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19 Things You Must Do as a Couple Before Having a Baby

A baby changes everything. And if you don’t want to regret missing out on the pre-baby fun, make sure you’ve covered this pre-baby bucket list first.

things to do before having a baby

Speak to any parent and they will probably tell you that having children is one of the most fulfilling things that they have ever done. Some may even tell you that being a parent was what they were made to do. But don’t swallow that bullshit lying down.

If anyone tells you that their biggest accomplishment was to procreate, you know that they’re fibbing to make themselves feel better. Having kids is hard work and, honestly, not for everyone.

From the way you dress, to the way you think, to the way you talk and walk, you have to be prepared to have children before actually doing it. You may have a secure job, a cushy bank account, a comfortable home, and a loving partner, but that doesn’t mean you need to have kids. However, if you have already made up your mind and are absolutely certain that you want children, by all means: go right ahead. Before you do, though, there are many things that you need to get out of the way.

Things to do before you have kids

If you haven’t already done it yet, you need to sort out your pre-baby bucket list—before time runs out. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of things to do as a couple before having kids. If you’re stuck, here are 19 things that you can start with.

#1 Envision your future with kids. Reflect on your time as a couple and think about whether you really want to change what you have. Unlike buying a new dress, children cannot be returned. Once they pop out into your world, you have to stick with them until they are ready to leave. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be absolutely sure that you both want children before having them. [Read: 11 signs both of you are truly ready to have a baby]

#2 Spend time around kids. It could be your nieces and nephews, or children of friends, but no matter who they belong to, it is important that you spend plenty of time with them. Babysitting is not the same as having your own, but at least it will give you a feel for it.

#3 Talk about kids. Be sure to talk about kids with your partner all the time. Inject them into conversations, plans for the future, and everyday life. It will give both of you the chance to envision what your lives will be like with them around.

#4 Be financially prepared. It is no secret that raising kids is very expensive. You need to plan not just for your future as a couple but for your kid’s future. Be sure that you’re financially able to welcome another member into your household before diving in. Also, open a separate savings account and regularly contribute to it. It will take a load off your shoulders when your kid is ready for college.

#5 Set long term goals. Planning for kids isn’t like planning for the weekend. It is a very important decision, and what you decide leaves no room for screw-ups. Be sure that you and your partner secure long term goals. Decide where you want to live, who will be the breadwinner, how to handle the financial stress, and so on. [Read: 17 brilliant and very effective ways to save money as a couple]

#6 Find a base. Children raised in stable households fare better than those who are not. As wonderful as it is to move around every year, it is best for your child if you provide security and routine. You and your partner need to decide where you want to raise your child before anything else.

#7 Exhaust career goals. It takes years to climb to the top of the ladder, and many people live their whole lives never doing so. Be sure that you exhaust your career goals—or at least try your best to before having kids. The last thing you want is to secretly resent your kids for trading in the title of CFO for Vomit Cleanup Master.

#8 Talk to parents. Whether it’s both sets of parents, your grandparents, friends, or even random people you run into at the park, speak to them and let them regale you with tales of starting a family. You will be surprised by how much information you can garner from just one conversation with a parent.

#9 Secure your support system. Despite what some people may tell you, it is important that you have a sound support system around you before starting a family. Supportive friends and family can help with parenting advice, babysitting, and other stress-relieving jobs. Having familiar people around will also let your children know that they are loved on all fronts, and not just by mommy and daddy.

#10 Enjoy adult-only restaurants. Michelin-starred fine dining venues are not places to bring snotty nosed kids to. Enjoy 4-hour-long dinners when you’re still child-free. Once you have a family, TGI Fridays is is likely the finest place you will get the chance to eat at—without getting the stink eye from other patrons, that is.

#11 Live together. Like having a degree, no one cares if you’re not married, because it’s just a piece of paper anyway. What matters most is experience. It is more important that you live together before even thinking of children. It’ll give you the chance to learn each other’s habits, sleeping patterns, likes, dislikes, secrets—all of which are very important before deciding to have kids together. [Read: 14 no-fail ways to make living together work before marriage]

#12 Get fit. With kids, you will have to constantly run around, endure sleepless nights, deal with weird meal times, and many other unpleasant changes. You need to be relatively fit and healthy for your body and mind to handle the stress. Ladies, let’s not forget the massive pregnancy weight that you have to deal with. It is best to slim down now to make room for the excess weight that’s bound to come.

#13 Be nomads. Having children will not give you the luxury to relocate any time you want to. Always wanted to live in Melbourne? Do it. Dreamed of living in Morocco for a year? Now is the time. Want to spend two years living in and exploring Africa? There is no better time than the present.

#14 Go adventuring. Trekking the High Atlas with the Berbers has to be traded in for trips to Disneyland with the in-laws. Traveling with children is a lot tamer—not to mention more boring—than traveling alone or with your partner. Be sure to do as much traveling as you can before having kids, because by the time they’re old enough to join you on travel adventures, you may just be too old to enjoy it.

#15 Treat yourselves silly. Let your hubby buy yet another thousand-dollar surfboard. Don’t bat an eye to your girlfriend’s Hermes Kelly bag purchase. I recommend that you treat yourselves to wonderful items and experiences before you welcome little ones into your lives, because all your money, time, energy, heart, and soul will go to them.

#16 Make love everywhere. On the kitchen counter, on the living room floor, on the guest bed, under the guest bed, you take your pick. Once you have children, sex will probably be restricted to your bedroom. Even then, good luck finding the time and energy to get it on.

#17 Be spontaneous. Once you have kids, anything to do with spontaneity will have to be shelved. Keeping your kids alive will require a strict schedule, one that you can’t stray too far from. Missing a single mealtime can cause utter devastation. Take time to be spontaneous now, before your life is ruled by schedules.

#18 Enjoy the vices, then quit. Party ‘til the break of dawn, drink ‘til you puke, enjoy an afternoon joint, or smoke a hundred packs of cigarettes in one day. Whatever it is, get it all out of your system before having kids, because once they come, you won’t have the time or energy to live young, wild, and free. Not to mention, it’s irresponsible parenting and child services could take them away. [Read: Why it takes having his child to know a man’s bad for you]

#19 Bask in romance. Enjoy quiet time together as often as you can, because once you have kids, you probably won’t have alone time together for the next 18 years. Appreciate one another and be grateful for each other’s company, because at the end of the day, your partner is going to be your one and only team member when raising happy, healthy, and kind little humans.

[Read: 10 essential things all newlyweds must know]

Determining whether you want children is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Sure, surprises happen and newfound parents simply have to roll with it. However, if you have the privilege of choosing when you’re ready, take full advantage of it and don’t waste the opportunity to think long and hard.

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Gemma Hsieh
Born in Singapore and raised in Canada to multi-racial parents, Gemma is a self-proclaimed travel and food junkie. Having traveled extensively around the world,...
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