Was having children in my twenties a mistake?

having children in my twenties

I am a mum of two. My eldest boy is four and my youngest son has only just turned one. Most of the other mums I know have two or more children too, we have that in common, but about 90% of those mums are almost a decade (sometimes more) older than me. In fact, at 26 years old, I have already finished building my family before so many women have even started theirs. Research has found that the average age of women having their first baby in the UK is 30, a whole 8 years older than I was when Leo came along. By the time I reach 30 I will have an almost 8 year old and a 4 year old; the baby days will be far behind me but for many other women my age the adjustment to life as a parent will only just be beginning. With so many women choosing for many different reasons to wait until their thirties to start a family, I have been left wondering about my own life choices. Have I missed out on something by having my kids at a younger age? Was choosing to start a family in my early twenties a bad decision? Both my children were planned but was my timing all wrong? Was having kids in my twenties a mistake?

Was having children in my twenties a mistake?

I had always known that I wanted kids. I wouldn’t say that I am a born ‘maternal’ type, always favouring dressing up Barbies to mothering baby dolls when I was little, I have always loved babies though. When I was 14 both my older sisters got pregnant and had their first babies within a couple weeks of each other, I spent a lot of time with my niece and nephew and I knew that when I was older I definitely wanted to become a mum too. Having a family of my own was definitely something I pictured for my future.

My husband and I got together when I was 18, just before I started university. We had been together for around 2 and a half years before my broodiness kicked in. I was half way through my final year of university when we (probably stupidly) decided to try for a baby. Despite us both being healthy and in our twenties it took almost 11 months for us to get that life changing positive pregnancy test. Looking back, I am glad it took us so long to conceive, knowing what I know now about how exhausting and stressful pregnancy can be I doubt I would have finished university with a first class honours if I had been pregnant. I am sure it would have been almost impossible to receive the grade I did if I had spent those crucial last few months of my degree feeling sick with my head in the toilet instead of feeling focussed with my head in a book.

In the summer of 2013 when friends were entering in to the world of employment, partying their weekends away and travelling, I gave birth to my first child, Leo. In an instant my life changed and the road I had been travelling along with everyone else my age split in two. School friends, university friends and ex work colleagues carried on along the road that led them through career progression, drunken adventures and a life without the responsibility to preserve an actual human life while I started along a different road with a newborn baby in my arms – off on a different kind of adventure of our own.

having children in my twenties

Being a young mum has been difficult at times. I have often felt judged by those old than me, those who assume because of my younger age that I can’t possibly know what I am doing. At 22 I probably looked about 3 years younger and I don’t know if it was my youthful appearance that often made older people feel the need to bombard me with unasked for advice and unwanted opinions or something else. I have often thought about how difficult it must be to be a teenage mum, if I felt like everyone was judging me at 22 years old, I can only imagine how first time mums in their teens must feel. Making mum friends has been difficult too, I have no problem being friends with older mums but sometimes that age barrier can be difficult to break down. Finding a common ground (other than the kids) to talk about can be difficult with mums who are almost a decade older than me, I am happy to try but sometimes I end up just feeling like a child myself. Older mums have often experienced so much more than I ever have, they speak of their past careers and achievements while I worry will I ever actually get a job of my own one day. We are all mums though, whatever age we are, I just sometimes wish I had more exciting life experiences to talk about instead of starting yet another conversation built solely on small talk about the kids. I wouldn’t say the mums in their late thirties and forties are better mums than me just because they are older, I also don’t claim to be a better mum than them just because I am the ‘right side’ of thirty.

I would be telling a lie though if I told you I never wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t chosen to take it in a different direction to everyone else I knew my age. I do ponder occasionally what 26 year old me would be doing if she didn’t have two sons to care for. I wouldn’t have been unfairly dismissed from my first ever full time job, that’s for sure. Getting sacked because I was pregnant was not the start to my career that I had hoped for and sometimes I think where would I be now if Leo had come along just a couple of years later. Sometimes I think about all the countries I would love to visit and feel pangs of jealousy when I see my childless friends plaster photos on Facebook of themselves on some exotic beach in a country I will probably never get to visit. Maybe without the financial strain of bringing up two kids on a single wage we could have been home owners by now. Without having to budget for food, nappies, clothes, toys and everything else babies need we could have a car each, a wardrobe full of new clothes and every summer we could jet off, just the two of us, for a week of actual relaxation in the sun.

