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Children or no Children?

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  • Avatar jessikaur 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 11/01/2017

    Ok, before I’m harangued by everyone with kids. Let me explain…

     

    I recently read WCI post on becoming FI and traveling more. In the title of his post, he wrote something along the lines of the “pesky” kids being a deterrent to travel. (still possible to travel, but requires more planning, and in some respects could be less enjoyable).

    The comments to the post went on all sorts of tangents, so I thought I might revive a different question that has been plaguing me: should we have kids?

    I am a 36 year old hospitalist with a criminal defense attorney husband, he’s 39. We are both ambivalent about kids, since our current lives are so fabulous.

    A hospitalist works week on week off schedule, I’m pretty much a workaholic and have worked up to four jobs in the span of a year in moonlighting, plus got my MBA.

    jobs – full time hospitalist at VA

    – part time hospitalist in the private sector (but still employed by the group)

    – moonlighting with a third group (occasionally, i would go to my private job first, then see extra patients at another hospital for this group)

    – chair of internal medicine at an 8 hospital facility x 4 years

    –  working professional MBA (this is completed as of april of 2016 @ UF)

     

    despite all of those jobs, and extra responsibilities… I have been able to take greater than 3 months off each year to travel around the world, will give examples, and everyone always says, where do you find the time? I basically tell them, when I’m at our home city, I work, and when I’m not working, I travel, so have very few “stay-cations.” But I am ultra-efficient at my job, and what takes most hospitalists 12 hours to complete, I can get done in four, hence the ability to do so many jobs at once, and every year, we are traveling more than the year before!

    2013 – new zealand, india, tanzania

    2014 – france, south africa

    2015 – Vietnam, a bunch of places, I can’t recall off the top of my head.

    2016 – Chile, Italy, Myanmar  (with texas, california, north carolina, new york and a smattering of other domestic trips that I can’t remember right now)

    2017 – Argentina, Sicily, Spain, India/Sri Lanka

    2018 (yes, I already have these planned out — argentina, italy, tazmania/australia)

     

    Ok so the point is we love to travel, and despite our hectic schedules, we make it work.. and have time to spare. I get bored easily and am constantly trying to find things to do fill up my day, and since mainly I love being a hospitalist that has been work. But lately, maybe I’m having a quarter life crisis I’m wondering if there’s something else out there… like children! and this may be because my sister had a baby, and I— who has never even picked up a baby before— fell in love with this baby. Granted, the baby is damned cute, and very well behaved, I mean what baby sleeps through 3 restaurant meals, poops once a day, and literally does not cry unless she really needs something. That being said, the job of taking care of her, did not look easy… ATC feedings, diapers etc, but the joy of being around her for me (who didn’t have to do any of the actual hard work, i just got to play with her) was amazing! And not really anything I ever experienced before.

    … So I really started thinking about it. And I’ve narrowed it down to two dilemmas.. or a tale of two possible regrets..

    Will I regret having kids?

    Will I regret not having kids? (especially later, when I’m no longer able to have them)

    Or will neither outcome happen and maybe I can just be happy in both scenarios.

    Or maybe I will be unhappy in both scenarios for different reasons? (worst case scenario)

    So I did what I always do: which is research the hell out of this on the internet… and found that I could not relate to most of the articles out there.. because we’re in just a different socio-economic status than the average person.

    I googled “Do Doctors regret having children?”

    Not surprisingly, no articles showed up =(

    But then I saw the recent WCI post, and on the classic  “stupid doctor mistakes” and one of the cynical comments was about children and including them in the mistakes!!!

    So.. I ask the question… and I know everyone is different, but maybe there are some like-minded individuals out there, that have already been in my situation, and now retired doctors without kids.. what is your life like? do you regret it? or like me, were you unsure, but took the plunge into parenthood?

    Any insight would be helpful.

    Jessi

     

    since this is a financial website, I’m not sure if I should include my financial situation for accuracy?

    since residency

    bought a condo immediately during residency, during height of market in june 2008, only to see it crash — yes stupid doctor mistake, but I lived in it, and then my dad lived in it, and we’ve had it rented every since.. so making money on it now.. and ten years into the mortgage.

