prone to kicking seatbacks: have one parent or older sibling sit in front of them, so you don’t have to deal with irritated businessmen who turn around to give you a piece of their mind.

      • My partner and I both come from Expat families,and grew up traveling the world. He took his first passport photo within days of his birth. We’re an aviation family, and we’ll travel with infants and children.

        But we both know the torture of commuting home after an exhausting work week with an uncontrolled toddler running through the cabin or screaming and kicking the back of your seat.
        Traveling with children can be done. It’s an excellent opportunity for creativity, for practicing patience and preparedness, and for teaching our child to respect others.

    • Putting up more food simply takes time and a lot of patience, and usually a lot of standing at the oven if you’re doing cooking as part of the recipes and you do boiling baths instead of using a pressure cooker. Planning ahead helps a lot. Harvest, setup, prep, cook, jar, cool.

      Involving others in the household is great, but neighbors, friends, and new people to the area make it really fun. I had a canning dinner party with two others to help out with the sheer amount of processing, and they went home with happy tummies and some jars of their own. I would usually announce when I was going to harvest/can to coworkers, neighbors, and groups I was a part of so people could let me know if they were interested.

      We are expecting our first to arrive next month, and I am anxious about this year’s canning because of the sheer exhaustion everyone talks about. It definitely won’t keep me from trying, though I may be buying from farm stands instead of u-picking this year. I’m sure I will figure out how to breastfeed with one arm and stir peaches with the other, or something similar. There is a rhythm to it. With cans of food going up in price, it just makes sense to do what you can to reduce that expense, and have fun at it too. Like you said, I also may be thinking unrealistically about it, but we’ll see!

      • From my own personal experience, it’s pretty do-able to cook/can/pickle/bake with an infant (up to about a year old), then pretty much impossible the next year because they are mobile but won’t take directions and get into everything, and then after age two you can do it again because they can follow basic instructions and also start to help with the chopping and stirring. 🙂

    • I learned to can/preserve food while I was pregnant. This year, my daughter is 2, and I’ve been doing a lot of canning. Last year I picked my priorities, such as canning 100 lbs of tomatoes with a friend. It’s totally doable, and the apple and pear sauces will be a hit with your kiddo.

  8. My husband and I really wanted to be married and own a home before we had kids. Pretty blah.

    My own personal goal that I accomplished was having a very large tattoo done on my right thigh. It took three four hour sessions and I could still go in for a touch up. You can’t get tattoos while pregnant and I knew that once the baby arrived I would not have the money, time or restfulness that would be necessary for such a large piece. I love it and I am so glad I got it done!

  9. My husband and I wanted to be married for a few years and buy then settle into our own home prior to having a kid. Now we’ve been married 5 years, together 7, living in our own home for three years, AND just found our we’re pregnant! It fits our prior wants but I can’t help but panic and think “But if only we had done … gone … seen …. etc” Though we are thrilled for our situation, there is always that what if. I remember that the biggest what if is: What if we had waited TOO long trying to get everything done? I am satisfied with natures plan for us now, and I will be even more thrilled when I am not naueous anymore lol

  10. i was already established on the path toward achieving my major lifetime goal — i had started medical school and had a realistic view of the space between where i was and when i’d actually (finally!) *be* a doctor. the mister and i have always wanted kids someday, with that “someday” about 8 years down the road, dictated by the schedule of my medical training. only, once i entered that training, and saw the lifestyle of everyone who participates, we realized that the truly better time for us is *now.*

    so, planning for kids isn’t changing my goals, though it’s prolonging the timeline a little bit. rather, the lifestyle limitations needed to achieve those goals are moving our family plans up *sooner*, to a time when we’ll both have more time and energy to raise a child, at least in their first year, the way we really want to.