We don’t have any of those things. Instead we have two beautiful boys who have enriched our lives so much more than any amount of money or high flying career every could. I am glad I didn’t wait an extra ten years or so to meet them. We never know how life is going to pan out but if no diseases or tragic accidents get me, I could be there for my kids until they are pensioners. I could potentially hold a great grandchild in my arms one day. By having my boys at a young age it hopefully means they will get to keep me in their lives for longer, we can be a family for longer.

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So, yes, it would be lovely to own a house, to travel the world, to have a stable job and to not have a wardrobe full of clothes covered in mysterious stains put there by the kids. It would be lovely but I would never choose those things over the lovely family life the kids, Oli and I are living now. Was having children in my twenties a mistake? No way! I look at my babies and any thoughts of that alternate universe where I don’t already have them disappear. These boys are my life, they make me  so happy and feel so much love every single day and I am so glad they came into the world when they did. Anyway, in a few short years Alex will join his big brother in the classroom and that will be my time to start trying to clamber on to the career ladder. As for travelling, nights out, disposable income and all that other superficial stuff, when I’m 43 the boys will be 21 and 18 and I will no longer need to worry about finding a baby sitter or how they will cope without me around 24/7. I will have two adult sons hopefully capable of looking after themselves and that will be the time for Oli and I to do the things we are missing out on now. I am not wishing for that day to come around too quickly though, everyone tells you to enjoy your kids while they are small and, it may be hard sometimes, but that’s exactly what I plan to do. I love being a younger mum and if I could go back in time I wouldn’t change a thing.

How old were you when you had your first baby? Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you had waited to become a parent or if you had chosen to start a family sooner instead? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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31 Comments

  1. October 29, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    Love this! Your story is so similar to mine! I found out I was pregnant the week I finished uni. I think there’ll always be those questions – did I make the right decision? would it have been better to wait like everyone else? – but, like you, I love being a young mum, and knowing that (hopefully) I’ll be there for them for many years to come.
    Lucy At Home recently posted…BlogCrush Week 37 – 27th Oct 2017My Profile

  2. October 30, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    I would love to know what life would have been if I had my baby in my twenties, would I have been prepared, would I be able to provide what I can provide now? Or how would things have turned out with what we already had or didn’t have. I always wondered, but that’s as far as it can go. Thanks for sharing your experience of being a young mum. #bigpinklink

  3. October 30, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    I was 29 when I hd my first and 31 when I had my second. I enjoyed every minute of my twenties I partied, holidayed and saved up for our first house. We also had a shitty tine renting some dodgy dakts, having some crappy jobs and wonderng what the hell we were doing with our lives! But I honestly cant imagine doing it any other way. Then i see friends of mine who are my age and whos kids are so much older and think wow their way was different but no less perfect. Their lives in their thirties and forties will be so diferent to mine and there nothing wrong with that. We will all suffer from a case of the grass is greener and what ifs at one time or another. I know in my twenties I wasnt ready for kids that was just me. I know women who hve left it til now though and are struggling and wish they had tried sooner. You’ve got a beautiful family and such a future ahead of you! Dont wish for anything different xx
    pam lorimer recently posted…Does guilt affect your life?My Profile

  4. Lucy
    October 30, 2017 / 8:44 pm

    Very similar story to mine. I had my first at 21 and my second at 24. I had already worked two years in an office before my first and a few other jobs, I started employment at age 16 so by the time I was 21 I already felt I was ready for my first baby having none stopped thinking of having a baby from the age of 17! I do feel jealous of my friends who are always flying abroad to some lovely hot country’s and who have bought their houses and got great jobs! But like you I cannot wait to (hopefully) have grandchildren and spend as much time possible with my two children and any future grandchildren. I would like more children but with my youngest already 5 I now feel that having another child would put back me having any time to do the things I would like to do when they are 18+ so for now I am going to enjoy being a mummy and when my kids are grown up I can do things I have missed out on if I didn’t have children – like holidays. Being a young mum and being able to spend the longest possible time with my children is the best feeling. Could not imagine leaving this earth with them only in their 20s and not knowing what life they had, and as long as nothing takes me away before my time then I will never regret having my children when I did.

