The first few years of marriage have flown by in a whirl of joy, sorrow, laughter, tears, surprises, arguments, and forgiveness, all interlaced with love. As my husband and I approach our fourth anniversary, we remain childless, and this state of life is right for us at the moment.
I am not here to tell you when is the right time to have children. It is different for every couple. And many times, God will bless a couple with a baby years before they planned. But if you, like me, find yourself married without that precious little bundle balanced on your hip, there are several (fun!) things you should be doing before your family of two becomes three.
1. Spend (a little) money on something for yourself.
Yes, you need to keep a budget. Yes, you need to be sure to give to the church. Yes, saving money for the future is important. But you can spend some of your money on things that you both enjoy.
My husband and I spend a significant chunk of our money on home improvement projects. He likes it because it adds value to our “investment,” and I like it because the result is always aesthetically appealing. As a bonus, we do a lot of the work ourselves which means we are spending time together doing something we both enjoy.
Find something that you and your spouse can do together. Is it travelling? Running races? DIY-ing? Try different activities until you find the one that fits you both. No, subscribing to Netflix doesn’t count.
2. Pursue personal hobbies.
Your precious future babies are going to take your time. You’ll surely adore every second spent cuddling your perfect little angel, but you might miss reading/going to the gym/scrapbooking, etc. when he just won’t stop crying.
So do it now. Go to the library and check out every book that captures your attention. Get active with walks, runs, bike rides, or dance classes. Scrapbook all the precious moments you and your spouse have experienced until this point. The possibilities are literally endless. Just don’t make excuses to waste the unencumbered time you have now.
3. Spend plenty of time with friends.
Again, we’re talking about making the most of your time. Enough of my friends have darling babies that I know missing out on time with friends is a part of the life stage. Babies have feeding schedules (or not if you prefer), nap times, bed times, and sometimes just get cranky. When your life revolves around a tiny human, time spent with full-grown humans is limited.
You’re going to find yourself repeating this sentence: “I can’t go to dinner/yoga/the party/whatever; I don’t have a babysitter.” And that’s okay. Your friends will understand. Chances are they will love your little guy almost as much as you do. But enjoy making memories with them now. They’ll make great stories to tell your kids one day.
4. Enjoy the privacy.
If there’s one thing I’ve heard about toddlers, it’s that they follow you everywhere. Most notably, to the bathroom. I don’t know why that is; I guess they just love you so much that they won’t leave you alone. This is truly a sweet concept, but I have a feeling that when it comes down to it, I’m going to wish I had some privacy when I have a two-year-old toddling after me all day long.
But you have it now so appreciate it. You and your spouse can spend time alone without interruption. What a blessing! These are the only years you will have alone together until your children grow up and leave the nest. Spending them in growth together is the best thing you can do for your marriage and your future family.
5. Take advantage of all your city has to offer.
Date nights are hard to come by in the first few months (and years!) of having a child. So in addition to just going to out to dinner, live like you’re a tourist in your own town. Explore new parks and natural areas, and try out new activities like paddleboarding or rock climbing. Does your area have museums or historic buildings? Tour them. Learn about your city’s history. Go to festivals, and try unique foods.
After four years in my own city, there is so much more that I need to see. Make a list of places to visit and get started. One day, you’ll be able to show a precious little life these same sights.
6. Serve in your church and in your community.
Your church is likely full of families with kids of all ages. These families are coordinating schedules for three, four, five, six (or more!) people. You only have to coordinate schedules for two. With fewer responsibilities (you don’t have to deal with school functions and homework!), this is a time when you can be a blessing to your church and your community. Find a place to volunteer.
If you love kids, serve in the church nursery. The parents will be grateful to have an hour to worship themselves (they’ll probably tell you so) and you get the privilege of playing with sweet kids with none of the parenting responsibilities. But if that’s not for you, search out your niche. You can be a blessing to others while you’re waiting to be blessed yourself.
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap.
Publication date: June 2, 2016