    • I’d like to hear more from you about how you’re planning to make this work. I’ve given up my plans to go back to school and finish my degree in neurobiology because I chose to have a baby instead. I would love to go to med school, but don’t think there’s any way I could do that and raise a child. But the idea of going back to school one day is constantly gnawing at the back of my mind. What year will you be in when you plan to have a baby? How are going to work out the logistics of juggling course work, training and baby? Tell me more… 🙂

      • i’m starting my second year of medical school — the last year of classroom education — in a week. i’m also getting an mph. the plan is to get pregnant any day now, and once the kiddo arrives, take a year off from the med school part and only do mph classes (which are more like undergrad, WAY easier than med school!), and join the class underneath me when they enter their 3rd year (the first of two clinical years). that way, i’ll be home with the babe for their first year of life, which is a really important one, developmentally. since we don’t have family close, we’ll have to do some amount of daycare once i go back to school.

        but this way, i’m not entering residency either pregnant or with an infant (since that first year of residency is the hardest), and i have something academically to show for the year of leave i’m taking. similarly, lots of people do research in that time.

        basically, although med school is crazy-hard, there is never so much flexibility in medical training — at least for a physician — as in those first 3 or 4 years. so, we’re hoping to take advantage of that. now, the whole “getting pregnant” thing may take [a lot!] longer than anticipated, so things may be shifted back a semester or a year, but the overall plan is still the same.

        hope that helps! let me know if you want to talk more. =) fwiw, several of my classmates have young kids, and there are three who are single mothers — one with a 3-year-old, one with a 5-year-old, and one with two high schoolers. so, it can be done!

  11. I’m in my late 30s. Finishing grad school before becoming a mom is my most doable goal. And maybe taking drum lessons!

    Fantasy goals would be waiting a few years after marriage before “trying” (as my mom always advised me to do), already owning a home, and living in a country (other than the U.S.) where I wouldn’t have to worry about medical costs for myself or my kid.

  12. I wanted to finish my grad program, too (currently in school to be a certified nurse midwife, whoo hoo!) but we ended up deciding, somewhat spontaneously, to start infertility treatment several months earlier than we had originally planned.
    The down-side to this is that I will be delivering in the middle of my last (and most hectic) semester. The upside, which I didn’t realize was an upside until the last couple of weeks, is that the not-very-hectic end of summer semester plus three week summer break has been the PERFECT time to be in my first trimester. I’ve been completely exhausted and a wee bit nauseous, which would have been AWFUL when we had originally planned to get pregnant.
    So, basically, I’m echoing what everyone else has said. There is no perfect time to have a baby, and you can continue your life goals once you have one- albeit with a bit more planning and dedication!

  13. I’ve recently made a list of 30 things before I turn 30 (I’m 22 now). And it came as a bit of a surprise to me that marriage & having kids aren’t anywhere on there. I don’t know if those will happen, if they do then they do, but I don’t want to put a timeline on it.
    But if I have my way I want to do so many things before I have kids – I want to compete at the Adult Nationals (figure skating), go to Comic Con (+1 if dressed as Slave Leia lol), visit abroad, etc.

  14. These are great! I have since realized that my best goals came after my daughter was born. She helped shape and refine my desires because sometimes, when you have too many options, it is just as hard as when you have none. She gave me direction.

    But the one I can think of is that I wanted to have religion figured out. I wanted to know what I was and what my beliefs were. But I did not complete this and have since come to terms with my current spiritual status. I hope to continue to explore this and discuss my exploration with my daughter, if she is interested.

    I like the tattoo one! That is one of my goals before the next kid. I want a huge chest tattoo, and dammit, it will happen soon!

  15. Uh oh, I’m writing down ideas like crazy. Bring them on, ladies!

    Mine would be (not really big or life changing goals, but things I’d need to do):

    Finish purging through all my stuff and unpack several 4-year-old boxes of things I should have never packed and moved anyway. Learn to live with less.

    Establish and follow a monthly budget.

    Find a fitness routine *before* I am forced to exercise. Maybe try walking around town with my camera?

    Pass my German language certification exam. I don’t want pregnancy hormones erasing from my brain all the stuff I’ve learnt before I get that certificate.

    Build on the relationship with my in-laws. I don’t want my kid sensing any tension between members of his most immediate family, and want them to feel welcomed in the new stage in our lives.