  5. October 30, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    I love this post! I was kind of a young mum being 24, 26 and 38 when I had each of my children. I know exactly what you mean about being a decade younger than everyone else at toddler group and it did make me feel a bit like I didn’t fit in sometimes. Now I’m 30 and our family is complete I’m excited to spend my 30s enjoying my children and having family adventures together. In my 40s they’ll all be teenagers and maybe I’ll get a bit of my independence back? It’s funny to think 10 years from now, i’ll Have a 15, 13 and 12 year old but people the same age might just be starting their families and going through the baby stages with their children. I like what you said about having more time to spend as a family, I’m hoping that I’ll get to be a great grandmother one day too! Xx
    Louise | Squished Blueberries recently posted…What’s in my backpack for a whole day in the forest with three children?My Profile

  6. October 30, 2017 / 10:26 pm

    You are exactly right. There are other adventures later and Motherhood is also a great adventure.

  7. October 31, 2017 / 8:09 am

    Wow I love this and totally relate to it. I was 19 when I had my first. I am now 29 with 4 kids. This time next year I will be choosing a senior school for my first born!! I definitely don’t feel old enough for that!!

    The kids’ Dad and I have been together since I was 17 and have been together ever since. We have now been married for four and a half years. A fairy tale one might think. Well for all intent and purpose I guess it is but it’s been One heck of a ride.

    Yes like you I often wonder how my life would be if I hadn’t started & completed my family so early on but would I change it? Not for the world.

    My kids are a little older now so I am finding my feet back in the world of employment, I have been back to college and I am lucky enough to be a home owner. Because you started young you still have plenty of time to do all those things.

    Our bodies will not always give us babies but life always give us opporunities. So my way of thinking is I may have got that dream job and dream career but I might have been left unable to have children because I left it too late. Then what is all that ‘stuff’ if you don’t have kids to share it with?!

    I absolutely think we have done this ‘the right way round’!

  8. November 1, 2017 / 7:59 am

    I had my little girl at the age of 26 and I feel that’s was the best age for me. My husband and I were married and saving for a house so it was the perfect time. Sometimes I do think what it would have been like if I had her when I was younger. Would we have been able to do all the things we did. It’s crazy to think that when I’m in my 40s I’ll have a teenage, now that’s scary. Like you said perhaps it’s then when we can start to get some independence back…beautiful post! X
    Kelly-Anne | Mimi Rose and Me recently posted…A BATTLE AS A MUM WITH ANXIETYMy Profile

  9. November 2, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    I was 31 when I had mine and in hindsight I wish I had had him sooner. Even though I don’t feel 36 (eek) it does play on my mind that I might be an ‘older’ Mum when he grows up, even though these days we stay younger for longer. But I couldn’t have had him any sooner. I didn’t meet my husband until I was 27 so I didn’t really hang around. Within a year of being married I was pregnant. It is what it is and I think we should just be grateful that we have healthy happy children. Thanks for joining us at #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again next week. X

  10. November 2, 2017 / 12:28 pm

    at 46 my babies are 25, 22 and 18. I thought it would be great having my time after the kids left home, sadly although I have the freedom and finances to travel, i do so on my own while hubby is working and my friends are still raising their families, time to re enter the workplace and resume my career #triumphanttales

  11. November 3, 2017 / 6:33 am

    I had my first child when I was 30 and my second when I was 33 but I wish I had my kids when I was in my 20’s – like 25 or 26. I’m 41 now and my eldest is 11 – which is a good age as I still energy to do things with my kids. Having kids much later in life has it’s pros and cons – I guess you more financially secure but there is also the con that you too old and don’t have the energy to do certain things with a very young child like outdoor activities. I suppose looking back now – my husband and I enjoyed our life without children in our 20’s we could travel and could do things together, we bought a house and then decided to start with a family. I suppose – once you find out you pregnant no matter what age – it is a blessing.#Blogcrush

  12. November 3, 2017 / 10:15 am

    Great post! Can totally relate. Hopefully it will mean you get more time with them and become good friends with them when they are adults too There’s never a ‘right’ time to have kids.

