Babies Before Career?

So the whole babies before career debate has been sparked up again, thanks to Kirstie Allsopp’s interview with The Telegraph.

Babies Before Career? Photo courtesy of kidspot.com

Babies Before Career? Photo courtesy of kidspot.com

In light of the whole charade, I posted a Facebook status and a Tweet asking people what they thought about the debate and to my surprise, a lot of guys gave their thoughts. Some of you may think that the whole debate has nothing to do with men but it was interesting to hear that many were in support of it being an individualistic idea.

 “I just don’t think it’s that clear cut for everybody. It’s a very individualistic idea! Depends on what kind of career a person wants and how important it is for them to have children. Personally, I have never been very “career focused” and think family is important. Having kids is an amazing thing, but only if you’re ready. So again it really depends on the individual.”

 “My partner and I currently have 2 children under the age of 4 I work full time and she’s at uni studying to be a teacher. I would definitely agree that I don’t believe it’s something you can decide on a whim. There is so many factors to consider. For instance if you’ve not met the person you wish to settle down and have kids with then you have no choice but to start a career. Then make the choice when it presents itself to you. At the same time I can see how a 40 something year old women speaking with hindsight would be the best person to get advice on the matter from!”

I think many people who know me probably think that this post would be more of a ‘feminist rant,’ because admittedly I’m not very maternal…right now. Sure I’d like kids in the future (hear that, that’s the sound of my family and friends falling over with shock) but I think it is down to an individual’s circumstances.

My parents were married and had a house at the age of 21 before they had me at 24 and my brother at 27. Sure, I’d love to be like them and I think a lot of us would like to buy in to the old-fashioned romantic notion of marrying your childhood sweetheart but this is 2014 and it doesn’t happen like that anymore.

I think Kirstie is highly presumptuous that most of us will ‘find a nice chap’ to settle down with in our late teens/early twenties. As many of us know, it’s hard to get out of the whole ‘Are we or aren’t we in a relationship?’ conundrum, let alone persuade them to put a ring on it. And to be honest, a lot of women want a stable relationship before procreating with any Tom, Dick or Harry AND with more people taking the university route in this day and age, having children later in life is all too common.

Having a career before babies can mean a foot on the ladder so that you can save up for a house or have a bit more financial stability. Graduates do tend to earn more money in the long-run as well. Of course, there’s always the theory that your twenties are for “finding yourself,” or travelling and with a baby in tow, that’s not always easy. At this moment in time, my stance is I would want to feel stable in my job, in my relationship and have a place to live before having children. Again, what works for some doesn’t work for others.

In support of Kirstie’s stance though; of course you can have a career after having children. My own Mum chose to have children first and has worked her way up the ladder and is even doing an Open University course in her spare time to better her career further. The upside is that my brother and I are in our twenties working and there’s no need for her to worry about childcare etc. There are so many opportunities for parents now to work from home, work part-time or in the industry that I work in, freelance while on maternity leave to keep yourself ticking over. The downside is that many laws that surround maternity leave are in serious need of updating and I agree that companies should be more flexible in terms of helping women combine their workload with motherhood.

As one of my friends commented on Facebook: “I am certainly glad I had my children before I am 30, so I can run and play etc. But it has left me unable to do work experience because we can’t afford the childcare it would cost for me to do free work, which of course makes it very hard to find a job in the industry I would like to be in.”

Kirstie also has a point in terms of bearing the ol’ biological clock in mind. Research has shown that your fertility starts to dip from the age of 25 (how depressing) with conception being more difficult for women aged 35+. Before you start winking at your other half, again its down to an individual circumstances, you don’t know until you start trying and for all you know, you may be as ripe as a tomato until you’re in your early 40s.

Another of my friends added: “As a woman over 40 who wanted to do well in good job and had a baby late I can say career is less tiring and in some ways easier than motherhood, however much you want it. Kirstie was right on this point: Nature is not a feminist. It is a lot harder to get pregnant over 35.

” But it is nonsense for anyone to suggest there is that much choice: you can be broody at 19 but what happens if you don’t meet the right bloke/don’t feel ready for parenthood?”

Exactly.

As women we put each other and ourselves under enormous amounts of pressure to do this, do that. Instead of digging our claws into each other, show support for each other’s choices in life.

Social media also has a lot to answer to, in terms of everyone obsessing over what everyone else is doing. “Everyone’s getting married and having babies, what do I have?!” You, my friend, have a kick-arse job and are having fun finding ‘Mr Right.’

So, to end my little spiel, do whatever you damn well please, when you want and when it’s right for you.

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