It is well known that people are waiting longer and longer to have children. There is less urgency placed on the female body clock and more emphasis based on the career, financial independence and other experiences and self-development.
I myself did not have children as young as I thought I would. My family have a pattern of 21-year-old pregnancies happening 30 seconds after marriage. So, me at 28 years old, 4 years married and having my first baby, is very out of sorts for my clan!
The reason for this? Well I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to experience life before settling down.
I am sure you have heard of a bucket list? A list of things to do before you, well, kick the bucket. A cradle list is a list of things to do before you have children!
My list used to be pretty simple:
- get married
- buy a house
Then I met Alan and my world expanded immensely. He introduced me to travel and I soon found financial independence, a career and love for life without children.
We have been together for 8 years and married for 4. I had previously assumed that once I was married, I would be getting pregnant pretty quickly but as soon as we tied the knot something just switched in me! These legs crossed mighty fast and I am so grateful for our decision to wait.
Somewhere between Greece and Amsterdam on our honey-moon, I found that I was not ready for children. Something deep-seated inside me said I was not ready and that I wanted to experience life more.
I wanted to be able to teach my children more and have experiences to help guide this. I had a pretty sheltered childhood and while overseas I found that I really had not lived life at all.
I also looked at a lot of more mature relationships in my life and saw the breakdown of marital communication once kids had grown and left the nest.
So Where Do You Start in Creating a Cradle List of Your Own?
The most important thing to do first is get your partner on board.
Go out for dinner, have a few glasses of wine and get frank. Express your desire to create a list and why. The Why factor is really important, otherwise it will be a pipe-dream and you will be unlikely to have enough drive to accomplish much.
Our Why was to have no regrets or resentment once kids came along. We didn’t want to feel like we were giving up life to have children. Instead we now feel like we have introduced a child to a pretty cool life (and pretty cool parents if you ask us!)
What Do You Put on a Cradle List?
As I said before my list was very small before I met Alan. You want to start with some fundamental items.
Those items that are bigger picture, future, ‘responsible adult’ kind of achievements.
The Serious Stuff
- Buy a house
- Get married
- Pay off your debts
Of course, times are changing and with the steady rise of house prices and need for autonomy in relationships these are not as valued as they once were. I place them here as these were the two huge, big ticket items on my cradle list 10 years ago.
I managed to achieve 1. We got married in 2015 and are yet to lay roots in the housing market just yet. We gave up waiting for our wages to rise and house prices to drop and decided to revisit this part of the ‘Australian Dream’ at a later date.
Ok enough of the boring stuff lets think about some fun!
Plan it or don’t, you have to experience more than just your bubble. This is by far the most important thing we ever did before having Jaxon. Travelling opened our eyes to the way different cultures lived, putting our new found roles as parents into perspective. The cheaper destinations also afforded us the ability to pamper ourselves with lavish dinners and spa treatments as well as cocktails on the beach and truly a feel for ‘living the life’.
Spend a whole paycheck on something frivolous
You will not get a chance to do this again once children come along. Go buy a new wardrobe or even better: revisit point 1
Now You Want to Think About Self-Development
Establish a career
Something you can go back to after either in the field or consulting. Even if you decide not to you will have a resume under your belt for later. It will also help you afford other items on your list and greatly contribute to your self-worth.
Learn how to do your own hair/nails/waxing
You never know when times will be tough. Being able to provide for yourself (guilt free) as well as your children will come in handy more than you know.
Learn other important, saleable skills
Sewing, crafting, baking, freelance writing, editing – you never know where being a stay at home parent will take you. You may even be able to start your own side hustle.
A few more minor items to consider adding to the list. Its important to have long -term and short-term goals on this list as you can tick the smaller items off in between the larger ones which keeps your momentum going.
Short Term Goals
Play hooky and have a few me-days
Hey, you work hard and you can’t take that sick leave with you!
Go out all night and get home after sunrise
Just so you can vow to never do it again!
Create a nest egg
Saving is hard once you have another mouth to feed so while you are working you should seek advice on saving a portion of your wages in a high interest savings account. The rainy days will come.
Own a pet
Learning to love an animal after you have children is not the same as loving an animal like it is your baby. You will also get to see the kind of parent your partner will be.