  13. November 3, 2017 / 11:46 pm

    I think reading posts like this is so therapeutic when it comes to Mummy guilt. Definitely helped me, thank you! #blogcrush

  14. November 4, 2017 / 12:14 am

    Such a lovely post Wendy… I love this bit especially:
    “I could potentially hold a great grandchild in my arms one day. By having my boys at a young age it hopefully means they will get to keep me in their lives for longer, we can be a family for longer”

    I guess there are pros and cons to having kids earlier/ later, but as long as one is content with their decision, and the way their life has panned out, there’s no right or wrong age. Stay happy and blessed with your lovely family.
    #Blogcrush
    Nicole – Tales from Mamaville recently posted…This winter, let there be light… (Litecraft review)My Profile

  15. November 4, 2017 / 8:57 am

    Brilliant post! I think whenever you have your kids no one should judge whatsover. I work with brilliant Mums of all ages and every parent needs support no matter how old they are! We adopted, I was 34. Had I of been able to conceive and got pregnant in my twenties they wouldn’t have been my husbands! Just think when they are old enough to work and leave home they can pay for your travels and you will be young enough to enjoy them!! #blogcrush

  16. November 4, 2017 / 1:57 pm

    I had my oldest when I was 24 years old. In a few short weeks that beautiful baby boy will be 16! While my brother had his kids late and they have yet to reach double digits, I am about to celebrate (and cry) for my baby’s 16th. I have always wanted to travel but I only did a little of it before having him. I now am making plans to travel within 5 years time. Is it late? Maybe but I’m only 40. I still have time to see the world. I tell my boys not to have children until their at least 30 but I also understand that if they don’t wait until then, I will still be a very happy and proud grandma. I think it’s natural for us to wonder what different course our lives would have taken if we had waited a little while longer to start a family but at the end of the day, we love our families. I’m so proud of the young man my son is turning into. It’s so amazing to watch him and his brother grow. Sad. But also amazing. Great post! Thanks so much for hosting #blogcrush

  17. November 4, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    Ohh I know how you feel!! I’m 20 now and have a two year old daughter and one year old son so I was 17 when I first gave birth. I think for me it hasn’t been too bad as I haven’t felt judged for being young and I know that I’m a good mum and that I’m doing good with my children so I do feel as though I have proved myself but it was still hard.
    I want four children in total and we’re thinking about a third soon but I’m a bit worried how people will react because I am still young. My friends are all off travelling etc which does niggle me a little whilst I’m sat at home in the cold uk with no tan haha.
    At the end of the day even though I’d have finished having children by the time my friends start me and my partner will be able to go on holiday and stuff with them and alone whilst they’re older and I’m so so happy and that’s the main thing 🙂 #BigPinkLink

  18. November 5, 2017 / 6:01 am

    I do think younger mums are unfairly judged, as are mums who start their families over 40, there is always something for someone to complain about. It seems judging others is enjoyable for many people out there! If you have one child you are selfish, if you have more than 3 you’re crazy, if you wait until your 38 then you’ve waited too long, if you are 20 it must have been an accident or you just want a single parent pension. You can’t win.

