1. Go to amusement parks.
Once you have kids, your visits will be dominated by costumed characters, sing-a-longs, and kiddie rides. Before that happens, you should make a trip when you ride the scariest roller coasters and stay out as late as you like.
2. Save money.
A 2013 United States Department of Agriculture study found that parents can expect to spend nearly a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child.
3. Adopt a dog.
Fur babies are great at preparing you for kids.
4. Read books about the parenting experience.
The “baby books” are worthwhile reads, but they only teach you how to take care of your baby for the first year or so. Books like Carrie and Me, though, are more important to read because they give you a glimpse at the totality of the parenting experience: the joys, frustrations, and ultimate brilliance of it all.
5. Move somewhere you’ve always wanted to live.
Dream of knowing what it’s like to live in New York, on a ranch in Wyoming, or in a foreign country? If so, you need to take the plunge now, because making such a huge life change after kids is much, much more complicated.
6. Do something dangerous.
Once a little person is depending on you to take care of them, you’ll probably lose the nerve to jump off a cliff (or run with the bulls in Pamplona). So if you want to do something extreme, do it now.
Seeing the world is a whole lot easier when you have to buy one plane ticket instead of, say, four.
8. Stop drinking if you have a problem.
You don’t have to quit drinking just because you become a parent, but if drinking is a problem or becoming one (and you know deep down if it is), then you need to address the issue. It’s not fair to bring a child into the world if you don’t.
9. Ask your parents what it was really like to be a parent.
Your parents likely shielded you from their daily struggles when you were little, but now you can (and should) ask them what it was really like raising you. What did they find most difficult? Did kids put a strain on their relationship? Speaking openly about these questions will help you understand what having kids will really be like.
10. Really get to know, and enjoy the company of, your partner.
Spending a couple years or more focusing on each other will give you a strong foundation to draw on when you have kids and things get harder (which they tend to do).
11. Finish school.
While it is possible to finish school when you have kids, it’s not easy because in addition to school you have to financially support a family AND be someone’s mom or dad. If you can finish school now, instead of later, you should.
12. Eat at adult restaurants.
Once you have kids, eating out will almost exclusively happen at family-friendly restaurants (with the rare exception of when you go to the trouble and expense of hiring a babysitter), so experience those cool restaurants now.
13. Get your crazies out.
A lament you hear from some parents is that they never got to be young and have fun. Once you have a child, they officially become the kid and you’re now the responsible adult. So don’t rush it if you feel like you should still be having your fun.
14. Establish your career (as much as possible).
As we’ve established, kids ain’t cheap. So if you can dedicate yourself to getting ahead at work before you have kids, you’ll be in a better position to take care of them. (You’ll also be in a better position to slip out to T-ball games.)
15. Learn how to do something you’ve always wanted to master.
This not only will give you a great sense of fulfillment, but keep you from spending the next 20 years saying, “When these kids are finally out of the house and I have some time I’m going to learn to play the guitar once and for all!”
16. Pull an all-nighter…for fun.
You’re going to be up a lot at night (especially when your kids are little), but not by choice. That’s why you should make the most of this time in your life when the only reasons you’re ever up at 4 a.m. are fun ones.
17. Do something spontaneous.
A parent’s life is pretty much the opposite of spontaneous, so when you’re kid-free and able to, for example, go to Vegas at the drop of a hat, you should.
18. Be selfish.
When you have kids you almost always have to put their needs ahead of yours, so don’t be afraid to throw yourself a few “me parties” when you can.
19. Get right with yourself.
If you have unresolved issues from your childhood, insecurities that are holding you back, or anything else you need to remedy about yourself, the time is now. You can’t guide someone toward being the best possible person they can be when you haven’t made sure you’re the best possible person you can be.
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