A while ago I shared a newsletter titled “My thoughts on… to baby or not to baby?” and it went wild. I have never had such a huge response to a newsletter topic before and I received an influx of DMs, emails and messages across all social media platforms from women expressing gratitude for me opening up the conversation. It made me realise that this is something so many of us are conscious of, thinking about and are perhaps a little overwhelmed by; but it feels a little taboo to express any reservations you have about the choice you want to make.
So today I wanted to firstly reassure you that so many women are feeling confused about the decision of whether to start a family, and secondly share some of the content which has given me valuable insights and information, in hopes of it helping more of you find your own clarity on the subject. This content might not be appropriate for everyone, and I wanted to pop in a trigger warning for any women who are struggling with conceiving – as I know having children isn’t just a simple choice for many. Some of you reading this might be happy mothers or aspiring mothers, some of you might be dead set on a child-free life, and some of you might not even be thinking about what to do with your womb.
Me? I am putting a lot of conscious thought into this life choice. But the one thing I do know is that whether I decide to try for children or not, I want that to be an educated decision based on a solid background of reading, conversations, reflection and experiences. Becoming a mother is pretty life-changing, and I don’t just want to do it because everyone else is. I want to do it because it’s the right choice for me, my partner and our future.
To help me understand motherhood further, not only have I been speaking to those around me, but I have been actively consuming content related to the subject of raising children as well as being childfree by choice. I wanted to share some of those resources with you today:
By far my favourite book on motherhood, it delves into how to juggle a career and children. It goes beyond the usual surface level discussions and dives deep into logistics across the lifespan from the newborn phase right through to teenagers. It is a hugely insightful read.
A funny, relatable and engaging read which explores the “panic years” when people start to make huge life choices such as marriage, changing careers and moving house. The author focuses on the biggest choice of all – whether or not to have children.
If you’re looking for a book which is equal parts brutally honest and laugh out loud funny – this is the one for you. I thoroughly enjoyed how the author shared her own experiences and explored the concept of whether mothers can truly have it all.
This novel from Emma Gannon follows a young female character, Olive, who makes the choice to not have children and shares her experience of challenging the expectations placed on her. It places particular emphasis on the impacts of this decision on female friendships.
This incredible book focuses on being a black British mother. It is honest, raw, straight-talking and eye-opening, giving insights into the pressures, injustices and micro-aggressions black mothers experience. Essential reading for all.
An honest account of the highs and lows of parenthood from Giovanna Fletcher, with a focus on the highs. It is a positive, touching and uplifting read.
A book exploring conversations with women who have made the choice to be child free, including the good, the bad and the unexpected.
Another personal account of motherhood, this time from a mum of 5. Sharing the overwhelming joy, moments of loneliness, and everything in between.
A collection of essays from different writers who argue that parenthood isn’t the only path to happiness.
If you’re a task-oriented woman like me, you’re going to love this book. It is a hands-on roadmap, guiding the reader through practical exercises and thought provoking questions to help them reach a decision on whether or not to have a child.
ARTICLES & VIDEOS
There are so many incredible articles around this subject, but my ultimate favorite is The Ghost Ship That Didn’t Carry Us. Instead of sharing other peoples experiences (which will never truly reflect your own) and giving advice (which is almost impossible when they don’t know your specific circumstances), the author provides questions and prompts to help you look inward and reach your own conclusion. I can’t recommend it enough.
If you enjoy consuming content through videos, To Have or Not to Have Children is a great YouTube video by the School of Life. It ultimately argues that whatever choice we make, there will be suffering and regret.
Looking around, it can feel like everyone else is so confident and sure in their decision of whether to have children or not. The reality is that you are not alone, and in fact there are whole communities of people feeling just as confused and overwhelmed as you. One of those is the Fence Sitters reddit forum, a place where members ask questions, seek advice and listen to each other’s experiences. You don’t necessarily need to share a post to take a lot away from it though, the threads are open for all to read and can provide valuable insights for onlookers. CHECK IT OUT HERE
There are quite literally whole podcast series dedicated to the conversation around whether to have children. Two that I have listened to and enjoyed are: “To Baby or Not to Baby?” and “Maybe Baby“, which both have a similar style focusing around conversations with people who have different perspectives on the parenthood debate. I also find it interesting to listen to more general motherhood podcasts such as “Birth Stories”, ” Mums the Word” and “Happy Mum Happy Baby“. And not forgetting stand alone podcast episodes on this subject, such as The High Low episode “The Child-Free vs Motherhood Dialogue” and the At Home With Anna and Lily episode titled “Motherhood: Unfiltered“.
PEOPLE TO FOLLOW
I love to follow women who share their motherhood experiences. Some personal favourites are Ashley Louise James, Sarah Turner, Raising Hikers, Carly Rowena, Sarah’s Day, Elsa’s Wholesome Life and Giovanna Fletcher.
There aren’t many content creators who are open about being child-free by choice, but two who I enjoy following are Emma Gannon and Farah Storr. Both are journalists and have published articles about this subject.
ALL IN ALL
I know this can be a touchy and controversial subject, and quite honestly talking about it makes me nervous. Ultimately on all fronts, I am trying to expose myself to both happy mothers and happy child-free women, and learn about the differing perspectives and experiences of them all. If you’re constantly being asked about whether you want kids but don’t know the answer, then I hope these resources can help you work towards reaching your own conclusion.
To finish, one final reminder. It can be tempting to follow the traditional life path of buying a house, getting married and having kids without really questioning it. This is the most common life trajectory for a reason and if it makes you happy then please – go for it. But please, think long and hard about the direction you want to go and if this doesn’t fulfill you, don’t be afraid to step off the beaten path.