    I was 27 when I had Aspen, I looked really young and so did hubby so we were often told we looked too young, people are shocked when I said I was 27. I would have had children younger if things had have worked out differently. In fact now I am 40 I still would probably have another one but as I had a heart condition during my third pregnancy I couldn’t risk it. I always wanted 4. I wish people would stop judging others and focus on their own happiness. I also wish we better supported each other as mums in the community. It can be the most isolated and lonely experience and we need to be kinder to one another. #blogcrush
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…should I be blogging about my children? #mummyshotMy Profile

  19. November 5, 2017 / 3:20 pm

    I’m on the other side of you… had our first at 45 and second 48. It worries me that I am an older momma (the Mrs., she gave birth, and is 11 years younger than me.) There is never a right or wrong time, just when it happens! <3 #blogcrush
    Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…The Harry Potter Festival!My Profile

  20. November 5, 2017 / 5:14 pm

    Whenever we have children it’s never a mistake (even if it wasn’t it isn’t!) because there is no right age to have them. I have often worried that I left it too long by having a family in my 40s as I will be a pensioner when they are in University. But we make the choices we make for all kinds of reasons and all that matters is that children are loved and cared for. #blogcrush
    Adrian recently posted…10 Things I’ll Miss About BabiesMy Profile

  21. November 5, 2017 / 6:17 pm

    I was 28 for number 1 and 30 for number 2 and now, aged (cough) almost 46 I love that I still have loads of energy (most of the time!). I love my 17 and 15 year old of course and life has been amazing but I’m also beginning to look forward to time again for just my husband and I. I have loved having my children relatively early and of course, it was a struggle at times but there is no perfect time to have children. You have so much more energy in your 20’s and 30’s and I cant imagine having toddlers now! Lovely post and welcome back! I haven’t linked up recently because I have also been mega busy. Good luck in your new home. xx

  22. November 5, 2017 / 11:32 pm

    Beautiful post lovely, I am regularly asked by others if I regret having my children in my twenties. I always easily answer no and I’m sure I always will. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x
    Hannah Jane recently posted…Big Pink Link #83My Profile

  23. November 6, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    I think everyone has moments where they question themselves. We always have those fleeting moments of “what if…” but everyone is different and the decision that works for one won’t work for everyone. Just popping back from #blogcrush
    Lucy At Home recently posted…BlogCrush Week 38 – 3rd Nov 2017My Profile

  24. November 8, 2017 / 9:00 pm

    I became a stepdad at 32 and father to my first at 33.

    I do wonder sometimes if life had been different if I’d had kids earlier in life. Part of me thinks I wouldn’t have been ready, but then another part thinks it might have been a good thing.

    I think as with everything in life. We are all different and what is good for one person isn’t always right for someone else.
    Alan Herbert recently posted…Devil’s, Castles and CandyMy Profile

  25. November 11, 2017 / 7:54 am

    Let me tell you right now that it was not a mistake to have a child so young, and all of these things you talk about will happen, and you’ll be young enough to enjoy your life when they have left home. I fell pregnant with J at 26 – if I’m to be completely honest I didn’t want children until my mid thirties, but the hubster is several years older than me and didn’t want to be an old dad. Do I have regrets? Yes, sometimes I do – we don’t own our house, and had her much quicker than we had financially anticipated, so we struggled A LOT. But we’re finally in a position where we are able to start thinking about buying a house, saving a lot of money and so on. it’s hard, but it’s right for us. You’re doing fab lovely x #thesatsesh
    Sherry recently posted…The Girl in the Yellow DressMy Profile

  26. November 11, 2017 / 8:22 am

    There is probably never a ‘perfect’ age to have kids, every stage in life would have it’s pros and cons, glad you are happy that you had your kids when you did. You all look very happy in the photos! #thesatsesh

  27. November 11, 2017 / 8:40 am

    I don’t think it matters what age you are when you have kids. There is no right or wrong time. If you’re waiting for the ‘perfect’ time I’m not even sure it will ever come. And I’m pretty sure we all wonder what if we were older or younger. We all still get judged. And we all get unwanted advice. #thesatsesh
    The Rhyming Mum recently posted…Confessions from a tired mum – I can’t finish anythingMy Profile

  28. November 16, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    #thesatsesh I was 26yrs and 30Yrs and have to say Ive never given age a thought, I don’t look my age and am often judged for being a pupil in my classroom rather than the teacher lol. Other peoples perspective is irrelevant in this case. Concentrate on you and when your boys are grown up and you and the Mr are holidaying in fab locations, you can look at your mates on FB struggling with early teens and laugh.
    fridgesays recently posted…Never be a prisoner of your past, it was just a lesson not a life sentenceMy Profile

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