Is there ever a right time to have children? Becoming a mum at 22

There was two reasons to delay starting a family I heard all too often before becoming a mum:

“Don’t have one too young- you have so much to do and see before you’re ready for all of that.”

“Get your career going first so you can make sure you have enough money behind you, starting a family is very expensive.”

I wanted to be at least 26 before I had kids. That was what I used to say before I had my son, Arlo. Why did I put an age on it and assume that was when I would be ready? Was it because to society, it’ more of an acceptable age? Was it because it’s the ‘norm’ to travel and then get a job after you graduate… Then settle down?

I met Arlo’s dad at university and what started off as a friendship quickly grew into a love I still feel so lucky to have. We never imagined completing our final year as parents-to-be and I always thought that we would wait for our careers to get going and have a house of our own before I ever considered getting pregnant. But after being careless with my pill we were struck with the news that I was in fact expecting, way before we could have ever imagined.

Completing my degree was still a must and for my partner. Knowing we were soon to be parents just gave us that drive to complete what we had already started. Of course it was tough, balancing pregnancy and my studies was really hard. Life was different, but somehow still exactly the same.

Where was we going to live? As we were both still living at home we knew we needed a place of our own. This was also something that we would have done in the future but knowing there would be the three of us soon just gave us that motivation to make securing a home of our own a number one priority.

Graduating, getting our careers off to start and getting our first home, were all in our plans as a couple anyway and just because I was pregnant these things didn’t suddenly take a back seat; they were full steam ahead and just knowing we was bringing another life into the world made us all the more determined to make these things happen.

As the saying goes, if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life. 

Sometimes you have to take chances and risks and just go with what life brings you. I do believe that some people’s circumstances may not be fit for bringing a child into the world. Having my son, Arlo has taught me that although on the surface it may not have been the best time to have him, if I had to go back and choose between waiting until I was 26, or becoming a mum at 22 needless to say that I’d choose becoming a mum at 22 over and over and over again.

Here are 3 things I have learnt since becoming a mum at 22

1. It’s a challenge regardless of your age 

I have realised that I would still find being a mum just as tough if I had waited a few more years. I don’t think anything can really prepare you for this journey, especially a few more years of “life experience.” Mums at 40 still ask just as many questions about parenting as I do at 22.

2. You don’t always have to take advice from older parents who have more experience 

There isn’t a rule book to parenting or a guide on how to be the perfect parent so you don’t always have to take the advice of others. Every child is different and just because someone has had more children than you or is older than you doesn’t necessarily mean that they know what’s right for your child.

3. It’s not as terrifying as you might think

I can remember being so scared of becoming a parent, especially at 22. Child birth and looking after a baby used to quite literally terrify me. Was I too young? How was I going to cope? The idea of my “maternal instinct” that people would talk about used to baffle me. But it really is true. Six months in and the majority of it has all come so natural. My advice to anyone, whatever age, is just to go with your gut and trust your instincts. You know your baby and you know what they need.

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