Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Deciding to Be Childfree: 24 Reasons for My Choice (Part 1)

ChoicesWhile I never specifically wanted to have children, I used to assume I would eventually. When exes brought up kids and I balked, I figured it wasn’t the right time or they weren’t the right one. When I got married and my husband would talk about kids in the future, I figured I would eventually come around. Then he decided that he didn’t want kids. Since kids are not something you can compromise on, I needed to decide whether I just didn’t want kids at that time or didn’t want them ever.

I decided to make two lists, one with reasons not to have children and one with reasons to have children. Shortly, I had come up with a couple dozen reasons to be childfree. I could not come up with one single reason to have children. Oh, I know there are reasons, but there were none that I have heard from people that were compelling enough to me for me to put them down for myself. To this day, while I could add more to the list of reasons to be childfree, the list for having children is blank. I think, regardless of anything on the pro childfree list, the fact I don’t have reasons to have children is the biggest reason of all not to.

Over the next couple days, I’ll share my reasons for deciding to be childfree in the order I thought of them (not necessarily the order of importance). Since I wrote this over a year ago, rather than just list them as I wrote them, I’ve added a few present-day thoughts as well. Today I’ll share the first 12 reasons (although some could really be called multiple reasons wrapped up under one heading), and I’ll share the other 12 next time.

money and savings1. Money
Kids are expensive. Right now I have a car loan and a student loan, and we’re working on building our savings. But even allowing a few years to build the expense of children into our budget, it’s not smart financially. I’ve read that a kid costs $250,000 to $500,000 raise. I saw a video the other day that says $1.1 million! Even going by the lowest estimate, that’s about $13890 a year. I know people who pay almost as much just on daycare. And that doesn’t take into account if a parent helps with or pays for college. It’s feasible to get that money, eventually, but it would be better for my current situation and future plans to save that money.

2. I’m possessive of my independence
I prefer that phrase to the word “selfish”. But whatever you want to call it, I like to be in control of my own time outside of work and what I do with it. I like that I can stay up late and sleep in sometimes. I like that I can make breakfast if I want to, but I don’t “have” to. There’s little I’m obligated to do, and that’s nice. That would not be the case with a kid. While there is little I do or want to that a kid couldn’t be around for, it’s easier not to have to plan around them. With a child, trips and activities my husband and I want to do would have to include the expensive of bringing a child or babysitting. Once kids are school-aged, unless they’re home schooled you also have their schedule to work around (and if they are home-schooled, then you have to be home for that). Planning around one or two jobs is hard enough without worrying about other people’s schedules.

3. My patience is finite
I could be patient with kids 8 hours a day at work, but I’m not sure I would have had it for them if I had children at home, or I would have had patience for kids at work but my own children would have suffered. And I am sure staying home instead would drive me bat scat crazy. It drove me crazy enough listening to the lady across the hall screaming at her kid in the morning. I don’t want it to be me or come home to it either. My dogs test my patience enough as it is…yapping, fighting, keeping me awake when I want to sleep, making messes in the most inconvenient times and places. If they drive me bonkers, I imagine a kid can do worse, and…

I didn't take a picture of my favorite color on the 10th, but I like red in many different shades, so here's a picture of Apollo laying on my maroon pillow hogging two dog toys.

You two go have fun. I’ll be fine here with my toys and a comfy pillow.

4. Dogs can stay home alone
If we leave home for awhile, we don’t have to find a babysitter. Not so for a kid. If we go somewhere for an extended period of time without the dogs, it costs about $30 a day to have a dog kenneled. Finding someone suitable to watch a kid is harder, especially for a long time or at a moment’s notice. Even when we can’t find someone to take our dogs, we’ve been able to have someone stop by just to clean up after them, take them for walks, and feed them for a night or two. We can’t do that with a kid.

5. Travel
While having kids doesn’t exclude one from traveling, it does make it harder and more expensive. Plus, the money we save that’s not going to kids can go toward us seeing places we wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to.

6. Hobbies
I like to read, write, travel, and pick up various hobbies. I want to have the time to fully explore my life, not devote it to making sure someone else can have one. My hobbies aren’t very expensive at the moment, but I’ve had expensive ones before and likely will again and some of my husband’s hobbies aren’t exactly cheap. While I still nickle and dime and put off buying things when it’s better to put the money toward something else, not having kids means there are more opportunities to explore things life has to offer that happen to cost money.

