For some people, starting a family is an unexpected occurrence that they are thrown into. But for others, the consideration of whether or not to start a family is a serious question that they think about often. There is a lot of work that goes into having a child and if you are not ready, it can be an extremely stressful time until you get your bearings.

If you’re thinking about starting a family, it’s time to put some deep thought into preparation for this life-changing event. There’s a reason that people say having a child is the best, but hardest, the thing you’ll ever do. When you are ready to start a family, it should be an incredible, joyful time, and it will be if you prepare ahead.

Some people decide to make the change and jump right into being parents. They get blindsided by all of the unexpected upheavals and work a tiny, bouncing bundle of joy can bring into their lives. But if you sit down with your significant other and do some research, it will help you to know what you are getting into and be (somewhat) prepared.

Here are 10 questions you should ask yourself before starting a family.

Are You Really Ready for Both the Sugar and Spice of a Child?

 It’s easy to look at pictures and movies of the sleeping, perfect infant and think, “Yes, I want that!” But ask your friends and family to let you in on the truth of what that angelic cherub is like at other times – it’s not always as sweet. And sometimes it’s enough to drive even the sanest, calmest, most rational adult a little bit off the deep end.

Yet we do it anyway.

But before you tether yourself to another human being for the rest of your life, think about what it really entails and answer these questions honestly to decide if that’s what you really want right now or if you’re suffering from “baby fever.”

What’s your motivation to be a parent?

Are you at a place in your life where you think that having a child is the next natural step and you can provide your baby with a stable, happy home environment? Or are you trying to appease someone else?

If your parents are pushing you to make them grandparents or you think that having a child will help cement your troubled relationship, you might want to wait a little longer. Yes, it’s great for your child to have grandparents, but if you’re not ready to be a mom or dad, then your own parents will just have to wait a bit longer.

Statistics show that children born to parents who are not happy together usually won’t strengthen the relationship, but now you’ve brought a child into the world who has to deal with your unhappiness, too. Make sure you are motivated by the right reasons – you want to bring a life into the world that you can love and provide with a happy, loving home.

Are you financially ready to provide for another mouth to feed?

Babies are expensive and they don’t stop costing you money until they’ve grown up and gotten their own jobs and families. Are you prepared for that extra cost?

It’s not just diapers and formula. It’s health insurance, life insurance, sick visits, medicines, food, clothes, field trips, after school activities, entertainment, and an extra person every time you want to go somewhere. In fact, studies show that to raise a child in America just to the age of 18, you’ll be investing over $200,000. Is that what you are comfortable spending your money on, and can you afford it?

Do you have skeletons in your closet you need to resolve?

Everyone has issues in their pasts. It’s a given. But if you are still working through yours, or your partner is working through theirs, and you need to focus on your own healing, you might want to consider waiting to have a baby. For a long time, their safety, health, and well-being will come before your own, and you need to be able to be strong enough to put them first but not lose yourself in the meantime.

Are you healthy enough to have a child?

If you will be the person carrying the child, you need to know that you are physically healthy enough to nurture the baby in your womb for nearly ten months without causing harm to yourself or nutritional developmental problems to the infant.

Fathers don’t get off free and clear, either, though. It’s their DNA that combines with the mother’s to form the genetic makeup of your child. And if one of the parents is infertile, a whole new level of obstacles have to be overcome. Luckily, we live in a time where infertility no longer has to mean you give up on having a child, thanks to places like

Do you have a support system?

Becoming a new parent can feel lonely at first. The nights are long, the days blur together, and you love your child so much that you don’t want to entrust them to just anyone. It helps to have a support system to get you through this tough time.

Someone to watch your baby while you take a nap or you and your significant other have some much-needed quality time can be a lifesaver. Conversely, when you only rely on each other to do everything necessary with a new child, it can create stresses in your relationship.

One of the biggest causes of postpartum depression in new moms is the lack of a support system. To help prevent this, make sure you have a strong family unit nearby to help or other friends with children who know what you are going through before you start a family.

Do you have experience with kids?

Having a child definitely is a hands-on learning process. Every baby is unique and will grow up differently. But if you don’t have any experience with children, it’s going to be difficult to know what to expect. You may feel like you were blindsided by a steamroller some days, while others you feel like SuperParent. It’s normal, but you may not understand that if you’ve never been around kids.

Are your pets baby-friendly?

It’s not recommended that you get rid of your pet just because you are having a baby. Some pets and babies have an incredible bond. But if you don’t know how your furry friend is going to respond to a baby in their home, taking up your time and attention, you should introduce the two carefully and keep an eye on their interactions. Make sure your pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations, clean, and flea-free.

Is your job flexible?

One of the first things new parents learn is the importance of flexibility when they have a child. The best-laid plans will go awry with completely unexpected problems and demands from your tiny infant or toddler.

If your job isn’t steady, you don’t have maternity leave, or you are going to end up in trouble for taking off to bring your sick child to the doctor, you may want to find another position before you start a family.

Is your home suitable for a baby?

Yes, you can baby-proof most environments, but if you live in an 18 and up an apartment complex, condo, or restricted community, you’re going to have to move. Also, big safety concerns need to be addressed quickly, such as pools, stairs, and easily accessible dangers.

Is it time?

There is never a “right” time to start a family. If you look for obstacles, they will be there. But if ychildou feel like you have answered most of these questions confidently as a “yes,” and your partner is right there with you, it may be as close to a perfect time as you are going to get.

When the Answer is Yes, Go On, Get Happy!

Being mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially prepared will help you limit some of the excitement and upheaval that goes hand in hand with having a baby.

There’s absolutely no preparation that you can do to get you ready for everything that your new addition will require of you. But there’s also nothing that can prepare you for the amount of love you will feel holding that child in your arms and watching them grow and become their own person.

If you and your partner are ready to have a baby, don’t let the little things get in the way or the naysayers scare you. It’s your choice to start a family, but it’s also a huge responsibility to give your child and your family the best foundation that you can possibly provide for them.

These questions can guide you into preparing for a family as best as possible, but know that there’s really no way to understand what you’re getting into until you hold that baby in your arms.