I strongly believe, that before your life as a couple changes drastically, like I’ve already explained here, there are some things that you should do. As a couple. Things that will let you embrace the changes, and that will help you prepare. Because honestly, otherwise you could end up imagining your life without kids, and the unspoiled freedom aka happiness that you could live in stead of, let’s say, changing diapers at 5 am. And living an imaginary life is never really healthy.
So here are the things that I think every couple should do before having a baby, to prepare yourself for changes, and to live them happily when they happen :
1. Travel together.
First, because it’s much more difficult to travel with kids. Second because while traveling, it’s really only the two of you in a totally new environment. Meaning that together you’ll experience totally new things. And that’s something that usually gets people closer to each other. So either it’ll get you even closer together, either you’ll decide you’re not right for each other. ( Which is a good thing to find out before you have kids. )
2. Move in together.
As with travelling, it either makes you stronger as a couple, either it’ll expose that you’re not made for each other. Cleaning the house, doing groceries, and paying bills is not as romantic as, let’s say a trip to Venice, but it definitely helps you find out if you should live together. It gives you time to adjust to each other expectations. And it’s easier to negotiate who’s doing the dishes before there is a baby to take care of!
3.Have an important event/celebration.
For most of people it’s a wedding. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s really about a moment when you gather your family and friends, and you announce your love to each other. Surly, a wedding gown, flowers and gifts makes it even more special :). Later on, when you’ll wake up in the middle of the night for that crying baby of yours, you’ll have this beautiful memory that’ll help you go thru the night.
4. Talk money.
Think about all the possibilities. What if one of you will want to go back to school? Stay at home with kids? Are you going to put aside money for kids studies? What about insurance? These are some important things to figure out before you have a kid.
5. Have a pet.
A dog or a cat. Fish doesn’t really count because there is not that much work involved to it :). Yes, I don’t think that you should take a pet just for fun of it! I think you should get a pet to live a transformation period from a no-worries lifestyle to a I-have-someone-to-feed-and-clean-after kind of one! Having a pet together, let’s you learn how to care and raise a creature as a couple. It forces you to limit your freedom a bit ( no more last minute vacation) but with a bonus of some furry love. So it lets you live the first stage of parenting, before it actually happens.
6. Learn how to fight and make up.
Everyone fights. What’s important is how you do it, and how you make up : do you hold on to your anger? Can you let go? Do you forgive?
And if your way of fighting is raising your voices, smashing the doors and dramatically gesticulating, than maybe you should raffinate your communication skills before having kids ( it might be stressful for babies to watch you fighting ).
7. Talk about your childhood issues.
It’s great to know what you lived through, which of your parents methods you want to duplicate, and what you would newer do as they did. Make sure that as a couple, you are mostly on the same page here. If one of you can’t imagine a happy childhood with out travelling the world, and another thinks it’s a huge waste of money to travel with kids, cause they won’t remember half of what they’ve seen, then you better talk it through before.
8. Imagine future in 10-20-40 years.
When you think about your life in a long term, do you have similar visions, or completely different? Can you relate to one another’s visions of future? Are there kids and grandkids in your vision? Because if not, than maybe you’re not ready to have kids after all..
Of course these are my personal musts, but I’d love to know what are yours? And if you are a couple with kids, but you didn’t do any of the above, what is your secret to a happy family life?