Make peace with your family
You don’t want your family hang- ups impacting the way you parent. Even if ‘making peace’ means ‘distancing yourself’ like I had to. I am able to parent with a fresh outlook and clear mind that is not influenced by how I was raised.
Find your meditation
So important for self-appreciation and calming the spirit. Children are hard work and it is easy to lose yourself in the many amazing moments of it all. My meditation is lifting weights but yours might be to listen to music or run or cook, everyone’s version is different.
Do something dangerous
Always wanted to skydive? Or maybe you are afraid of sharks and you want to conquer this fear? Now is the time to do these things. You will be less likely to openly put yourself in harms way when you have someone depending on you.
These days I won’t so much as overtake someone in traffic without thinking of my son.
Learn how to cook
Basic skills. Take out is expensive. Home-cooked is healthy. Just do it.
Stay in bed for an entire weekend
Because you will not miss anything as much as not having to answer to anyone.
Go out to an expensive restaurant
Don’t look at the prices
Go on regular dates with your partner
Savour the ‘us-time’
Backpack at least once
There is something freeing about travelling without a suitcase.
There you have it! I hope I have got you thinking seriously about your desire to have children and how this will impact your life. Use this idea of a ‘Cradle List’ to set up yourself and your relationship with a solid foundation and appreciation for life before kids, so you never have to say you ‘gave up your life’.
We did this back in 2015 on our honeymoon and while we may not have been able to tick everything off the list, we did enough that we can happily say we were 100% BOTH ready for kids.
We are best friends and we have achieved this through the experiences we have shared together before having children.
We can now sit down after Jaxon has gone to sleep and reminisce about the days gone by and about all the wonderful things we achieved before Jax came along and trumped them all.
We know that we have done enough at least to settle our restlessness and we will be able to go back later and revisit the places and experiences that we loved the most, with our children even.
We also have a plan for how we see our post-children life (early days, I know) and we can confidently say that we are on the same page (hint: it includes a lot more travel…)
What’s on your cradle list?
I asked some real-world mums to tell me what they felt they had to accomplish before having children and here are a few responses to get your imagination flowing:
Definitely take a babymoon! Go somewhere, just the two of you, and really relish it. Babies are wonderful magic but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying every last bit of “just the two of you” magic you can get, before baby makes three.Rigel Celeste from https://www.holesinyoursocks.com
Develop relationships with other moms. Have a tribe before baby comes I could imagine would help so much. I only had one friend with kiddos with my first and although she was / is a life saver having a tribe beforehand I think would be awesome. As supportive and amazing your partner might be somethings only other moms can understand.Cousett Hoover from http://techiemamma.com
Go to the movies lol. It’s one thing you can’t really do w babies, and it feels silly to pay a babysitter to take care of the kids, so that you can go to a movie theater.MV Angadi from https://snippetsofparis.com/
I didnt know these existed before my oldest. But before my 1yr old we took a babymoon ; and we also took a week beach trip as our last vacay with our son.Amber Oliver from http://lookwhatlovemade.blog
We also did movie and dinner dates because we knew those would be hard to come by after baby.
We also came up with an in home quality time plan. Of course 4th tri is a major transition but the past several months , we choose a show to watch together after the kids are asleep before we head to bed as well. This way we can relax and chat.
I agree with forming a tribe. Part of my PPD stemmed from feeling lonely after my youngest, I’m JUST building my tribe and she is a year old – I wish I’d done it sooner.
In the year leading up to our first child’s birth we took one Friday off a month, giving us a three day weekend every month to do little trips. We knew our alone time would be limited once we had kids, so we wanted to take advantage of it just being the two of us. We did staycations, we went to different cities a few hour drive away, we adventured. I highly recommend it!Christie Furnival from https://www.ThisIsRealLifeMama.com
Another good cradle list thing would be to do home renovations before the baby arrives. You don’t want to live in a construction zone with a newborn!
There is a definite theme of quality time spent with your significant other in these responses. Time will be precious with a bubs so it is important to really make sure you stockpile the 1 on 1 time before bubs arrives.
The world really is your oyster and you have endless freedom to conquer anything you can imagine.
Is there anything else you want to achieve before baby arrives? Or maybe you have just had a baby and managed to complete a list of your own?
I would love to hear about your must-do items in the comments below!