Life doesn't always turn out as planned. Maybe you didn't envision your life getting hitched and having kids long before 30, but hey, sometimes sh*t happens. You fall in love, you get pregnant, both happen, or one or the other. Regardless, you are in the club of starting a family young. It's a unique club, that's especially true today, as many twentysomethings are waiting longer than ever to settle down in any official way.
You're either in one of two groups. Group one is straight-up freaked out by all their friends getting engaged and pregnant and cannot decide if they're going to 'like' the engagement announcement on Facebook or not because it's just too weird. If that isn't you then you're probably the friend settling down, or at least trying to get there soon. Let me tell you something — while young marriages on shows like One Tree Hill and even Gossip Girl make starting a family before you turn 25 look like real-life version of a fairy tale — there are so many challenges to be had and a lot of changes coming your way.
That's not to say you shouldn't do go for it or that you won't be happy if you do, but it's best to make a fully informed decision. Not just one based on the on-screen portrayal of these decisions as wholly romantic and unproblematic.
Take my word for it. As an unexpected parent at the age of 23, I learned a lot and will pass along some of the things I wish I had known starting my journey to true "adulting." Because it's hard and we all could use some guidance (And humor because without humor — parents and marriage would never survive).
But are we ever ready for anything? Getting married is fun, but the reality of sharing a life with someone is far from a fairytale. It's little arguments, getting used to strange habits and being with someone all. the. damn. time. I haven't been alone for more than two hours in five years. For real.
Having kids is slightly more terrifying, as it should be. You won't feel prepared but you just accept things as they unfold. Your parents weren't ready either, but here are all nice and adjusted. You'll figure it out.
That said, there's a difference between ~not feeling ready~ and knowing deep down that you are. Obviously, you should never do anything you know you aren't ready for. So separating the "feeling ready" and "knowing you're ready" are two very different things because you can know you're ready to take a step even if you don't feel like you are, and vice-versa. So do some serious soul-searching before making any big decisions about marriage and children, cause these are ones you can't back down from.
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If you get married or have children young (and quite possibly at any age), there will be at least one moment (if not more) where you think you may have made the biggest mistake of your life. It'll happen on a bad day when you're tired. It'll happen more likely and possibly more often if you started your family by accident. And in those low moments when you feel like your life is going nowhere and you've thrown away your freedom, it'll hit you like a ton of bricks.
It's perfectly okay and normal to think that — but if those thoughts begin to overwhelm you, it never hurts to talk to someone else who's been there (your mom, perhaps?) or even a professional. Let's face it — single, taken, married with kids or 'it's complicated,' we should all probably be in therapy.
Starting a family young is a HUGE lifestyle change and you'll realize it can separate you from some of your friends who aren't there yet. While you're planning meals and getting up early taking care of kids, your friends are still partying, brunching and living a carefree lifestyle. Those two ways of living don't quite complement one another.
So you won't see those friends as much anymore. It's unfortunate and it sucks, but that's life. Your friends will be where you are someday and get why you kind of went MIA. Until then, see them when you can and be patient when you don't fully fit in or relate to what they're talking about. It doesn't mean the love isn't there anymore,
it just means you guys are on completely different paths at the moment and that's okay.
You have to be real chill to start a family. And if you're not, you need to become really chill. If that doesn't come naturally then you'll have to work on it. It's hard being with little kids all day especially when they start to talk, have opinions, and do whatever they want to do.
Not to mention, your relationship changes immensely when you ~start a life~ with someone else. Little things your partner does will annoy you when you're around each other 24/7. But since the things getting on your nerves really are little things, you just have to deal and let it go. Patience is truly a virtue... and super hard to obtain.
If you do end up losing your patience, you'll feel like a jerk. Three-year-olds can really suck, but they don't know why you're getting upset at them. So when you lose your temper and truly didn't know you had it in you to yell at a child, that's a really sh*tty feeling.
Take a deep breath, apologize, and move on. Learn to walk away when you need to.
Even when you lose your temper — it's true what they say. You'll love your child more than anything else you've ever loved in this world. Even more than your significant other because it's an indescribable love when you birthed someone are literally responsible for their every need. You'll see one day but don't rush it if you're not there yet.