Time7. Time
There are only 24 hours in each day, and if I’m not going to be a cranky pants, I need at least 6 to 7 of those to go to sleep. If we had kids, they would get time first and I would get what’s left around their schedules and needs. If I wanted to work and have kids (which I would because, as I mentioned above, being home all the time would make me crazy), I would have even less time. But if we don’t have kids, all the time outside of work belongs to me and my husband and we can divide it amongst ourselves and our interests. And I know I will (usually) get enough sleep.

8. Work
I like to work. I would not like to have daycare raise my kids. But if I had kids, I would have to pick one or the other. Even when I keep busy, I miss having a job when I’m unemployed. I like having my own money coming in and feeling more productive. While I’d be busier as a stay at home mom than as a housewife, I don’t know that I’d be more fulfilled. I want to do more than I have, not less. Raising a kid is something anyone can do and it’s great when people do it well, but it’s not all I was made to do. I’ve sacrificed being able to work more than I’d planned already just due to military moves, so not having kids means I won’t have to sacrifice more.

9. My sleep schedule
I like to stay up late and sleep in when I can. I’m more of a 2nd shift to 3rd shift person than a morning person, and most of my jobs have been in line with that. Even when I’ve had to suck it up and get up early for work, I’ve been glad that I could get up with just enough time to get myself ready rather than having to get up earlier to get kids up and ready for school or daycare. If I still worked 2nd or 3rd shift with kids, that would also mean I’d have to find an after hours sitter if my husband was deployed or in the field, and that goes back to money.

Bad kid10. Other people’s kids.
While there are a handful of my friends’ kids and another a handful of kids I had the pleasure to be around at the daycare who make me think having children could be a pleasure, there are just as many if not more who are little terrors. And sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter what the parents’ parenting styles are. One parent could have a well behaved kid and then have a monster and not have done anything differently…luck of the draw, and I don’t like the odds. Spending time around other people’s badly behaved kids and then working a year in a daycare was even more incentive not to have my own.

11. Saving ourselves from stress
While our marriage is going to be stressful at times, it would be moreso with a child in the mix. Without a child, we’ll save ourselves a lot of stress by only having two people to worry about.

12. The choices I don’t have to make
This world is crazy and seems to get crazier. There are so many things kids need to be protected from. There are also a number of choices, daily, for years that have to be made. Without kids I don’t have to choose what foods the child should consume, decide whether to raise them in a certain religion (or not), make decisions about their medical care, choose if they’ll go to public school, private school, or be home schooled (or deal with all the stresses that go along with any of those choices). I don’t have to worry who they’ll be with or what they’re doing (and I won’t have to pay the price if they screw up in spite of my guidance). There’s a world of stuff I’ll never need to worry about if I don’t have a kid, and I like it that way.

Next time, I’ll share another 12 reasons for me to remain childfree. If you are childfree and want to share your own list, feel free to do so in the comments.

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19 Thoughts on “Deciding to Be Childfree: 24 Reasons for My Choice (Part 1)

  1. Geeezzzus. Negative much?!

    • Everyone’s entitled to their own perceptions. Personally I see this list as more positive than negative in that it highlights the positives for me in remaining childfree.

  2. Hi Amanda, I found you through the BBN and I’m so glad I did!
    I love your post, don’t worry about the negative comment. It is SO brave of you to openly talk about it and take a stand, I really admire you!
    It should be the most normal decision in the world: Yes or no to having kids. But for whatever reason, people will judge women (quite harshly) when they say they don’t want to have kids of their own. I haven’t quite figured out why. Do they think we judge their decision to have them? We most decidedly do not!
    Are they secretly envious? I don’t know.
    I wrestled with this decision for years, and just recently came to the same conclusion. Your introduction resonated deeply with me: “While I never specifically wanted to have children, I used to assume I would eventually.” Me, too!
    My husband has 4 daughters from his previous marriage, and I love them with all my heart. For a long time I assumed that we would have one more together.
    But – I don’t really want to. So we decided not to. But it is not a popular choice for sure. People are bewildered, assuming something is wrong.
    Finding your blog and getting your perspective on the subject are wonderful! So reassuring. Thank you!!

