What fun things should we do before having kids?
September 19, 2012 8:50 AM   Subscribe

AdviceFilter: What life experiences (or fun things) should my partner and I make time for, before having a baby?

I have recently turned 35 and am in a relatively new, but very solid and loving relationship (he's 30) where we both want kids and have talked openly about what that means for our timeline as a couple. I don't want to wait too long, given my age, probably a year and a half at most. He fully respects that and is happy to get serious about being parents as soon as I'm ready.

At the same time, we've been together just a little less than a year, and so I also want to take time to enjoy us as a couple and do fun things that become difficult/impossible when kids enter the picture.

What experiences should we make time for in the next year or so, as we deepen our relationship and enjoy time together before we get serious about baby-making?

What do you wish you did before you had kids?
posted by amoeba to Human Relations (19 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Travel somewhere with only one small bag for the two of us, and then sleep the entire goddamn day.
posted by iamabot at 8:58 AM on September 19, 2012 [10 favorites]

Yeah, if you have a fantasy vacation along the lines of "find deserted tropical beach, lie on it all day, hardly moving except to sip a cocktail" then do it now. There are a million enjoyable ways to travel with kids of all ages, but that isn't one of them.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:07 AM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Sleep, sleep and more sleep. Sit around the living room in your underwear and get really drunk/stoned/something and watch really stupid television and eat a lot of crappy food. Have loud sex all over the house.

Except in the early days when the baby was wee and fragile, we haven't let being parents keep us from doing things we really wanted to do. And most things are MORE fun with the addition of my fabulous kid! But the sleeping in thing goes away for a long time and I had no idea I would miss it so much. And the ability to just lie about doing nothing, not having to worry about whether the spawn is fed, etc. Or to get drunk and act stupid without worrying about freaking out my kid. I'm not even a big drinker or anything.
posted by upatree at 9:08 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sleep and eat out as much as you can. I never realized that I cared about these things until I had kids.

I haven't slept past 6:15am in over four years. (!)

I haven't eaten at a restaurant without getting completely stressed out in over 4 years, either.
posted by TinWhistle at 9:20 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sleep, leisurely sexy sex, vacations that don't involve paddling pools, late night bars and dancing, theatre that doesn't involve puppets, live music gigs, and pending the possible arrival of hemorrhoids, anal sex.

It's not that you can't do those things post-baby, it's just that they are a lot harder for the first few years and require a lot more planning and/or a lot more lube.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:25 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Travel, particularly internationally if that is something you want to do. With one kid in college and one in high school, I'm just now getting back to daydreaming about the trip to Ireland that we should have done 20 years ago.
posted by COD at 9:28 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Be spontaneous. Decide at 6:00 PM on a Friday that you're going to go out at 9:00 PM and stay out until 2:00 AM.

Sleep late.

Read a book, uninterrupted, for longer than ten minutes.

Go for a long walk without carrying anything that weighs more than your phone.

Go for a long car ride without smelling poop 20 minutes into it.

Have sex in the kitchen/living room/bathroom. Have sex in the morning after you wake up but before you get out of bed.

Enjoy the company of friends. Go out with friends without having to be home at a certain time. Talk about all sorts of non-kid related stuff.

Contrary to what you may have heard, once you have kids you can still do stuff, even stuff that people think you can't do with a kid, but it's a lot more difficult, takes more planning, and often requires understanding from the people you did that stuff with before you had a kid.
posted by bondcliff at 9:36 AM on September 19, 2012

Any hobbies/activities that require you to be fully invested, able to be places multiple times a week (or even religiously once a week) if you don't already have one just file it under the "it becomes way harder" once you have a kid. So enjoy them for the next 2 years so that you can pack them away for a while with less regret.

Nice restaurants are a good one, my daughter is a very good diner, but there are still a lot of places I can't/won't take her - and even the places I will take her are less enjoyable over all because there's a ticking clock. 1 hour dinner fine - 90 minute dinner...not so much

Trips - this is an interesting one, I travel with my daughter to NYC regularly, and have since she was a baby (she's 5.5 now) she LOVES taking long walks and exploring the city, but if I want to sit and relax for an hour in a coffee shop I need to pass her off to my husband. If we want to sit and relax we need to leave her with the grandparents for the weekend. I have a friend with a similarly aged daughter who takes a european trip every year, just the 3 of them. Last year they went to Barcelona, this year they went to Amsterdam. They have a GREAT time. So while taking a trip with your partner is always a good idea I don't know if you need to write off traveling once you have a baby. I think it depends on your personality and priority.
posted by dadici at 9:43 AM on September 19, 2012

Backpacking (if that's something you like or have ever wanted to try).
posted by mosk at 9:43 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you enjoy plays that do not center on Muppets or Princesses, now is the time to see them.
posted by apparently at 9:56 AM on September 19, 2012

Response by poster: These are good suggestions, thank you. I suppose I'm looking for more of the "once-in-a-lifetime" experiences that are better without kids, and less of the "what do you miss about being childless that you can't do anymore" ideas. For example, although I appreciate that new parents are certainly sleep deprived, we get plenty of sleep now and can't really "stock up" on that.

