I met a woman at a party recently and we went through the usual talk of asking about each other’s lives. When the topic of children came up, she asked if I was a mom. I told her that I’m not, and it was a refreshing change to hear her say that, even though she’s a mom herself, she thinks that me not having kids is a great thing. She imagined that without children I must have much more time and energy to focus on my career, and she was absolutely right.
In my book, Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance, I tell the story of how I stumbled into childfree adulthood by happenstance. I was simply too busy with other things and my partner wasn’t inclined to plan for having children. Then one day I realized that time had made the decision for me. And now that I’m here, I feel grateful for the life I have. Below are a few things that I, and other folks without kids, are able to enjoy.
1. Free time
I watch people around me, both clients and friends, and see them dashing from task to task, from activity to activity, with limited ability to just enjoy the moment. Although I work fulltime, I don’t hire help for any household tasks and do most of the cooking for my husband and me. I still have time for a daily walk or run, leisure reading, time with friends, and I go to bed early every night. I don’t feel like I don’t have the experience described by so many Americans of frantically juggling too many things and feeling exhausted and stressed to the max.
2. More emotional energy for relationships of my choice
Not having children has allowed me to have people in my life that I choose and the time to nurture these relationships in a healthy way. I don’t have to spend Saturday evening with someone who happens to be my child’s parent or stay close to relatives for the sake of keeping my child connected with family.
3. Time and energy for my career
Four out of five women my age are moms and it baffles me to think that many of them are able to work fulltime on top of raising a child. Time experts say that it takes 7.5 hours a day to do child-rearing tasks for two children. These women must be exhausted! As a psychologist, I feel it’s critical to come to work each morning well rested and ready to listen and be fully present for my clients. I feel fortunate that I’m able to do this on a consistent basis. This happens, of course, because I do have the time for self-care, for exercise, leisure time, social time, and sleep.
What aspects of your childfree life are you grateful for?