The Benefits of Being an Older Parent

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I recently went to brunch with someone who has two adult daughters. We’re nearly the same age. Baby Moneyaire is a baby. As my brunch mate is wrapping up raising children, I’m just beginning. I found myself a little envious. As I worry about whether Baby Moneyaire is eating enough protein and smelling Baby Moneyaire’s rear end to check for a poopy diaper, her girls are starting to care for her. They actually set her up on a dating site. She’ll start living a kid-free life at a point in her life where she’s earning more than she ever has, and has more confidence and wisdom to boot. It got me thinking; what are the benefits to being an older parent?

Becoming a mom at nearly 40 wasn’t part of the plan. Mr. Moneyaire and I spent 11 years trying to get pregnant. We almost gave up. I was in my late 30s. Mr. Moneyaire was in his early 40s. We were the quintessential double income no kids couple traveling the world and being the best Auntie and Uncle ever. Then it happened. One of our IVF rounds led to a successful transfer. Baby Moneyaire was born and life has never been the same.

Geriatric Pregnancy

A funny thing happened when we finally got pregnant. We were nervous about how old we were. My doctors were also very worried. My chart was emblazoned with “high risk geriatric pregnancy.” That title followed me throughout my pregnancy. I had extra scans, monitoring and tests. I was in the doctor’s office at least once a week for a majority of my pregnancy. Not that I minded – I enjoyed watching Baby Moneyaire develop and listen to her heart beat. Every test that came back negative made me feel so excited. Perhaps it was all the “scrutiny” my pregnancy spurred; Mr. Moneyaire and I started to worry about whether we’d be able to handle the physical demands of raising a child. We worried about how long we’d “be around” for our baby. Would we live long enough to see grandchildren? You know, basic irrational fears of what *might* happen.

Baby Moneyaire making her presence known.

Becoming a parent, at any age, is life changing in a way that words just cannot fully explain. Exhausting days and nights trying to sooth a crying baby. Trying to breast feed and pump and heal. The puke, the poop, the pee pee. First smiles. The warmth of a tiny little body nestled into your neck and shoulder. Those wonderous eyes.

Now that I’ve had a chance to catch up on some sleep and reflect back over the last year and a half, I believe there’s a silver lining to the fertility struggles we had. Having a baby later in life has given us some advantages we would not have had if we had our baby in our 20s or 30s.

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Here are some of the advantages of being an older parent:

1. We’ve learned from other people’s experience

There are so many books, blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels about how to be a parent. However, there’s no better teacher than experience–especially when you can learn from another’s experience. As our siblings, cousins and friends had their own kids, we were lucky enough to get an intimate look at various parenting styles and results.

Keep calm and carry on

Mr. Moneyaire loves to tell people about how one of our cousins would calm their toddler’s tantrum. We have a beautiful and well adjusted niece who is now a teenager. When she was little and would get upset, her dad had a brilliant way to quell her tantrum. He would take her out of the situation, help her to calm down and then talk to her very calmly about why she was upset and how to make it better. Once they talked things through, they would come back in together. She would apologize for her behavior if appropriate and then rejoin us. Mr. Moneyaire loved the calm way her dad would help her and then bring her back to be with everyone again. It gave her time to be upset and then calmly talk things through and then return.

I remember when I would get to spend time with her, she would apply this technique on me to help me see things her way. She would very calmly look at me and say, “Let’s talk this through together.” She was only 3. I was always amazed by that. Her parent’s calm way of raising her was exactly how Mr. Moneyaire and I wanted to parent.

We’re learning

This is not to say that I or Mr. Moneyaire haven’t lost our cool around her. We aren’t perfect, nor do we always know how to navigate all situations. We very much “wing it.” When we have been short with Baby Moneyaire we’ve also noticed how to affects her; she gets scared. That’s not how we want her to feel towards us, ever, if we can help it. Mr. Moneyaire and I talk through how we want to parent and we check in with each other often to make sure the other one is onboard. We want to be a united front to Baby Moneyaire and working things out as they come up has been really helpful.

2. Solid Relationship

The hardest thing Mr. Moneyaire and I have gone through together was becoming parents. First, the years of unsuccessfully trying. Then, as we were about to give up, getting pregnant. My pregnancy was considered high risk and I was borderline gestational diabetic. What got us through was our strong relationship. I remember falling in love with Mr. Moneyaire in a new way during my pregnancy as he doted on me. My pregnancy came with challenges; I was not allowed to exercise, we had a scare at 19 weeks, I was borderline diabetic, and oh, right, there was a raging pandemic. I was so exhausted the entire time. Mr. Moneyaire cared for me in a way he never did before.

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Becoming parents

It took us a while to become used to being parents. We were so used to our jet set life where we’d fly out to a new city to catch a ball game or do a whiskey tasting on a whim. After having a baby, going to the bathroom, let alone take a shower became something that had to be scheduled.