We are definitely taking advantage of spontaneity, restaurants, absurd amounts of all-day sex, grownup entertainment like theater, etc.

I'd really love some Big Bold Adventurous ideas, or — like a surprise weekend away, or traveling to non-kid places (dangerous places? adventure travel?), or projects to do together. Backpacking/camping is a good idea. We've talked about traveling somewhere for a week of sailing lessons. Surprise weekend in a hotel room with great room service is another idea.

I love making big gestures and surprises...

Thank you!!
posted by amoeba at 10:01 AM on September 19, 2012

Best answer: Pursue whatever riskier things you have interest in now. Tandem skydiving, rock climbing, glacier hiking, cave diving, trying fugu, travel to under developed areas, white water rafting.

Less adventurous activities that will be trickier with children are home swapping vacations, travel via AirBNB, a Green Tortoise bus adventure. Canoe camping, Dinner in The Sky.

Daily life - enjoy a non-baby proofed house! Dining on delicate bone china, glass holiday decorations, heirloom pottery on the cocktail table, silk duvets...

At its simplest have no plan. Bring together time, money and an bottle. Spin the bottle. Head in that direction. Reach a crossroad and uncertain? Spin the bottle. Repeat as often as needed and see where you end up. No plan, no preconceptions, no expectations - just responding moment by moment to your desires.
posted by cat_link at 10:22 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My wife and I were in a similar position five years ago. We quit our jobs and spent all our savings on a year-long trip around the world. It was absolutely fucking awesome!
posted by ZipRibbons at 11:05 AM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Cheap exotic vacations. Because they are possible with kids but very very expensive.

Anything that involves altering your state of mind.
posted by French Fry at 12:17 PM on September 19, 2012

Best answer: I have lost my taste for a lot of even mildly dangerous stuff (swimming too far out into the sea) post-baby, so I think you're on the right track.

Three ideas:
- Go on a big scuba diving trip. Belize. The Big Island of Hawaii, maybe. Go somewhere from there you can't get except on an all-day boat charter. Where you can't be reached by cell phone.
- See a volcano. The Big Island is pretty good for this too (although lava flow varies.) There are also Central American options. And Iceland, of course.
- Raft down the Grand Canyon! (The link has other suggestions too.)

Save the weekend in the hotel with the room service for when you actually have the baby. (You'll be trapped in the hotel room by a sleeping baby soon enough ...) And don't take any advice to sleep, relax, etc. That's what I wish I could do now. Two years ago? I wish I'd gotten off my ass and hiked Half Dome.

Uh, I am a rule-following sort of person, but I think the answer to this might be ... hallucinogens? Like, for serious. I realized while reading that Oliver Sacks New Yorker piece about doing all the drugs that this baby means that my window for that is closed.
posted by purpleclover at 1:23 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Popping in to echo purpleclover. My physical risk tolerance has plummeted since I had a baby. (Maybe not so much for my husband, though.) So if I could do things over again, I'd incorporate a lot more white-water rafting in my pre-baby life. I tried it for the first time a year before getting pregnant in my mid-thirties, and I wish I had tried it ten years earlier.

Also, any kind of hobby where the logistics get tricky once there is a small child around.
posted by stowaway at 1:48 PM on September 19, 2012

Long-distance travel is much, much easier without kids. We took a safari in Tanzania and visited Zanzibar - I can't imagine doing that with (young) kids, but it was awesome for us as a couple.
posted by dilettanti at 3:18 PM on September 19, 2012

Drop acid.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:36 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Travel is entirely different with children. It's delightful with children - you see the place through their eyes, you get to enjoy child-oriented activities and make family memories, it's generally slower-paced and more organized in that you have your kids' routines that you organise your day around.

Travel now on your own or as a couple and do the risky spontaneous things. I guess you could travel with the same freedom afterwards if you left your child behind or took a nanny with you, but you'd have a chunk of your brain worrying over your child.
posted by viggorlijah at 2:17 AM on September 20, 2012

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