Here's What 9 People Say They Regret Not Doing Before Having a Child

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  • Three things people regret not doing before having a child are saving money, seeing more of the world, and learning what to expect.
  • Regret is uncomfortable, but it can be useful.

Because humans are imperfect, everyone has regrets.

If being a parent was a weather event, I suspect it would be a tornado. The warm feeling of caring for a child collides with the cold, hard truth of parental challenges and it’s the perfect storm for regret.

Recently, while falling down the deep rabbit hole that is the internet, I ran across a couple of forums. In each, people shared things they regret doing as a parent, what they wish they’d known before welcoming a little one into the world, and what they regret not doing before having a child.

It was that last regret that I found most interesting. If those of us who have children could go back in time -- before our kids were born -- what would we have done differently? Many of the comments fell into one of three categories: 

Financial preparedness 

  • Manisha, who works in media services, says that she wishes she'd saved more money before having a child. 
  • A contributor calling herself NeverCallMeFifi also says she wishes she'd saved more money. "I didn't think it was any big deal," NeverCallMeFifi wrote. "But now I really wish we had a nest egg in the bank for things like college and vacations (which we aren't taking because of three tuitions) and stuff.” 
  • Tata, a college employee from New York, wishes she'd earned more money so she could afford to stay home with her children for a few years while they were young. 
  • A user named one_great_smile advised other parents-to-be, "We managed to save about 4 months salary but we only started planning about 5 months ahead of time so you should be able to save quite a bit if you've got a year."
  • One piece of advice came from a forum member called emptycaption, "Daycare. Oh, how it bleeds you. If you're planning on sending your wee-one to daycare, please do yourself the favor and simulate the expense beforehand. Here's a suggestion: Open a savings account that you plan not to touch. Now, look at your car loan amount. If you don't have a car loan, let's pick a number like $250. Transfer that amount from your main account to this new savings account EVERY WEEK. Keep doing it week after week. This is daycare spending, and it sucks. By doing this now, you will A) Learn to live on less and B) have a funding source to help pay for daycare later on."

Not seeing more of the world

  • Kelley wrote, "Traveling. I’ve never traveled far and I would love to enjoy adult time. I was a mom when I was younger so I never got to experience much beyond community college and moving out of my parents … I love my babies to death but I never actually got to experience memories with friends or travel."
  • Another parent -- this one called maximusjackson -- wrote, "International travel. So many of the old wonders that I didn't get a chance to see before my three new wonders came to be.
  • An elementary school physical education teacher named Pattie also regrets not seeing more of the world. "As a single parent, I can not afford to travel like I could before kids. The trade off of having children was totally worth it but I became a mom very late in life (age 50) and should have taken better advantage of overseas travel while I was single and childless. It took awhile to dig out of the financial hole my ex left me in and I was saving money for an international adoption (I ended up doing domestic & saved a ton of money) but I did travel some. I wish I had traveled overseas though. Hawaii and Caribbean was the farthest I ever got."

Not knowing what to expect

Jessica, a stay-at-home mom, shared this regret: "I had children after I finished my education, paid off my student loans, and worked in my field for 4 years. Career-wise, financially, and education-wise, I have no regrets. One thing I didn’t do was spend time with friends who had kids, to learn how *hard* it is, especially the first year when you’re drowning in the chaos of severe sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, and pumping. My life changed literally overnight. I read the books, but I didn’t understand how huge of a change it would be. I suffered from PPA/PPD/PTSD from a combination of difficult circumstances in the first year postpartum, and 3 years later I’m still learning how to heal. What would I do differently? Spend quality time with friends/family with newborns or little ones to really understand what to expect."

Regret is hard to deal with, but there is a silver lining. If we're wise, we learn from our mistakes. We become more compassionate toward others when they mess up, and if we're lucky, we grow into the people we want to be.

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