Whether starting a family is right around the corner for you, or you have a few more years to go, you’re probably wondering how to make the most of your time beforehand. Starting a family can change your life in a lot of ways, from daily activities to aspirations.
As you may know, many people create bucket lists. Some bucket lists have a certain time frame in mind while others are meant to be completed over a lifetime. A bucket list can include large or small activities and other things you hope to accomplish. The exact contents vary depending on your personal goals.
Before starting a family, there are tons of things you can do with your time. The following suggestions, though more practical for life prior to starting a family, are not limited to people without children. These suggestions do make sense, however, when you have a little less on your plate (or to put on your child’s plate) and a little more freedom.
We hope you find inspiration for your own pre-baby bucket list among the 25 ideas below.
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1. Road trip
Ever had the urge to pack up your car and drive? Whether you go on a solo trip or you plan a list of places to hit with your friend, partner, or dog, getting out on the open road is a freeing experience.
Without a child, you’ll have significantly less supplies to bring with you and less stops to make.
2. Tap into your professional goals
If you love the line of work you’re currently in, you may not have to do anything. However, if you’ve been having a “what if?” moment about your career choice lately, perhaps now is the time to make an adjustment.
Consider advancing your career with an additional degree or reaching out to your network for other job opportunities. If you’re not ready to head back to school just yet, many parents are able to juggle additional schooling, such as an online program, after they have children.
3. Learn how to sail or scuba dive
Before your schedule is full of feedings and nap times, consider learning a new skill or getting a certification. Sailing and scuba diving are two unique hobbies you may want to learn. If you don’t live near water, you can take up hiking or mountain biking, for example.
4. Go somewhere far away
Always wanted to go to Machu Picchu? How about Thailand? Go ahead and treat yourself to a trip to that far-off destination.
It’s not that children aren’t allowed in these places, but you’ll have a lot more freedom to explore and stay up at all hours of the night taking in local cultures and foods.
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5. Do something that scares you
Consider this the time to do something unique for yourself. Though scary can soundlike breaking a law, you can play on the safe side while engaging in some healthy risk-taking.
Maybe this is the time to get that tattoo you’ve been thinking about, or go on a skydiving trip or freebase jumping. Overcoming your fear of one thing can make the family planning process seem more doable.
6. Go hiking or camping
Hiking and camping are great family activities as well, but you’ll be free to explore more advanced trails or challenge your survival skills if you do so without a baby in tow.
If you’re new to hiking or camping, you can have a mini-adventure in a park near you. Not every excursion has to be at Everest level.
7. Plan a bar or restaurant crawl
Is pizza one of your favorite foods? Love beer or wine? Plan a tour to hit all the best local spots or travel to a different city. Hire a driver or call a party bus and make an event out of it with your friends and family.
Eating out is possible with a baby, as is going to bars. However, babies aren’t necessarily the best wingmen or women.
8. Remodel or repaint
If you love where you’re currently living but don’t think it’s family-friendly yet, consider remodeling or repainting. Paint fumes and dust from demolition work — not to mention the noise — can be harmful to a newborn.
You can spend this time preparing a play area and a nursery for your baby, as well as installing other child-proofing measures. Maybe it’s time to put your sword collection in storage and move your cleaning products up to a higher cabinet.
9. Or move somewhere new
On the other hand, maybe you’d like to move to a bigger home or apartment or relocate to a quieter area of town. You may also consider looking into nearby daycare facilities and the ratings of nearby schools. Some cities and neighborhoods focus on being family-friendly, while others are loud, proud, and cater more to nightlife. There’s nothing wrong with starting a family in a big or busy city, but keep in mind that while noise and commotion may not bother you, having a baby in a noisy city may be more onerous than fun.
10. Take yourself on movie dates
It’s a common courtesy to remain quiet in movie theaters. Though showing your emotions is welcome, a baby probably won’t have as good of a sense of when it’s appropriate to yell or laugh. But, they’ll probably cry all on their own — whether it’s a sad movie or not.
Taking a baby to a movie theater will not only be strange or even frightening to the baby, but also unfair to those around you. You’ll likely have to save movie dates for when you can get a sitter or enlist a family member to babysit. So, soak up some cinema time while you can.
11. Work at your favorite coffee spots
If you work from home or have a flexible work environment, change it up. Once you have a baby to look after, you probably won’t get out of the house as much.
Spend some time in your favorite local coffee shops or cafés. If you get tired of going to the same place, try a new one, or check out your local library.
12. Follow Your favorite band or musician
We’re not telling you to become a groupie, per se, but we’re not not telling you to become a groupie. If you have a favorite group or musician, go to one of their shows abroad if they’re touring internationally or visit a new city to see them.