    • “Finish purging through all my stuff and unpack several 4-year-old boxes of things I should have never packed and moved anyway.”

      Yup. When I got pregnant this is pretty much how my “nesting” materialized. I purged all the boxes sitting in my closet by either unpacking or discarding them, organized our electronic extras (cables, etc) out of the cooler and into a door organizer, and FINALLY organized all the books in our library. Unfortunately, somewhere around the late second trimester the exhaustion hit me, and I never got back to finishing the other organizing projects I had slated to do. Oh well.

  16. We’re actively trying right now, while I’m in the middle of my undergrad degree. Between the mister’s ability to set his own hours at his clinic and my ability to ‘flex’ my time by choosing when to take classes, it’s a better schedule than had we waited until I was done my degree altogether. Of course, that assumes that we’ll get pregnant in the next couple of months, so who knows how it will work out exactly! I’d like to have the second one either before or after I finish grad school – does anybody have any anecdotes about completing a master’s while pregnant?

    We don’t really have any concerns regarding travel or other stuff; we have a gaggle of eager baby-sitters, both sets of inlaws (we’ll probably have to kidnap our kid/s/ back, lol) and neither of us has a problem traveling with kids – even grumpy ones.

    • My aunt completed her master’s while she was pregnant! It was tough for her, but she had a lot of support. My mom and some other aunts took it in shifts to drive her when she got too big to be comfortable in the driver’s seat, my grandma sent tons of healthy food, and she made sure to tell her professors as soon as she knew she was pregnant. ALL of them made arrangements to make it easier on her. (Some would delay assignment due dates, others overlooked tardiness, etc.)
      I won’t say it wasn’t tough for her, and I won’t say I know exactly what she went through. But it CAN be done. She had a ton of help and support from her huge, close family and awesome friends.
      Her daughter was a year and a half when my aunt graduated. Another plus: the baby is BRILLIANT. It’s a family joke now that since she was in graduate school in utero, how could she be anything BUT brilliant? My aunt is now a guidance counselor at a middle school and loves it, and the baby is the sweetest little thing. It worked out well for everyone.

  17. Honestly, I wish I’d somehow saved up more money first, or found a flexible job that I could keep. I know that travel is possible with small kids, but it’s a lot harder when you don’t have the cash for their own seats on the flight, and you can’t cut costs by sharing a hotel room with friends because your baby wakes up if anyone flushes the toilet. I know it’s possible to start a new job with kids, but it’s a lot harder to apply and interview when you can’t afford to have a babysitter come over frequently enough that your toddler gets used to her/him.

  18. My husband and I recently married (April 2011) and damn, did those baby-crack hormones hit me BIG TIME. Lucky (but somewhat frustrating) for me, I have a very logical, goal-oriented husband who is insisting we get a few things done before we start pro-creating.

    Our timeline is to save up a down payment for a house, which we should have by next summer, and get settled/make sure we can afford mortgage and new bills. Then we are going to save up for a trip to Europe, which should take 1-2 years, and once we’ve done all that, THEN we can start trying. So, we’re talking about 3 years..

    To be honest, I wish we could have one sooner (NOWW says my hormones), but I’m sure I’ll be grateful that I did things for the two of us, before it became the three of us. 🙂

    • I totally get you! Up until I met my husband I thought, maybe I’d get married, you know, after I won that Oscar and Emmy, on my fortieth birthday or something. Then I met my husband, bought a house, got married, went on a European honeymoon and now I’m like “Babies please!” Whenever I think of “Thing I’d Like to Do Before I Die,” having a child ranks as #1.

  19. Your life doesn’t stop when you have kids. You’re incapacitated (as in, you’re pretty much a useless basketcase) for a year, TOPS. The thing about kids is they’re portable and every day they’re more and more independent meaning you can do more than you could the last day.

    I wouldn’t worry so much about what you need to get done in terms of big life goals before they arrive. Truth is, those life goals and perspectives may change when a kid comes along anyway.