    6 years out from residency

    student loans paid year one – were only 60K, so it wasn’t difficult

    bought house year 2 in 2012 — this was at the very LOW of the market, probably rock bottom, but it was probably more house than we need (stupid doctor mistake two)  on a lake in orlando.. however, it brings me great joy to swim in every day (yes with the gators), but jumbo mortage at a rate of 3.87, 30 year fixed.. and now the market has bounced back so house is worth more than what we originally bought it for, no intention of ever selling as I love where we live.

    2013- current… have worked like a crazy person, contribute the max to all retirement accounts, 401ks, roth iras, and hsas, and have a taxable account that i put whatever else is in there.. i try not to buy anything that we can’t afford, and if I want something, I just work extra to pay for it.

    2017 – did a whole house remodel which set me back 268K, but my husband is a gourmet chef, and we host a lot of dinner parties and he really needed that miele range, and subzero (stupid doctor mistake)

    2017 – bought a boat — i’m not sure if this counts as a stupid doctor mistake, since we did delay buying it for five years since having this house.. and actually, it has been a lot of fun using it, and learning how to surf (injuries notwithstanding)

    according to all the spread sheets, we’re on our way to FI, and if I keep working like I do, we can probably reach it sooner… that being said I’ve been letting a lot of things go that haven’t been bringing me a lot of joy or that I’ve reached maximal reward from.

    For example, this year, I gave up the chairman of medicine position —> it was just no longer fun, having to counsel doctors older than me, dealing with risk management, and the pains of credentialing 600 physicians, I feel I had learned as much as I could from this…

    I’m also giving up one of my full-time hospitalist jobs. With the VA. There is a lot of bureaucracy there, and they don’t value efficiency, which is one of my core strengths. (they are now requiring 12 hrs in-house shifts, and for someone that can finish their work in 4 hours, the other 8 hours is absolute torture, yes I can do other stuff there like plan my vacations, and write my book, but the struggle to sit in my office for that long, started to make it feel like a prison).

    I also gave up any extraneous moonlighting that was not enjoyable.. like night shifts or weekends.

    So.. I went from four jobs.. to one part time job, and then moonlighting options as I see fit and when I want to do them.

    and for a workaholic.. this has kind of been torture, but literally only happened less than a month ago. Actually I gave notice to the VA on my 36th birthday.

    Anyway, I’m hoping this “free time” will 1) help me make sense of this motherhood decision (which is the point of this post)

    2) allow me to finish a book I’ve been writing in a all of my spare time.

    3) let me explore potential business possibilities outside of medicine, and use that MBA that I earned

     

    Ok now I’m done!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    #71826 Reply
    Vagabond MD Vagabond MD 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 01/21/2016

    I did not read the novel 😉 but suffice to say, children are very expensive and demanding of time, both of which will reduce the quality and quantity of your travel (and other interests) for the next ten to fifteen years (or more).

    There are great rewards in having and raising children, no doubt, but they are extremely unlikely to show up on your net worth statement or travel schedule.

    I have a good friend who trained a couple years ahead of me, married another doc, they lived in NYC, had a blast, and are now retired in South Carolina. They are foodies and travel quite a bit. He is an avid golfer and competitive runner (but I can still take him 😉 ). If this is the life you want, do not have kids.

    Docs with kids put money in 529 plans in lieu of European travel. They drive minivans and Accords, not fancy European sports cars, and they travel to the beach and to Disney World, when the kids are young. They dine more frequently where they can get a good kids meal, not the Michelin star restaurants. I am exaggerating a bit to make the point, but the picture I paint is quite a bit different from the “no kids” lifestyle that you are currently enjoying.

