When the decision is made to get married, it can be easy to think that there are no problems to face. You love each other and nothing else matters. To begin with, this is probably true, but for many there are issues ahead. Unless you are both in amazing jobs, financially it could be hard to determine the right time to have children. Sometimes the choice is made for you, but what if you need to make that choice?
Raising a child is not easy and certainly not cheap. It can cost around $300,000 to raise a child to 18 – around £230,000 – and this is for a second child. An only child will cost more. The areas that will bear the most cost is housing costs, followed by
- Other – parties, holidays and other non-essentials.
In the USA, there are healthcare and education costs that may not apply in the UK, but food and transport costs are more expensive there.
During the first years of marriage, it may be advisable to drink, dance and be merry, because once the children arrive, that will stop regardless of income. Baby sitters are few and far between on a Saturday night, and the idea of getting up to feed a child when you have a raging hangover is unpalatable at best, and irresponsible overall.
So, when is the best time to have a child? Depending on income, one partner may want to take extended maternity/paternity leave and for lower paid couples this can be a problem. Do you wait and save, possibly missing out on holidays and fun to build up a pot, or dive in and make do with what you have? If you agree, either way can work. It is when you both want different things that a marriage can become rocky.
In many ways families are becoming smaller. People are marrying and having children later, but this is tempered slightly by the onset of second marriages and starting the cycle again. It can be stressful trying to pay the bills, look after the children, save for the future and still have a life in the here and now.
After the children’s first few years, the expenses will increase. They become aware of fashion and don’t want to be the odd one out among friends. Add in school trips, keeping them entertained and the growing appetites as they reach their teens, and it is clearly a big commitment to make.
It has been questioned as to whether it is more important for a child to have a parent at home or the chance to become involved in activities that may have a high cost. Some couples will work shifts, so there is always someone there for the children, but at what expense to their marriage and quality of life.
So, What Have You Decided?
The final decision can rest only with the couple. You can consider the environment, the things to be given up, and the impact on your health and at times sanity, but when the desire for a child is there, nothing else will be important. Just make sure you sleep well for months before hand because it will soon become a thing of the past.