    If anything, I’d focus on the small, practical, physical and achievable – like actual things you need to get done. For example, painting a room. You will never ever get it done after kids come. But the big stuff? You can do the big stuff.

  20. Being 41 when I had my wee one, there isn’t much I regret not doing. I am really glad I did travel so much (and live in other countries) before as it will be a different experience with the little man coming along. I bought and renovated a house – which was hell at the time but a real dream of mine (and it’s great to live in now). My only regret is not keeping up my Japanese language, as you don’t use it you lose it, but I guess I can always start working on getting it back again.

    • Even though I am younger at 25 and having my first one, I definitely feel similar. My husband and I both have the tendency to jump at doing things or taking opportunities up rather than the longer term planning… This is one reason why we have hardly any money saved up for a house or for the baby, but we’ve been to Europe and many other places, we have great hobbies, and we’ve done a lot of amazing travel to see family. Because of this, we don’t feel dragged down by the idea of having children.

      Also, I studied Japanese in high school/college, and try to keep up with personal study at home, but yes, it’s very difficult without a speaking buddy! We’re also not hosting a Japanese guest this year through 4-H because of the impending birth, but hosting is a great way to practice as an adult! I plan on taking the first level of the JLPT in December if I’m able to with everything going on.

      • Good luck with the exam! Good on you – level 1 is difficult, so many Kanji. I managed Level 3, but struggle with the Kanji and the grammar. Chatting is more my thing!

  21. Since I tend to be a live-in-the-moment kind of gal, I didn’t really have any goals prior to children. Hindsight being the gift that it is, however, I can tell you now (13 years after my first child) I do wish
    1) I’d finished my degree already
    2) I’d had traveled more

    # 2 is especially a personal one because at the time of my first pregnancy I was living in the beautiful wonder that is Italy. Unfortunately, I had complications from the get go rendering me a homebody and then had a preemie and tiny little one on my hands the rest of my time there. We did not travel as we should have and it will be a forever regret.

    Jenn

  22. I wish we’d finished a bunch of house-related projects. But, if you have a project house, things are never really finished.

    I’m really glad we took a trip just the two of us, because we hadn’t done that before. (Not a trip where we weren’t visiting friends or family. This was a VACATION.) It was a backpacking, staying in sketchy places kind of trip, and we had a great time.

    I do have time to do the canning and crafting projects I hoped I’d be able to do. My kiddo is five months, and we’re doing okay so far — today I made about twelve half-pints of jam. Our garden is doing better than it’s done any previous year, because I’m home.

  23. It’s the little things for me… which is funny, that alot of the big stuff I thought would be more difficult (travelling, road trips, finishing my MA degree, getting a job) came pretty easy – infants are very portable (my son is almost one).

    So, for me, it’s turned into little stuff: my partner and I used to be movie buffs but with how much we have to plan for a sitter and such ahead of time, we don’t go as often, (the plus, though, is that we choose our movies verrry careful and when we do go it becomes a whole date night thing!).

    Also, vacationing more with just my partner. We love to bring our little guy with us, and he’s a great traveler and lots of fun, but it just isn’t the same as when it is only you and your partner. I wish we would have taken the opportunity to go on a big “babymoon” before our guy arrived.

    Everything else, though: my writing, finishing my education, finding a job as a professor – has all happened post-baby. This first year is pretty nuts but it only gets “easier”… well, different 😉

  24. I so agree with what Jess has said here. I remember worrying (before baby number 1) about all the things I wouldn’t be able to do once the baby came along, but my perspective changed so much after I had my baby. (Or, uh, maybe I just got super busy.) Now that I have three kids and they are each old enough to tie their own shoes and buckle their own seatbelts, I have the time to look around and revisit the question: ‘what were those things I was going to do before I had kids’? I find that I am a different person in so many ways – with completely different goals.

  25. I am so glad you posted this! We’re going to start trying this fall, and I’ve had plans to get a tattoo that I wanted for years. I think future baby will think it’s cool one day. 🙂

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