Timing & Planning

How do I fit kids into my career/education plans?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fitting children into career plans. Some people have children while they’re still pursuing their education – switching from full-time to part-time to accommodate the demands of raising a child. Other people try to time childbearing with the demands of their careers – perhaps establishing some career stability or reaching a career milestone (e.g. getting tenure; making partner; being called to the bar; being promoted; being eligible for medical benefits and parental leave).

There are some important gender differences that are worth talking about here. According to Statistics Canada, women who take time out from their jobs and careers, never make up the financial ground that they lose from taking time out. They don’t catch up to their peers (male or female) who didn’t take time out to have kids. Also, research shows that the higher the level of a woman’s education and career success, the greater the likelihood that she’ll never marry or have children. Interestingly, the reverse is true for men – with higher education and greater career achievement making it more likely that a man will marry and have children.

It certainly isn’t a level playing field when it comes to paying a price for having kids – especially during the early years of intensive parenting. However, the good news is that most women who make the decision to combine motherhood with their education and careers, report that their lives are richer and in the ways that count, more balanced – because their kids keep them grounded and remind them of what is important in their lives.

That said, it may be that you decide you need to wait for a few years before having kids. If you need to delay and still want the option of having your own biological child when you’re ready – you may want to have your current fertility tested and possibly consider fertility preservation [read more here].

What is the “right” or “best” time to have a child?

There is no “right” or “best” time to have a child – it is a very personal, and highly individual decision that has a lot to do with your values and the personal circumstances of your life. It’s ideal to have kids when you feel ready, but even still, you might never feel fully ready to take on this new role and responsibility.

The most common factors that affect the timing of parenthood are:

·   whether you are currently in a relationship

·   the state and stability of your relationship

·   how you feel about your parenting potential

·   how you feel about your partner’s parenting potential

·   your financial situation

·   your emotional readiness

·   where you’re at in terms of your education and career

·   your age and current fertility status

·   your partner’s age and fertility status

·   your current housing situation

·   your available support network

Considering and weighing all of these factors can be helpful when deciding on the best time for you to have a child. It is also important to realize that these factors may have different weightings in your decision-making.

For example, you may not have the house you’d like to have, or your finances might not be as stable as you’d like them to be, or this might not be the best time in terms of your education or career to take time out to have a child. But if your fertility or your partner’s fertility has been identified as being of concern – and your doctor is recommending that if you want kids, you should start now – that information may trump all the other considerations in terms of importance. You may decide that ready or not, you’re going to start trying to have a family while you still have time. Or you may be ambivalent about having kids and decide that you aren’t willing to be rushed into parenthood. Or you may find yourself relieved, and suddenly realize that having kids isn’t something that in your heart of hearts you really want to do.

As we’ve said, this is a very individual choice. There is no time that is right for everyone. It’s about being open to the possibilities, being honest with yourself, and making whatever decision is right for you at this point in your life.