Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Children. Sooner or later?:

When is the 'best' time to have children? Kate says as early as possible.
By Kate Mills
Date: November 29 2013
Tags: baby, parenting,
Editor Rating:

I met up with one of my best and oldest friends last week in New York - it was lots of fun to be there without husbands and children but it wasn't all shopping and chardonnays - we also had an illuminating conversation about children and our joint wish that we had started our families earlier.

We've known each other for nearly 30 years and are both 40 with two children each. We're career women with supportive husbands who wanted to be able to combine work with family.

We both would like to have a third child but feel like we are too old. Now I know that 40 is not literally too old to have children and lots of people do it - but what we mean is that having been through the tumult of two young children each with all the strain that puts on your career and your marriage, we feel we have left it too late to have a third child.

I constantly tell young women in their late twenties/early 30s with a stable partner to have their children as soon as possible. Not everyone agrees with this - I've spoken to lots of women who say the opposite, who say establish your career and then take time off to have children.

This is my view. Work doesn't go away.

I mean you may have years while you don't work at full steam because of family commitments but the world of work isn't going anywhere. Your late 20s/30s may seem so busy career wise that it seems impossible to take a break, but I'm 40 and my career is more exciting and demanding than ever - and I just can't see that slowing down.

I met my partner in my early 20s and we were married by the time I was 30. He wanted to start a family straight away and I resisted because we'd just moved to a new country and I wanted to establish my career. It chafes me to admit that he was right.

In my case putting off starting a family for few years meant I ran into fertility problems and it took me two years to get pregnant with my first child. In my friend's case in between her first and second child she had a couple of miscarriages which mean that now she's 40 with a six-month old baby which is not the way that she envisaged it.

All across the developed world the age when people have their first child is rising, in Australia is now 31. Lots of people start in their 30s and imagine that they will have 3 or 4 children, no-one tells you that circumstance - infertility, miscarriages, economics and other events - mean that you can't expect your planned family to always go to plan.

The best bet is to start earlier, keep one foot in the work market and have as much time on your side as possible.

* * *


Kate Mills is a business journalist turned passionate diversity advocate. After 20 years in the mainstream media Kate set up where mothers can sign up to be contacted for family friendly work opportunities.

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