More set in your ways

Being older does mean you’ve become used to things being a certain way and change is not welcome in all areas. It’s tough. Mr. Moneyaire and I fought more than we ever had after Baby Moneyaire was born. A baby changes everything about life. It was difficult for the both of us to get used to our new normal and figure out each other’s new roles.

We are older, more mature and more determined to provide the best life possible for Baby Moneyaire. Kids really take a toll on you and relationships. Having a partner you can rely and lean on is invaluable. Our relationship is better equipped to handle the stress of raising a child than when we were younger – specifically because we have a lot more patience and allow each other more grace. We’re supportive of each other and more attune to each other’s vibes than when we were in our 20s.

Support

Being an older parent means your friends have probably gone through being parents themselves. We were able to lean on our friends for advice and as sounding boards. Just the other night I was able to Facetime with one of my best friends and we commiserated about the typical annoyances of family life. Its so important to be able to have these conversations and get off your chest what is bothering you and also know that you’re not alone.

Many of our friendships go back decades – and those friends have their own invaluable parenting experience they can share with us (plus very useful and fun hand-me-downs). We can share our trials and tribulations. Our friends rallied for us when we were having trouble adjusting to parenthood. Our child’s grandparents are all in good health, retired and eager to spend time with Baby Moneyaire. Baby Moneyaire has an army of Aunties with very good advice. We’re very lucky to have the supportive friends and family we do.

3. We are more mature and knowledgeable

We have made many great and not so great decisions. We’ve learned a thing or two. We’re also more patient, have more confidence and humility. All of that helps us to be better parents. We don’t stress too much about whether we’re doing things right or perfect with Baby Moneyaire. We take a more casual approach to things. For example, Baby Moneyaire has a habit of eating food from off the floor. What she doesn’t eat off her clean sanitized plate she readily eats off the floor. We don’t have pets nor do we wear shoes in the house and we clean the floors regularly. I just kind of roll my eyes when she picks up macaroni off the floor she refused to eat 5 minutes ago and brazenly eats it while staring me down. She is eating after all, right?

It’s gross and I am worried about illness, but I also believe a healthy dose of low level germs training Baby Moneyaire’s immune system is important. So far, Baby Moneyaire hasn’t gotten sick from eating food off the floor or licking the backs of her shoes (why does she do this??).

More laid back

There’s no single manual on how to be a great parent. I read blogs and seek out advice online about how to be a mom. A lot of the advice out there is so intense. I’m more laid back about things. I do what is best for Baby Moneyaire – to an extent. I don’t stress if I’m doing things perfectly. My main goal is that Baby Moneyaire be happy and healthy. I certainly don’t do things for Baby Moneyaire that come at too high a cost to me, Mr. Moneyaire or Baby Moneyaire.

Confidence to say “No”

I was struggling to breast feed – I would spend hours a day pumping for or feeding Baby Moneyaire. It was a nightmare. A friend of a friend who had two grade school aged girls told me to just quit. She said it so matter-of-factly. She explained, that I had done my part with breastfeeding, it was time to let formula take over. After all, any nutrient deficiencies I have, and if I was stressed out, I was passing (or not passing) that along to Baby Moneyaire. After a bit of thinking on it, I decided to quit breastfeeding at about 4 months. A few close family members encouraged me to stay breast feeding, because it was best for the baby. Society in general pushes it on new moms. “Breast is best” is the battle cry.

Breastfeeding may have been incrementally better, but it came at too high a physical and mental cost to me. Baby Moneyaire needs a happy healthy mommy, and she has thrived on formula. If I were younger I may have felt pressured to stay breastfeeding. But I had the confidence to take care of myself and in doing so that would take care of Baby Moneyaire.

Confidence to do it our way

We also have more confidence and humility. We don’t have all the answers nor do we do things “right” all the time. Doing what’s best for our family does take priority over other people’s opinions. We know it’s not the social norm to suggest contributions to a 529 plan instead of a physical toy. It felt awkward to suggest 529 plan contributions at first but ultimately our job as parents is to give Baby Moneyaire the best start in life. We don’t value stuff, and we don’t want to have a lot of it. Space is at a premium at our house and we don’t want Baby Moneyaire to become overwhelmed by stuff.

By the time Baby Moneyaire is college bound, college could cost upwards of $400k. We believe that higher education is important, and we don’t want Baby Moneyaire saddled with that kind of debt so early in life. Every dollar that is contributed to her education fund in her early years will reduce her expense burden later. Our goal is to have at least $125,000 ready for Baby Moneyaire when she turns 18. We’re projecting more than half of that to be stock market gains – that’s free money.

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Twice or thrice loved

We also welcome hand-me-downs and used items. Nearly all things for Baby Moneyaire are temporary. She may love her blue balancing widget today and be over it in a few weeks. By the time kids outgrow things, they’re still practically new. A good friend of ours told us to always accept items or gifts as they came our way – we could always give them away if they turned out not to suit us. It was excellent advice. We have saved thousands by accepting hand-me-downs and buying things like strollers second hand and not turning our noses up at them. Most of Baby Moneyaire’s clothes, toys and tools are hand-me-downs. All the money we save helps us contribute to our investments and Baby Moneyaire’s 529 plan.