    "Wealth is the slave of the wise man and the master of the fool.” -Seneca the Younger

    Avatar hightower 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1381
    Joined: 12/07/2016

    Wow, this should win an award for longest first post;)

    Obviously the decision to have kids or not is a very personal one.  I currently don’t have any children.  My wife and I are trying though.  I’m a hospitalist too, but not quite as busy as you.  We travel a fair amount as well, but not to as many exotic places as you.  I do think about how much different life will be IF we end up with a child.  My best friend, who I spend a lot of time with, has a 2 year old and a newborn on the way.  So, I’m pretty familiar with how drastically life changes when kids come around.  You will still be able to travel and work a lot if you want, but it will be different.  You might not want to be as productive anymore.  You might not want to travel as much as you do.

    But, I highly doubt you’ll find anyone who truly “regrets” having children.  They change your life, but they don’t ruin it.  All I ever hear from people I know who have kids is that, yes life is a bit crazy with them around, but they love it and they love their children.

    I really like what WCI has said about having kids.  He basically says you don’t have to change who you are or what you do when you have kids.  Kids can adapt to your life and schedule.  You can travel with them (even go hiking/camping with them), you can still work and have a social life, etc.  So, I personally feel like having kids and being ambitious in the travel and work departments is possible, but will be harder for sure.  Getting on and off a plane will not be a simple matter anymore.  But, you can adapt and get used to it just like anything else.

    Will you regret NOT having kids?  Who knows.  I know some older couples who seem very happy without children.  Can’t predict the future.  But if you feel like having a family would be possibly enjoyable for you, I think it’s worth pursuing.

    Did you come from a big family yourself?

    #71832 Reply
    Liked by EDDOCMOM, hatton1
    Avatar Millenial Doc 
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    This ultimately becomes a very, very personal decision. For us, the question wasnt so much whether to have kids, but how many to have (i.e. 2 vs 3). We  currently have our first who is a year and a half and are still pondering with the question of how many, and I certainly now have uber respect for those couples with 3+ kids (i.e. Dr Dahle).  I have no idea how they do it.

    There are definitely great things about having kids and a lot of aspects that some people may struggle with:

    -Kids are very costly.  My wife and I are both currently full time physicians and we hired a nanny to work 40-50 hours per week.  After the first raise, this is now costing us ~40k/year.  It is a high priority for us to fully fund our kids’ future education so we have been trying to frontload the 529, and soon will have 50k in it.  Then there are all of the other typical, “minor” costs of kids (food, diapers, stollers, etc.).  Does everyone need to hire a nanny or fund their kids eduction? No.  But you can see how quickly some things add up and without kids we may have been able to save an extra 100k+ over the past year and a half.

    -There is an enormous loss of freedom with kids.  Time that I used to spend jogging, reading, napping, etc. is now reserved for specific time periods.  The loss of personal freedom has probably been my biggest adjustment, but I do my best to find time for these things.  Going out to eat with a 1 year old is “possible” but harder because you never know when they will throw a fuss.  Same thing with travel–possible, but not necessarily enjoyable.  I know all of this personal freedom will come back as they get older, but it is something I really struggle with now

    All this said, I love my son more than anything and view the financial and personal sacrifices as an “investment” for the wonderful life that I see with him someday.  I think what you need to ask yourself is how do you picture your ideal life in your 40s, 50s, and 60s.  For me, my ideal life is being involved with all my kids, teaching them, traveling with them, having them as a center piece of my life.  I thought of as a life without kids at those ages as somewhat “empty”–but that’s just me and others may feel different.

    Altogether, my advice would be base your decision on your long-term ideal life, knowing that kids can certainly be more costly and time-consuming in the short term.

    #71833 Reply
    Liked by Drsan1
    Miss Bonnie MD Miss Bonnie MD 
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    Joined: 02/14/2017

    The choice to have kids should have nothing to do with money.

    Sorry, didn’t read the whole post, but if you’re an MD and making anything close to an MD salary, you can def “afford it”.

    Everyone handles kids/parenting different.

    Some will become the “we can’t do anything anymore now” types and others won’t. Up to you. We don’t plan to be the former. We love to travel and eat well (cook and eat out). My fiance works in entertainment and I still plan on taking advantage of free concerts for life.

    "Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time."

