10 Things You Must Do Before You Have Children

There are things you owe it to yourself, not to mention to your marriage, to do before you have children.

Ready or Not? Five Signs You’re Prepared to Be a Parent

While the "we’re ready!" moment differs for every couple, there are a few things to keep in mind when deciding when to take the plunge.

1. You’re both eager. It’s not a good idea to drag your spouse kicking and screaming into parenthood. If either of you has major reservations, wait.

2. You want kids for the "right" reasons. Your mother-in-law has been knitting baby blankets since the wedding. All your friends are having kids. Or perhaps your biological clock is ticking loudly. Resist outside pressure to have children—the desire should come from within.

3. Your relationship is secure. It’s one thing if you and your husband fight with only your cat as a spectator. It’s quite another if you’re constantly arguing within earshot of young children. If you are not in a loving, mature marriage, then work toward improving it before adding children to the mix.

4. You’ve discussed child care. The time to figure out who will stay home with a newborn should not be made on your way to the hospital. Agree on a general game plan before you’re under the pressure of an impending birth.

5. You’re ready to play second fiddle. Having a child forces you to put someone else’s needs before your own. That selflessness can be deeply fulfilling, but it requires maturity. Take a good hard look within before you make the lifelong commitment to raise children.