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MARRIAGE MONDAYS : WHEN KIDS ARE WHAT’S NEXT A COUPLE OF THOUGHTS

This is another Marriage Monday post that also sits in between that series and my “Mamahood” series, but it is something that has really been on my heart lately.  In part because we are heavily in the 2 or 3 kids debate, which I have shared here before…and also because a lot of people we care about are either beginning to think about or have recently entered into this phase of life…when kids are next.  We are no parenting experts over here, and often joke that we are “parents of the year” the 100 times a day we screw things up! But we are trying- and I wanted to share 3 tips for those who might be starting to think about adding kids to their family, and when that happens.  So- from one who openly admits to messing up all the time at the motherhood thing- take it for what it’s worth. But I hope it helps someone! 🙂

Top 3 preparation tips when/if you decide you want to become parents

1). Get a dog (or at least a cat, fish, or minimum a plant). All joking aside, I completely know that dog ownership isn’t for everyone, and I totally don’t recommend getting a dog unless you love pets! BUT…dog ownership in particular gave us the BEST glimpse of what it was going to be like to be new parents.  Now, let me be clear, it obviously isn’t quite the same intensity (though I do believe that dog parents love their pets like we love our babies!) of work and commitment. But when we got our pup, we were no longer in charge of our time. Instead of doing whatever we wanted all the time (and leaving whatever we wanted on the counters ;-)), we couldn’t be gone for more than a few hours at a time, and our first priority upon returning was taking care of her. The same principals occur with other animals, but I do think having (and potty training!) a dog is the most difficult of the options.  Our time was no longer our own- and that is exactly what happens as a parent (to a much larger degree!). So when we brought home our first baby, we were already used to tending to other’s needs we could just sit around how we used to.  It made that transition SO much easier.

2). This is a tricky one but is something that I truly believe is the most important piece of parenting successfully with your spouse.  You have to remember that the two of you are going to be a team (as cheesy as it sounds)Not ever one against the other, or one in one out. Especially as our kids get older and things get trying sometimes, we always have to remember that we are on the SAME side…every time…no exceptions. And if there are parenting to work out that we don’t agree on or know how to deal with, it isn’t in front of the kids.  What this really plays into for me is that there is no primary parent in our family. I might be with the kids more because I get a lot of daytime with them that Michael doesn’t get. But we have always been very careful- starting back to when we got married and moved in together, and when we got our dog, to not criticize the way the other does things.  Because I think it’s pretty easy, especially for moms (or for me because I had a lot of babysitting and “kid” experience) to be hard on their husbands because they aren’t doing it the “right” way or “same” way with babies. I think it is really important to remember that there are multiple ways of dealing with every parenting task (even changing diapers!) and that the quickest way to teach your spouse that they shouldn’t do the things you are doing (and end up taking on all the work yourself) is to criticize their methods. So we have an unspoken rule here that unless someone is in danger (like confusion over buckling a car set), we can each do things for the kids our own way and it’s fine. Even if Michael doesn’t get them dressed as quickly as I would want, or I don’t prepare the very best meals for them (because that is just NOT a skill set of mine)…if they are safe, then it’s all good.  And I think it is a super important part of keeping us on the same team. We practice this rule with our parents and their caring for our kids too and we think it’s incredibly helpful for all of our relationships!  This can start long before having kids, even in the way you deal with household tasks.  This might be a whole post of mine some day because I think it’s just so important!

3). Remember that no one is going to feel 100% ready all the time to take on the commitment of having a child. I think we were really waiting, and lots of friends of ours have really tried to wait, to feel “ready”. And I DO think there is a point when you are more ready than not- but I don’t think it’s ever 100%.  Because it is such a HUGE life change (really, in my opinion, the largest you will ever have) and adjustment, and because you really can’t know exactly what it is like until you experience it, I think it’s nearly impossible to be 100%. But once you are more ready than not, and on the same page with your spouse…I think that is the time to go for it!

I hope this is helpful in making one of the biggest- and certainly most fulfilling- decisions you might make in your marriage!  Everyone’s story is different, and there are so many pieces balance out- but maybe these 3 will help you factor through yours.

PS- it is this handsome man’s birthday today!! I am beyond grateful to be doing life by his side!

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  1. Jesi says:

    You two are so cute!!!

  2. Candi says:

    All great tips! As a mom to 5 I agree! Especially #2!

  3. Yes to all three of those!! We aren’t in a place where we can have pets, but we’re anxiously awaiting when we can take the kids to pick our first one together!

  4. Amazing insight – nailed it on the head in every way with these tips! It’s so so soo important to give yourself grace, and work as a TEAM with your partner.

  5. So sweet! Great tips 🙂

  6. Great tips for couples thinking about having kids!

  7. Holly says:

    I am a parent only to my two fur babies, but I definitely think these are some great tips for upcoming parents!

  8. Misty says:

    These tips are SO good! I think that having a puppy is definitely a little glimpse of what it’s like to have a toddler!!! And you HAVE to be a team!!

  9. Joanna says:

    My theory was always 2 hands – 2 kids kids lol
    Great tips!

  10. Heather says:

    Great tips! Taking care of a sick kitty for 6 years that required him receiving 9 pills a day definitely taught us that our time wasn’t our own anymore. Hope we get to experience kiddos sometime soon!

  11. Sara O'Hara says:

    Getting a dog is such a great tip!! That was our first step, hahaha!

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I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic Aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!). 

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