I was 24 when Luisa was born, I definitely considered myself to be a young parent. I felt a bit awkward having a baby in my early 20s as I was hardly a ‘teen mum’ but I was a good 10 years younger than the majority of people in my antenatal & (later) mums & tots groups.
In the UK the current average age to have your first child is 30.2 and climbing. In fact a newborn baby is 4x more likely to have a mum who’s over 40 than one in their teens. In my experience I was too old to be cut a break or given the benefit of the doubt but too young to be taken seriously by or ‘fit in’ with the other mums to be I encountered.
Now that I’ve been at this parenting malarkey for a year I really don’t care about any of that in the slightest. I don’t envy those who had their baby at a more, or less, appropriate time, In fact I don’t think there even is a ‘right time’.
5 Perks of Being a Young Parent
- Luisa has four wonderful grandparents who are still young enough (just about haha) to run, wrestle and jump with her. They help us out massively by entertaining her when we need a break & it’s amazing to see her relationship with them. She adores all her grandparents and I’m excited to see those relationships get even stronger and sweeter as she grows.
- Because she’s the first baby in the family Luisa is a real novelty. She is doted on by all of our siblings and I love the fact that they all have so much time for the littlest family member.
- When I had Luisa my career was far from established. Rather than interrupt it she has, in fact, created a whole new one for me. If I hadn’t had Luisa in my 20s whilst working part time doing admin for a publishing company I would never have had the time to start a pregnancy blog. I’d never have made all these brilliant online friends and I certainly wouldn’t be forging a career as a social media manager. Having a baby in my early 20s turned out to be an inspiration and springboard for my career not a wall I needed to climb over.
- I didn’t have to make big changes to my lifestyle or finances. We never had any real money or savings to start with. I don’t drive and don’t have a mortgage or a loan. Without those big financial responsibilities I found it pretty easy to save the money I used to spend on crap for baby. I guess because I never had a lot of spare cash I was used to saving up for things so it hasn’t been a big adjustment.
- When Luisa starts university I’ll be 43, so even if we have a few other kids we should have an empty nest before we’re 50. This means Matt and I can sell up, buy a camper van and go explore the world before we need a hip replacement.
3 Challenges for Young Parents
- Isolation. I’m sure this is an issue for many pregnant/new mums regardless of age but I felt like as a ‘young parent’ I didn’t fit in with the rest of the mommy set at some of the groups I went to. They we’re mostly lovely but at 8-12 years older than me they had different interests and not a lot of time for me.
- Your 20s is an odd stage, you could be at university, in a graduate job or off travelling. When I look around at my peers sometimes it seems like they are living them dream. They don’t have a lot of responsibilities and can be more spontaneous.
- It’s harder to have a social life as you need to be organised with a babysitter and things come up last minute like illness. That being said I feel like this is kind of a good thing as in my case having Luisa to consider has made me a) more organised in general and b) value my time more as a moment to relax or time away from her is rare.
I absolutely love being a young parent to Luisa and from what I’ve heard the perks just keep increasing, Emma from Emma & Three was telling me how later this year she’s heading off on a holiday to Kos with her teenage daughter. Emma was 23 when she had her baby and loves the strong bond they have and that she can relate to her as a teenager. They love to go shopping together and have a great relationship. I’m really looking forward to having those experiences with Lu when she’s older although I’m under no illusion that i’ll still be her embarrassing Mum sometimes!
Amber of Goblin Child has beautiful twin boys and twin girls on the way. “We had our first set of twins at 25, in an area where the average first-time mother is in her late thirties. Con: everyone always assumes that my other half is the nanny! Pro: IVF worked really bloody well (twin pregnancies twice over, no failed cycles) and I’m reasonably convinced it’s because we started young.”
Lucy of Hello Beautiful Bear says that having her baby at 23 meant she had a few years of flying her kite and was ready to settle down when Lily came along. Her biggest struggle with being a young parent is that she’s had some negative reactions from people who perceive her to be reckless or incompetent due to her age. More fool them! If you know Lucy you’ll agree with me that she’s an outstanding Mum.
Amie from Finding our Feet had similar problems to me when it came to fitting in at Mums & Tots groups as a young parent. “When people ignore you at the coffee mornings because you’re the ‘young mum’ and they assume therefore you’re not interesting, educated or worth chatting to.”
She also raised a really interesting point RE career, “It’s hard being the junior in the office and not being able to put the time in like the other juniors because you have other pressures on your time other than just yourself and your career. On the other hand you have a hell of a lot more motivation than the other juniors in the office!”
What age were you when you had your first baby? Do you think that there’s a ‘right time’ broadly speaking or is it very much a personal thing? I think it goes without saying I wouldn’t change how or when I had Luisa for the world. She’s changed my life in almost every possible way and I’m proud to be a young (ish) parent.