    Miriam

    P.S. I’m born and raised German, living in BC Canada for the last 10 years 🙂

    • Thank you, Miriam. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m not sure why people are judgmental. It’s not just limited to people who don’t want children though. I have friends who have one kid who get pestered about having another and friends with four kids who get told they should stop. People are going to judge no matter what ya do…all the more reason to just do what you feel is right for you and not what other people think you should. I’m glad you were able to come to the right decision for yourself. You’re welcome, and thank you for commenting.

      How do you like Canada?

  3. I’m 100 percent pro child but I completely think its very brave to decide not to have them! Its a great list! Almost makes me want to not have them! I currently have fertility issues and may never get my own child and this list kind of helps with that thought process! Good post!

  4. That’s really interesting and I can totally understand all your reasons. I haven’t made my decision yet but I am also a very independent person (not selfish! :)). We will see.

  5. HannahWe on August 4, 2013 at 10:00 am said:

    Brave decision and good reasons not to have kids!
    I hope you will never have to show people your list to justify your decision – you should not have to explain. Having children is such a life changing thing, and to be frank, a lot of people just wouldn’t make good parents.
    I am glad that people have the guts to say “I just don’t want to” instead of bringing children into this world because society tells them to, and then blame the kids for not being able to lead the life they really would want to, or raise them badly and therefore put little terrors into this world.

    Like you wrote, the decision not to have children has nothing to do with not liking children. My aunt has been a kindergarden teacher for 30 years, and she loves what she does and the kids, and does a great job, but she never wanted to have kids herself.
    She was attacked so badly for her decision (especially by parents of her kindergarden kids) that she eventually started to tell people she couldn’t have children because of fertility issues, and all of a sudden people were so much nicer and very understanding. How sad, that the decision of a woma not to have children has to be made by nature or god or whomever, to be acceptable.

    I personally want to have children, I never had to make a list, I can just feel it, just like you can feel that you don’t want them.
    Good luck with your decision, like you said, people will judge you no matter what you do – so you might as well do what feels right for you!

    • Thank you. You’re right that feeling I don’t want them is no different than feeling you do, and neither of us should have to justify it. While I don’t mind talking about it in a blog post for example or with people who genuinely are curious about my decision, I do mind when people seem to be demanding an explanation. That is unfortunate that your aunt felt she had to start lying because people couldn’t accept the truth. I agree with you that it’s sad that people accept it if it’s seen as caused by nature or god, but not if it’s a woman’s choice. I worked in a daycare for a year, and only a few parents asked me whether I had kids and fewer followed up asking if I wanted to have any. Fortunately the ones who knew I wanted none were all supportive about it. Interestingly enough, it was some of my coworkers who thought I needed to change my mind and would keep bringing it up. Thanks 🙂

  6. Amber on August 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm said:

    I like your thoughts on this subject, my husband and I have always said we would not have children and are very happy with that decision. I just get so fed up with having to explain myself to other and even virtual strangers as to why I am not having children…Ppfft, so annoying, I do not question people on their choice to have children, so why is it OK to question me? My husband does not get questioned, just me. Be happy and make the right choices for your life, is all we can do. happy Sunday honey.

    • Thank you. If you’re happy with your decision, that’s all that matters. I understand being annoyed. I don’t know why people feel it’s okay to question people about not having children, especially if they’re virtual strangers. I wouldn’t mind if it was just inquisitive, but most of the time it’s accusatory, and that’s annoying. My husband actually does get questions too sometimes, but I wonder how much of that is because it’s rare to encounter married enlisted soldiers who don’t have kids or at least want them someday. If he had a corporate job, I would be surprised if people aside from family and friends ever asked about it. Happy Sunday to you also (or I guess I should say Monday by now).

  7. Pingback: Rare finds and good reasons. | Life Unconventional

  8. I think it’s interesting you decided to make that list. I’ve never thought about doing it but perhaps some parents would have been better off thinking about it twice instead of having children, divorcing, and then leading an unhappy life. That being said, having kids can be more of an intuitive choice than a rational one.
    I am not the type of person to decide in advance whether or not I want to have offspring but I am not at a point in my life where I necessarily want to deal with children, either.
    Your first point is what you will see throughout the NYC subway occasionally, as posters indicate (quite in a racially defining way) how much a child really costs. The ads are aimed towards high school dropouts or young mothers/fathers who have kind of, well, decided to pursue a financially harder future by being pregnant at young age instead of waiting ten years. While I was first taken aback by these ads, they have a good point. Not sure teenager will see it the same way, though.