There are a few things that don’t mix very well with young children, and two of them can be loud noises and crowds.
13. Exercise mindfully
Get yourself into a solid workout routine prior to having a baby. Whether you’re a dad or a mom-to-be, incorporating mindful movement into your day is a great way to physically and mentally prepare for a child. If you’re new to exercising, consult a physician for advice. They can likely recommend activities that you can continue safely throughout the pregnancy and after.
14. Compete in a marathon or triathlon
Training for a marathon or triathlon is a time-consuming endeavor. Though it’s possible to dive into a training routine after you have a baby, how cool would it be to knock one out before starting a family? If you’ve never trained for a marathon or triathlon before, you don’t necessarily have to go all-in. Many events welcome walking or slower paces.
However, you should consult a professional if you’re new to training. The last thing you want to do is bring a lifelong injury into a new phase of your life.
Serving as a foster parent — to either a child or an animal — can give you a better sense of your parenting style. This can also give you a better idea of what you need to equip your home with once you bring your own baby home.
16. Rent out your spare room
You probably know that having a child is a large expense. If you have a spare room in your home or apartment, consider renting it out to a friend, family member, or a responsible tenant for the time being. If you feel confident in your hosting abilities, you can also list the room on Airbnb.
Try to save what you make and create a fund for your child’s education or other expenses.
17. Take yourself on a date
Whether you spend a whole day or a weekend alone or just with your partner, take your time enjoying the little things. Go to your favorite eateries, visit your favorite spots, and cherish the time you have alone or alone with your partner.
Once you have a baby, it may be a while before you can have uninterrupted time together.
18. Visit museums
Children often love museums, too. However, if you’re a fan of obscure art or haven’t been to every museum you’ve wanted to see, take a trip and enjoy time wandering with no real plan or responsibilities.
19. Go on a college tour
Haven’t visited your alma mater in a while? Relive your college days and bring your friends or partner with you for a tour. Visit all your favorite spots and enjoy the time recounting your memories — from bars to study spots and sports venues.
20. Or plan a tailgate party
Consider getting your group of friends back together for one last tailgate or party before you start your family. This way, you can be as rowdy and obnoxious as you want at your favorite sports arena — lawfully, of course.
Paint your face and let loose, by all means! Though it’ll be fun to bring your children to your alma mater or favorite stadium someday, you’ll likely be busy for a few years and may want to wait until they’re a little older.
21. Ask for advice
There will be a time for advice once you or your partner is pregnant. It’s common to have blank books for guests to record bits of advice and well wishes at baby showers. Even walking around town, it’s likely that many people will try to give advice to you as an expectant parent, especially if you don’t ask for it.
For the opinions of people that do matter in your life, however, you may consider asking your friends who have children or even your parents if there’s anything you need to know before starting a family. What do they wish they did beforehand?
22. Make sure your health is in order
If you aren’t visiting a primary care physician regularly, or haven’t been to the dentist in a while, now is the time. Make sure your health is order before starting a family. Not only will you get any procedures paid for and out of the way, you can have the peace of mind that a professional has given you the green light.
Your primary care physician can also recommend obstetricians and any other specialists you may need to see.
23. Boost your confidence in the kitchen
Do you live off of takeout and frozen meals? Have doubts about how to use the stove? Ask a friend or family member who loves cooking or baking to show you how to make a few homemade dishes. Once you have a baby to feed, you’ll likely visit the grocery store a lot more.
Having someone show you the ropes and how to pick out the best fresh ingredients will go a long way for you and your child’s health. Many grocery stores offer rewards programs and run sales, too, especially on baby items — you don’t see restaurants doing that. After all, you probably won’t feel like going out to eat and bringing all your baby gear with you every time you’re hungry.
Plus, ordering in or getting food delivered can become costly.
24. Train a companion
Getting a kitten or a puppy is a great “trial run” for having children. If you’ve never had a pet before, it can help you gain experience taking care of something that can’t always verbalize what they need. Plus, animals make wonderful companions to even young children.
25. Sleep in
Maybe the idea of extra sleep sounds really exciting to you, maybe not. However, once you have a new baby, you probably won’t be sleeping through the night — or napping, or sleeping in.
Catch up on your sleep for a while prior to having a baby. Having a good sleep routine is essential to good health regardless. Going into family planning already sleep-deprived will likely result in a lot of bad moods and mental fogginess.
Cherish This Chapter of Your Life
Many people are constantly looking ahead to the future. This isn’t a bad thing, however, it’s sometimes hard to be present and grateful for the experiences and opportunities available to you right now — not nine or more months down the road.
Family planning is incredibly exciting, but you owe it to yourself to enjoy life before that begins, too. For life-planning in other stages of your life, here’s an end-of-life planning checklist and advance directives for your reference.