4. Better financial position

We joke that if we both died, Baby Moneyaire would be automatically FI. Mr. Moneyaire and I talked about when we wanted to start a family before we got married. We had developed this idea that after hitting a $300k net worth, we’d be financially ready to have children. Why you ask? Well, at the time, $300k was over 3x our yearly combined earnings. Coming from a lower middle class background, that was a lot of money. I thought at that net worth, I would be able to go to Starbucks, pay for a $6 drink, buy diapers and not feel worried about any of it.

A $300k net worth came and went up

By the time we did have Baby Moneyaire, we had more than quintupled that $300k net worth. After giving birth I was on maternity leave. It was just 12 weeks – 6 of which were not paid. One of those weeks was spent in the hospital when Baby Moneyaire got a kidney infection from a condition she was born with. As my maternity leave was coming to an end, the idea of having to be away from Baby Moneyaire most of her life while we both worked weighed heavy on me and Mr. Moneyaire. One morning, Mr. Moneyaire proposed that I not go back; “I’ve been crunching the numbers. You don’t have to go back to work if you don’t want to. We have enough money. It’s up to you.”

Stepping out

We had always discussed that I would return to work after my maternity leave and send Baby Moneyaire to daycare or to a nanny. With the pandemic still raging we both were very hesitant to do that. I had always wanted to be able to “retire” early, but what would I do all day? Baby Moneyaire provided an answer to that question. The years we spent building our careers, saving and investing meant one of us could stay home and care for the baby we were so lucky to have. We were so lucky to be in this position. The thing that really propelled us: starting early. The more time your money is working for you in the market, the more time you’re giving your money to compound, nearly effortlessly on your part.

Building up to Enough

Because we weren’t parents we had the luxury of focusing on our careers and investments. I went back to get my MBA which almost doubled my income before I even earned my degree. Since we didn’t have kids, we had the financial and time bandwith to purchase run down condominium units, fix them up after our day jobs and then rent them out. It was a lot of work and we would regularly put in 80 hour weeks between our regular jobs and real estate ventures.

After they were fixed up and rented out we’d spend maybe 20 hours a year managing them as they cash flowed for us. We also had the time to learn about personal finance and the luxury of taking control of our finances and figuring it out ourselves. As a parent now, doing all those things while raising a young child or children seems impossible. Hats off to those folks who are able to do it.

When I left my job I was very fearful of whether we could manage without my salary. We had expected our net worth to stall out at best. At worst, go down. But, we got to have our cake and eat it too – our net worth has grown since I left my job. We may not have as much coming in like we used to, which has cramped our ability to buy more property; however, that’s okay since we don’t have the time to rehab and rent out extra properties right now. Another perk of being an older parent: we can afford to get away.

We can afford it

I recently booked myself a little Mommy getaway; a junior balcony suite on a 3 night cruise, just for myself. I had to pay for double occupancy, even though it’s just for me. It’s an extravagance but one we can afford. Mr. Moneyaire is going to be traveling to Vegas at some point this year and we’re planning on more trips together as a family. We can afford all this because we were able to work, save and invest before we had a baby. We taught ourselves about personal finance and became experienced investors. Our Era of Austerity, the long hours of rehabbing and renting out property, living in a more affordable house than we could afford, driving a reasonable mid-range car, skipping the extra car… it’s paying us dividends now.

Mr. Moneyaire has developed a solid career and reputation for getting things done. He has a great job with great benefits (we get a free Costco Membership and internet at home is paid for!!) and he makes a decent amount. One of the biggest perks is that he gets to work from home. When he can, he comes up to see Baby Moneyaire and occasionally they have lunch dates. Baby Moneyaire is certainly benefitting from her parents getting to be around her so much.

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I’m exhausted

There are certainly benefits to being an older parent, however, there are some pitfalls, too. Not having the same level of energy as you did 20 years ago being one of them. We certainly don’t have the energy we used to. In our 20s an 8pm dinner was early and a primer for bar hopping till 2am. Now, if we haven’t eaten by 6pm its crisis mode. Panic sets in if I go to bed later than 11pm. I’m sure my brunch mate had so much more energy raising her daughters than I do. That being said, we’ve had a really fun life and will continue to do that, but maybe just at a little slower pace.

Mr. Moneyaire and I were talking about how we’re pretty lucky to have traveled as much as we did before we became parents. Now that Baby Moneyaire is here, a flight to Florida has us anxious. We can’t imagine a transatlantic flight now with Baby Moneyaire, but we will be back at it some day. We were able to travel, have fun adventures and go through the growing pains of growing. We’re looking forward to continue our growth as a family now.

What benefits or pitfalls of being an older or younger parent have you experienced? Please share your own experiences in the comments section.

Thanks!

Mrs. Moneyaire

One thought on “The Benefits of Being an Older Parent

One thought on “The Benefits of Being an Older Parent