    I totally agree with point 10: Living in “babytown” of Brooklyn (aka Park Slope) I’ve really come to despise other people’s brats and am rather annoyed when another kiddo runs into me without saying excuse me or throws a fit. Some parents just don’t get that I won’t excuse myself but rather shoot them a dirty look. Hey, if you can’t raise your kids right… dont bring ’em out into public!
    And 12 is true as well. A lot of freedom can be taken away from a parent/parents.

    • I hadn’t until I decided to, but I’m glad I did as it does help to know that I have made a conscious choice rather than just going along with the flow (and if I had made the other choice, at least that would have been an informed one too). I agree that some might have been better to think about it ahead of time and that it can be an intuitive choice for some as well. I don’t think it’s necessarily essential to decide in advance especially since people may change their minds one way or the other, but I do think it’s probably a good idea to have a general idea whether it’s an option or not.

      I’m not sure if teenagers will pay attention, especially those that tend not to be long-range planners, but it is a reality they need to consider if they’re going to have kids. I was reading an article recently where a girl and boy had gone in to a counselor to talk about their options regarding a pregnancy. She and her boyfriend decided to get an abortion. Then they filed a suit against the counselor saying, among other things they’d felt pressured to get an abortion because the counselor had asked questions like how they’d care for the baby and where they would take it…um hello those are legit questions for an underage couple to consider. Fortunately the trial court concluded that the school officials didn’t coerce them. Here’s the whole story if you’re interested: http://www.ascaschoolcounselor.org/article_content.asp?edition=91&section=140&article=752

      You shouldn’t have to excuse yourself it they ran into you. I used to joke that if I needed a reminder why I don’t want kids I’ll go to the PX or commissary. There always seems to be at least one banshee running around. But now all I have to do is open a window. Our new apartment overlooks a playground and there are always kids out there. I wouldn’t mind if they played nicely but they tend to screech and fight with each other. Sad thing is, I walked by there the other day and saw the sign says something like for ages 3-5 and children should be supervised at all times…so a) what is it almost always older kids out there b) why do I hardly ever see parents? As much as I don’t want it to start getting cold I kind of like that it’s getting darker earlier because it means they go inside earlier 😛

  9. Lol… It was humorous reading this piece. I felt EXACTLY the same way you now do… until I had kids. My husband said he wasn’t fertile (oops). Having kids changes everything you think about kids. But, it’s like losing your virginity. We parents can’t describe it to you. You won’t be changed until it happens. You will be different after it does. Your article is a bit like a virgin what it’s like as a non-virgin… But thanks! A good read and I appreciated the blast to the past for me. 🙂

    • Although I am sure people’s thoughts change in many, maybe even most, cases (and it’s probably best for your and your children’s sakes that they did in yours), not everybody does change what they think. I have had parents admit they wish they had stuck with not having kids/wouldn’t have them if they could do it over, etc.. But if I won’t be changed “until it happens” then I guess I don’t have to worry about it because I’m actively preventing it from happening with an IUD and would permanently prevent it from happening with sterilization if I could get approved for the procedure.

      I suppose the virgin writing on being a non-virgin analogy works if you’re talking about a virgin deciding whether she should have sex. She can only decide to remain a virgin while she lacks the experience of sex and thus can only make a decision based on the experiences and consequences she’s observed or learned about from others. If she makes a choice to have sex, she can’t go backwards if it turned out that the right choice for her was to remain a virgin.

      Likewise, I weighed whether to have kids or remain childfree, which is something I can only decide while I lack the experience of having children. Based on the experiences and consequences I’ve observed and learned about from others, as well as what I have observed and experienced myself as a caregiver for various ages from infants to Kindergartners, I’ve gotten about as much information and experience regarding having kids as I can without having them myself to decide that I don’t want to have them. If I have a kid and am right that I should be childfree well, then it will be too late as that choice would no longer be an option, so if I’m going to make that choice, this is the only way I can do it 🙂

      Anyhow, I am glad you connected with the article and thank you for saying that it was a good read. You’re welcome for the ‘blast from the past’ 😉

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