While 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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
10. 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.