    Miss Bonnie MD --> Wealthy Mom MD @ http://wealthymommd.com

    #71836 Reply
    Liked by LizOB
    Donnie Donnie 
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    Since this is a primarily financial site, I doubt anyone will be able to give any advice other than as relates to either (i) the financial impact of having kids or (ii) their personal views on having kids. To point (i), kids are expensive! To point (ii), I like my kids, and I am glad we decided to have them!

    #71837 Reply
    Craigy Craigy 
    Participant
    Status: Spouse
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    Joined: 09/16/2016

    The dink life is nice.

    With a 1 year old, I sort of miss it, but I wouldn’t trade it.

    I would imagine that with your level of income, you could probably afford to outsource a lot of the parenting if you had to.  Daycare, live-in nanny, you name it.  So you can limit the difficulties to an extent.

    In my anecdotal experience, the old people with no kids are a little lonely.  Or very lonely.  Is it worth having kids just for that?  I don’t know.

    I think it’s near 100% that you will, from time to time, have some regret at not having children.  Again, avoiding regret probably isn’t the best reason to have kids.

    But for you, it’s now or never.

     

    LEVEL 1 WCI FORUM MEMBER.

    #71838 Reply
    Liked by Zaphod
    Avatar AlexxT 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 01/13/2016

    I am very happy to have had 2 kids.  I wish we had more.   I loved to travel and had hobbies, all of which took a big hit after having kids.  But we are starting to travel now with the kids.  Twice as expensive but more fun.  Anyway, I would rather stay home with the kids that travel without them.

    I would say that having kids became our very demanding and time consuming hobby, which pushed out much of everything else that I used to do.  The hobbies and pastimes are still there, but get very little attention.  But I’m happy with that trade-off.

    However, it’s going to depend on the parents and the kids.  We have been very lucky so far ( but we haven’t quite entered the teen years yet ).

    Having a kid is like having a dog, except you can’t leave them home alone and eventually they learn to talk back and argue.

    For a decision like this, I would try to imagine how much I might regret having kids if I did, and how much I might regret not having them if I didn’t.  See which feels worse.  Act accordingly.

    To answer your specific question:  I don’t think that missing out on 10-14 years of travel is such a big deal.  You can catch up later.  Also, so far, I don’t find that having kids has been all that expensive.   On our salaries, high chairs and toys,  and food and diapers were trivial expenses.  The big expenses have been day care( 2k per month per kid in this HCOL area), private schools (optional; around here 25k/yr  for k-8, 45k/yr for high school. prices rise each year) ,  summer camp ( 3-5k per kid per summer ), and the 529 plans, but fortunately we have been able to afford those as well without messing up our financial plans.

    #71840 Reply
    Avatar Kamban 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 08/01/2016
    2018 (yes, I already have these planned out — argentina, italy, tazmania/australia)

    Click to expand…

    Just a small quibble, Tasmania is a part of Australia though most people think it is a separate entity. I am just kidding. I have been there.

     

    Having a kid changes your life. Suddenly the most important person in your life is that kid. It is a joy to watch them grow up. As they grow into teenagers they can really test your patience. But you see your earlier life and behavior through their eyes.

    As two high earning professionals you will always have sufficient money even with kids. Enough for your retirement, their education and their expenses. As you stated, we are not the average Joes.

    As to travel the biggest restriction is that during school years you can travel only during their holidays. Those will be expensive. But still worth a sacrifice. I have taken my daughter since age 5 to Peru, Ecuador, Canada many times, India, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Czech rep, Spain, Russia, Finland, Australia ( and yes Tasmania too), Tanzania, Kenya and now planning a S. America or Cambodia trip. These have been a great education for her that no books or Disney trips will replace.

    There is no right or wrong answer. But my life ( and my wife’s too) has changed dramatically with the birth of our daughter. And we are so grateful for that.

    #71841 Reply
    Liked by RocDoc, Zaphod
    djohnflatfeecfp djohnflatfeecfp 
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    Carve out a week, weekend, or even a long day and take your niece.  She how it feels for an extended period without mom around.

     

    I didn’t read the whole thing either, but does your husband want a kid?

