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Deciding to have a baby is often the most significant choice you can make in your life. For women, in particular, it creates a cosmic shift in their day to day existence. Their routines, interests and priorities totally shift causing them to live vastly different lives to the ones they lived before – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse and a sometimes a mixture of both.
But is there ever a ‘right time’ to settle down and embark on the grand journey of motherhood?
Whilst there might not be a perfect time to do so, as all women have different goals, plans and experiences, there is an average time – 29.8 years, to be exact.
According to new research, 50% of Irish women are now having children between the ages of 30 and 39. The average age to have your first baby in Ireland is 29.8 years old, according to statistics from Chartmix, which places us fifth on the list of countries with the oldest first time mothers.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at whether there is a real ‘right time’ to have your first baby and if waiting until that magic age of 29.8 really is better. We’re speaking to other Irish mams about their experience of getting pregnant and having kids for the first time and examining some things you might want to consider if you’re choosing to start a family.
What Irish mams think
Kellie Kearney – Blogger at Mylittlebabog.com
“With all of my pregnancies, there were mixed emotions. I wasn’t sure whether I was ready to be a mum. I was a young, just out of my teens. I worried about money, where we would live and what our future would hold. Over the years we stressed about our finances but it always worked out for us in the end.
Now I’ve four beautiful children, each with their own wonderful personality and I’ve just celebrated my thirtieth birthday. For me, personally, I don’t think there was a right time to have a baby. It worked out perfect for us. It’s mayhem the best of days but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Although I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a Lotto win.”
Aly Harte – Artist and blogger at Alyharte.com
“When I found out I was pregnant, I was uncertain yet elated with the first baby, worried with the second after miscarrying in between the first two. Third time I was absolutely delighted as we had been trying for a while and had also been unsuccessful in an adoption venture.
“I had my first baby when I was twenty five which I think, in today’s society, is very young. I am not sure I was “ready” and I certainly was the only one of my friends at the time thinking about babies. Many of them were still single and enjoying nights out when I was breast feeding and struggling with the impact of newborn life!
I don’t think there is a right time to have children. For me, I had travelled a great deal, I didn’t quite have my career in check when I was twenty five but I did know that children was something we wanted and we would make work for the stage we were at in our relationship/marriage.
“I would imagine that being financially stable does help. But that wasn’t the case for us at all! We sacrificed a great deal in order to be able to raise the first two at least. I was a full time mum, we went down to one car, we moved house and put travel on hold.”
Things to consider before starting a family
The first thing you need to do is consider your true motivation for wanting to have a child. Are your motivations internal (guided by your own emotions and desire) or external (for example, to please others or because you think it’s the natural next step)?
Having a baby is a decision that you can’t take back and will most likely impact every aspect of your life, so you must be sure you are doing it for the right reasons – because you want one and you know that you can love, care for and raise the child into a good person.
Money isn’t everything but when you have a baby, there’s no doubt that being financially secure can help make life easier and a bit less stressful.
Children are expensive. Not only does it cost money to feed and clothe them but you may have to pay for childcare or reduce your working hours which can set you back considerably.
There’s no set amount you should be earning or saving before you start thinking about having kids, but it makes sense to take a hard look at your expenses and areas you could possible cut back on.
If you’re struggling to get from pay check to pay check, the timing might not be quite right.
You don’t need to give up your career or any hopes of a dream job when you get pregnant. But you will have to sacrifice some aspects of your career as you will definitely, at least, need to take time off after the birth – no matter how important your job is to you.
If you’re the kind of person who gives everything to their job, you may have to accept a change in priorities or the time you’re able to dedicate to work in future.
Having a baby will not limit your potential or make you less successful but it may have an impact on how you approach and feel about work.
You certainly don’t need to be married or in a committed relationship to raise a happy and healthy child, but having a good network of family, friends or a partner will help take the pressure off.
When you have your first baby, no matter how prepared you think you are, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a constant overwhelming feeling that you’re doing it all wrong.
Having people close to you will not only help provide you with reassurance but can give you emotional support and may even be able to help with childcare.
When you have a baby, you have to accept that your lifestyle will change in certain ways. For example, you probably won’t be able to get those regular Saturday and Sunday morning lie ins, or go on spontaneous nights out. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re going to sacrifice enjoyment, as children bring a whole different kind of fun that you may never have expected. But if there are certain aspects of your life that are not compatible with being a parent and that you’re unwilling to give up just yet, you may want to wait a while before changing everything.
Do you think there’s ever a ‘right time’ to have children? Let us know on social media by using the hashtag #MyIrishLife
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