When you go from living with roommates to living with one person and a child, you'll get lonely. Especially if you're the one staying home with that child. It takes getting used to and you'll feel very isolated, alone, and sometimes even depressed. Thus, it's super important to get out of the house even if it's just to go to the store or take a walk around the block after your bae gets home. Perpetuate the stay-at-home-parent stereotype by roaming Target for hours with your kid in a stroller. It'll be worth your sanity... and who's ever had a bad time at Target? NOBODY.
You're used to being friends with people you go to school with. So all of these friends are your age and what you have in common are age and lifestyle. When you start a family young, you tend to be friends with other families. More specifically other families that have kids your kids' ages. Chances are these other parents will be older than you. Some may even be 15 or more years older if there aren't a lot of young parents in your neighborhood, but these are now your peers. It's weird at first being friends with someone who remembers when the first President Bush was elected but you'll get used to it. Plus, you'll realize that age truly is just a number.
Getting married, then having kids is hands down the hardest thing you'll ever do. And you can't just quit when you've had enough. It's not like switching majors or giving two week's notice at work. Most people know well enough that quitting on your kids makes you a jerk, but quitting on your marriage will be tempting at times — but all partnerships take work and even the best ones have low points.
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You're going to be okay with it when you can't go to the salon as much or buy new clothes the way you used to. Why? Because the baby always needs something like food or diapers and tbh, you're happy to make sure they have it. Or you simply don't have the time and don't even realize you haven't bought a new shirt in two and a half years. But as a good parent and family woman, you'll always put yourself last. If you've got a good partner, they'll do the same so it'll even out and you'll be able to keep an eye out for each other.
The struggle is real. Late nights up with a baby cannot even begin to compare to late nights out with friends. Because at least your child-free self could nap for hours the next day, spend the whole day in bed watching TV and get a good night's sleep not too long after. Kiss all that sacred rest good bye!
At one point (or more than a few points), you'll be so tired you think you may die. For real. It's awful. But somehow, you survive and your kid starts sleeping all night and you remember just why sleep is the single greatest gift a human has ever received.
Then, once they get old enough to start having nightmares and separation anxiety, you'll be back to the all-nighters. It's all a cycle of sh*tty sleep. But they're guaranteed to sleep a lot as teenagers so hang in there.
Both Halloween and Christmas lost their magic years ago. Halloweens became just a night to get drunk and holidays became miserable family gatherings with people who you didn't care to see at all. BUT, the magic of those holidays returns when you get to recreate your fantastic holiday memories with your little one.
It's super cool for you and your partner to go all out with decorations for the kids and getting them that toy they've been begging for all year always brings a pretty amazing response. These moments make all the other stuff SO worth it.
Is your child alive? Are they happy? Then you're doing great. When it happens, having your family will come more naturally than you ever expected. Which is a really good thing. If it was super confusing, the population wouldn't be growing so much. Common sense truly goes a long way in this aspect.
Also, Google. Google is your new best friend.
Ugh, if you aren't willing to give up part of yourself, DO NOT start a family. You'll give up any free time, sanity, and some of your hopes and dreams... at least for the first few years. I've also got to admit that your body will never be the same. It can still be great, but never the same pre-babies.
Sacrifice is a huge part of marriage and children that takes a certain level of maturity. Take time for yourself whenever you can.
How can you not? Their single life seems like endless girls' nights, naps, and on-the-whim vacations to amazing places. It's totally hard to see your friends have so much freedom. But you have so much... life experience? Instagram just might become your worst enemy.
Seriously though, when you have a loving partner who supports you and a kid that idolizes you, all the free time you don't have isn't exactly missed. At least that's what us young parents tell ourselves.
We all like to think we know what we're doing, but no one really does and when you're 24, married and/or pregnant that reality becomes clear as day. The learning literally never ends and you're basically going into every day and every moment completely blind.
The world wouldn't have progressed at all if we knew all there was to know by age 21. Tbh, life would also be a lot less exciting if we didn't make so many silly mistakes. So yes, you don't know sh*t — and don't act like you do.
All we hope for growing up is a fairytale ending. But sadly, that isn't always the case. Your marriage may not work out. People change and grow apart. One person may simply stop caring or miss their freedom. As horrible as that is, time and life will keep marching on. If you start a family young, you expect it to last forever. But sometimes that's not the case. You'll survive and be a stronger person for it all.
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