     

    I have two teenage sons and will definitely miss them in a few years when they are off in college.  I couldn’t imagine not having kids, but my wife and I wanted kids without hesitation.  Fortunately, we waited until we were married a few years before we had our first.

    Accumulate Wealth, Not Fees - http://forwardthinkingwm.com/

    Daniel P. Johnson, CFP - [email protected]

    #71846 Reply
    Avatar jessikaur 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 11/01/2017

    Ok.

    1) Sorry for the long initial post. I got carried away. And apparently have a lot of time on my hands.

    2) Thank you for all of the solicited advice. =) Believe it or not, it not only cracked me up, but actually WAS helpful.

    Individual responses… coming soon.

    #71847 Reply
    Avatar jessikaur 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 90
    Joined: 11/01/2017

    I know.. and we have Disney right down the street since we live in Orlando. But it looks like a damn nightmare to go there. I need to start hanging out with parents who make parenting LOOK fun.

    When we’re traveling about, I see parents with kids and can’t help but think, “Thank God, that’s not me.”

    We’re foodies, and actually food and wine is one of my greatest joys (don’t worry, I’m not obese, I don’t think I could face my patients if I were). That being said, my husband is a basically a gourmet chef, so most of our cooking is at home anyway… having a child would not throw a monkey wrench in that.

     

    #71848 Reply
    Phoenixdown99 Phoenixdown99 
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    You sound freaking awesome 🙂 ! I’m a 33 YO female MD, currently no kids, unmarried. I do plan to have a family at some point, but, like you, I love to travel (I’m into scuba and mountaineering), and hope to continue to do so later in life once I do have a family. Do you think your folks or in laws can watch the kids while you guys go travel sometimes? That was what I was hoping…

    By the way, how was Sri Lanka? I am thinking about going there this Spring, Vs. Uganda/Rwanda.

    Side note: I recently ran into a family of six (parents and 4 kids between the ages of 5 and 10 or so) travelling from Alaska to the tip of South America for a year. They were skiing on Mt. Hood in Portland. Why not?

    #71849 Reply
    Liked by Zaphod
    Zaphod Zaphod 
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    however, it brings me great joy to swim in every day (yes with the gators)

    Click to expand…

    Why on earth?! Thats crazy, you didnt spring for the pool?

    I think you’re overall doing great, and its impossible to know what you woulda coulda shoulda. Its incredibly different with or without kids, you may want it in a few years, problem is the clock ofc. I’ve thought how easy and fun it would be without the kiddos, but then again you have those amazing moments all the time where you’re stupid lovestrucked over banal life and how you feel theyre the most adorable person in the world (they do become teenagers though). Both are great, just very different and no one here can decide or should sway that for you. You have to trust yourself and your relationship, goals, etc…and then take a leap.

    #71850 Reply
    Avatar jessikaur 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 90
    Joined: 11/01/2017
    Wow, this should win an award for longest first post;) . Did you come from a big family yourself?

    Click to expand…

    If there’s such an award.. I will take it. =) And I’m finally becoming literate on this site and able to respond to actual specific people instead of just randomly posting and not making sense.

    Big family.. well, I’m Indian, so I have a big extended family in India, but I don’t really keep up with them.

    Nuclear family included 2 sisters (one older, now a dermatologist in cali), one younger works for apple, found it soul-less, going back to school to be a psychologist ) yes I am the middle child, but no Jan Brady syndrome. And my father was a taxi driver, here in the US, but an architect back in India.. My mother left him to go back to India back when I was in second grade — she did not enjoy the American lifestyle so much.

    So effectively, I was raised by dad, who was a workaholic, spent most of my days studying or reading, and hanging with my sisters or two cousins who lived near by.

    I’m not gonna say we raised ourselves… but my dad was not present because he had to go to work, which he did for 6 days of the week for 20 years to get us through.. (goes back to the post from WCI where he discussed not being present). I have never been upset with my dad for missing a badminton game, in fact, I preferred he not be there because he was so embarrassing. Just saying.

     

     

    #71851 Reply
    Liked by hightower, Zaphod

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