Right after you have a baby, you usually get asked a million questions. Will you go back to work? If you do go back, when will you go back? Will you put the baby in their own room right away or will they be in yours for a while? Are you going to have another baby? If so when? Do you want a lot of kids? Are you going to move to a better school district? Have you considered homeschooling? How long will you breastfeed? Cloth diapers? Will you let them watch TV before they turn two? How will you discipline them?
These questions are a) annoying and b) unknowable. They are also usually followed up by the person giving you their opinion on your answer, because you probably have no idea how to answer.
The good news is you don’t have to. If you are fortunate enough to have a job with flexible maternity leave, you can mention that, or say when you have to be back, but for most of the questions that you will be asked, you will probably not know an answer or your answer will change a few months later.
We thought we wanted more kids before our son was born, but right after he was born and up until about two years old, the idea of “one and done” sounded really good. Those first years are hard. It’s okay to not have an answer or have an answer that changes. Some friends decided to try again quickly after their first one, others decided they were done, others, like us, came around to the idea again after a couple of years.
All of that is okay. You don’t have to decide now (though you might want to take some precautions if you aren’t sure yet). You don’t have to decide for a while. Give yourself the time you and your family needs to adjust and then decide. You’ll be a better parent for it.
If you have a job that gives you time to decide whether or not to go back right away and you can afford it, take some time to decide. I went back to the university part time when our son was 12 weeks – but I was ready to do something again to feel a bit more like me. For many people that may be too early. If it is for you and you can take your time, do it and it will become more clear in time.
For most of the questions that people ask right away, the answers will come in time. You’ll see who you are as a parent and you’ll learn who your baby is in time. Their personalities will develop and their temperament and interests will become obvious. You’ll figure out what works best for you.
Don’t rush to figure out the answers. At 18 months, we discovered that our son was lonely and benefited a lot from social interactions with other kids. So I went back to full time teaching and he went to daycare/preschool. It was what worked for us because we saw that he needed to be around other kids.
Other kids may be fine without that. Much of parenting is figuring out what works best for you and your family in your situation. That is going to look different for everyone don’t feel bad if it takes you some time to figure it out. Some things may take you 18 years to figure out. That’s okay.
Give yourself a year, two years on some things. Give yourself and your family time to figure out who you are as a family and what is important to you. It may not be the things you envisioned before you had a baby, and that’s okay. You may have less or more kids than you originally thought, you may change your mind on discipline, education and your career. It’s all okay. Take your time on what you can.
More important is who you are as a parent and how you interact with your kids as you learn who they are.