According to a 2014 report released by the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 5 U.S. births are now to women 35 and older, and that slice has been growing every year for the past decade. Births were up 3 percent for women aged 35 to 39 from 2012 to 2013 alone.
While it’s true that it doesn’t necessarily get easier to become pregnant or give birth as women age, physically or medically speaking, there are more than a few advantages to having kids later in life. If you do find yourself in this position, rest assured, the rewards can be sweet, even profound.
Older moms have simply spent a few more years on the planet than younger moms have. They have traveled more, have experienced more good and bad times, accomplished more and have a broader view of what is possible. “I’m better able to distill parenting information, pick out the useable bits, and turn it into action,” said Leah, 40-year-old mom to Ella, 3, and Vivienne, 1. Life experience of all kinds can come into play with childrearing, from conflict resolution to emergency preparedness to dramatic storytelling. You’ll see: You’ve got chops!
Both working and non-working moms who waited to have kids said that having some ladder-climbing time behind them means they have options: they can continue to work at the same level, being more likely to be able to afford child care; they can take it down a notch having earned the credibility and flexibility to make some accommodations in their schedules; or they can step back and take a break all together knowing they can pick up where they left off later. Said Melissa, a 48-year-old attorney and mom to Lydia, 5, and Jack, 7, “I'm past that beginning ambitious part of my career and could step it back … but still have enough experience to head back out there and be high-powered again if I want to.”
Several older moms said that they are grateful that their parents and other family members are available and willing to help with child care now, whereas a few years ago they were too busy working and it wouldn’t have been possible. They also mentioned that during family gatherings there are older cousins around now who can play with their younger kids, leaving them time to spend at the “adult table.”
You’ll undoubtedly have friends with kids who just went through what you’re about to, in every stage of your child’s development. Their advice and experience will be invaluable. And a bonus: they’ll be dying to offload their no-longer-needed “stuff” – clothes, shoes, toys, you name it – on YOU. Tap these resources for advice on sleep, feeding, local activities, schools … they are a treasure trove.
What is it about having young kids that keeps you young? When people find out how old you really are after seeing photos of young toddlers on your screensaver or spotting you out and about with your big double stroller, they won’t believe you. They'll likely assume you're about 5 years younger than you are. And that is why you don’t necessarily need to tell people. They don’t need to know – do they?
The older you are, the more likely you may be to have savings. This can be a stress relief, because as we know, kids are expensive. But it also means you may be in a better position to start a college savings fund, consider luxuries like private tutoring and viola lessons, and take family vacations in the summer.
Remember merry-go-rounds, waterparks and rollercoasters? Or maybe video games or petting zoos were your thing. They’re all yours to enjoy, again – and trust us, the time and distance DOES make it sweeter.
Staying home on Friday night after the kids go to sleep feels A-OK – in fact, it feels awesome. You’ve had your fill of late nights, and family movies on the couch are now your idea of a great time. Priya, 42-year-old mom to Suhani, 4, and Arjun 3, said she experiences “absolutely zero thoughts that your friends may be out partying somewhere ... because they are not.” The pain you may have felt in your 20s or early 30s at this notion ceases to exist as you’re pushing 40 – or 50.
Older moms are much more likely to have learned something that will take them far when it comes to parenting – they have learned patience. “I know at this stage that everything in life that seems impossible will pass,” said Melissa. You have also had time to explore your interests and “find yourself,” so you are ready to take on the challenges – and enjoy the rewards – of parenthood with sense of self and inner peace. “I know myself better and can pass on the wisdom of self-love to my kids,” she said.
No matter who you ask, older moms will all say in one way or another that they are constantly living in a state of gratitude and appreciation, even on bad days. When you are older you have a greater understanding of how quickly time passes, and you’ll recognize that being able to welcome children at this stage in life is a gift you will experience with a full heart, each and every day. Even when there are carrots on the walls and peas in your hair, you’ll enjoy it.