I have a cradle list—a list of things that I want to do before having another child, such as spending as much 1-1 time with my daughter while I can, and taking a couple of vacations while we only have to pay for one extra seat.
I know that I’m not the only woman with a cradle list—several of my friends have lists of their own. For my friends who haven’t yet had a kid, their lists tend to include practical things, such as accruing enough savings to take time off from work, or moving to be closer to family.
When I talk to my friends about their lists, I like to tell them that it shouldn’t just be about the obvious things like getting your finances, living situation, and career in order. A cradle list should include some of the things you dream about doing—things that can be done when you have kids, but are often harder to do.
So, with hindsight being 20/20, and the acknowledgement that there is rarely, if ever, the perfect time to have a kid, below is what I recommend being on a cradle list. Do you have a cradle list? Tell me what’s on yours!
1. Dangerous feats. Skydiving and bungee jumping just isn’t as much fun when you have to think about who would take care of your kids if things went wrong. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think my body could handle jumping out of a plane anymore. (Damn aging process.) So whatever the thrill, my advice is to get your kicks in before you are responsible for another human being’s life, and physically up for the challenge.
2. Travel, travel, and then travel some more. Especially to all the places it is better not to go with kids (e.g., backpacking through Europe, hiking, etc...) Yes, you can and will travel with kids. But overall, it’s more expensive, more complicated, and you will want places to be kid-friendly. And you really don’t want to find yourself pushing a stroller on Bourbon Street in New Orleans at 11 p.m. at night. Just because babies theoretically can go anywhere doesn’t mean they should.
3. Finish all DIY home projects, including getting everything organized and your closets cleaned out. Once that little bundle arrives, finding time, energy and motivation for home stuff is going to be hard. Not to mention you are going to need to be careful about exposing baby to any potentially harmful chemicals. And you will need the extra closet space to store baby stuff.
4. Get screened for genetic disorders. Nothing is more nerve-wracking then being pregnant and waiting to find out if you or your husband is a carrier of a genetic disorder. Do it prior to conception and save yourself some anxiety.
5. Read, sleep, go out for happy hours, and/or put in crazy hours at the office. These are all things made harder to do once you have a child.
6. Get that coveted degree.
7. Get into a workout routine. Besides all the health benefits of being in shape, the reality is finding time to work out is going to be hard once baby arrives. So my guess is that you will have a better chance if you are already in the habit versus if you are starting from scratch after baby. And while you’re at it, now is a good time to reduce your dependency on caffeine too.
8. Have a lot of nooky-nooky just for fun.
9. Spend as much time as possible hanging out with your single and/or childless friends and listening to them. Yes, you will still be friends after—but you are going to bore them to tears with stories about your kids. So make those bonds strong now and put their needs first for a while.
10. Treat yourself to a big-ticket item. Instead of spending big bucks on a baby item with a limited shelf life, treat yourself to something you have always wanted, and can enjoy for a long time. After all, chances are you are going to spend the next 18 years putting your child’s wants and needs before your own. So go ahead—get that new *dark colored* couch, big screen TV, or fabulous piece of art. The key here is just to make sure it’s something you can actually still use once baby arrives.
11. Buy the biggest bed you can get in your bedroom. My husband and I are not big people, and until my pregnancy, our queen sized bed was fine. But add into that bed a giant belly, my humungous pregnant ass, tons of pillows, and suddenly we were fighting for space. If you can, get a bigger bed, and hell, enjoy it as much as you can before baby.
12. Resolve family issues. You might not be able to solve years of dysfunction, but now is a good time to get over the fact that your sister cut off your Barbie’s hair in second grade.