Choosing to have kids in today’s world is a huge and heavy question, especially if you’re not sure if you want to start a family.

After all, having kids will change your life completely: kids cost money, they cost time and they change who you hang out with and how you spend your time.

On the other hand, raising a family is a beautiful experience and is a way to continue your legacy, as well as build a life devoted to loving your little ones.

Okay, so how on Earth do you decide if you want to have a baby and start a family? This is a complicated question, and I’ve put together exactly the questions to consider, regardless of which way you’re feeling about it.

(Also, you can probably tell that I started a family and have a kid, but I’m going to be totally neutral in explaining the points below)

Think about if you are ready for a total life change by having kids

No one told me what a drastic life change having a baby would be. I was not aware of the total and complete 180-degree turn my life would take by having kids, and in the early days of having my first child, I wondered if I had made the right decision.

Having a baby and starting a family can be shocking, and I mean that. Before having a baby, I did literally anything I wanted to. I traveled the world, went to bed late, stayed out at bars with friends, took trips on whims and rolled out of bed late on weekends.

Having a family wipes this all out of your life (unless you have caretakers who are taking care of your kids so you don’t have to). If you’re on the fence about having a family, consider that for each child, between 0-18 years, they are your responsibility and you can’t just “do whatever” without considering them.

Consider that kids cost a lot of money

I told Dan originally that babies cost a lot of money, and when we were pre-child people, he didn’t truly believe me.

“No, listen,” I said. “You have to have baby food, baby clothes, babysitting, baby daycare or childcare, baby doctor appointments, baby medications…” and the list goes on. After we really had that baby, he believed me.

My point is that having a baby will change your finance completely, especially when you start childcare. In fact, childcare is the biggest financial burden for most American families, and that’s because it is borderline unaffordable for so many (especially if you have two or three kids in daycare or private preschool).

CreditKarma reported that the cost of having a child from birth to age 17 in the US is upwards of $200,000 over those years. And that’s a modest figure!

Basically, ask yourself if you are ready to take this financial dive (and when) by having a family, and if that spend is worth it to you. The question is would you rather your $200,000+ per child go elsewhere (that’s up to you).

Remember that kids are really tiring

Whether it’s one child, or three, having kids is really tiring. The way I phrase it is, when kids are small, they can’t do anything by themselves. They can’t eat, drink, fall asleep, go anywhere or play, without you by their side.

Because of this, your time as a parent gets devoted to these things. It’s your mornings, your evenings and your weekends that revolve around your kids.

It’s also (this was not advertised to me) the middle-of-the-night wake-ups because of teething or sickness, or just because they can’t sleep or had a bad dream that will affect your relaxing nights.

All parents are tired. It’s a question of how tired, on a scale from 1 to 10. You have to decide if this is for you (and I innocently didn’t know about this aspect of having kids, so I missed out on the fear of it).

Ask yourself if you want to build a legacy

In my family, there’s a lot of talk about continuing the family name, and building our family tree. In fact, my mom’s side of the family is joyfully in tune with the extended family tree, which goes back six generations and is becoming wider and longer every day with the births of new babies.

Some people want to build a family legacy, and for others, it’s not important. For me, I knew I wanted to have kids and then see my kids have kids, and become a grandparent and eventually, a great-grandparent. I just knew that this was for me and it would bring me so much happiness in my life.

Just the other day, I was watching a Netflix show in which the main character sees family photos on a mantle in a living room. She had been on the fence about having kids, but seeing generations of family photos at her best friend’s house hit her at her heart and changed her mind.

If you want to build a family tree and extend your legacy, or your legacy with your partner, then starting a family and having kids might be for you.

Be honest about if you are a “kids” person

There are some people (and I know some) who either don’t like kids, or find trouble connecting with them. For those people, children bother them, or don’t really bring them joy when they’re around them.

That is fine. Kids are not for everyone.

I’m the opposite. I love seeing a cute baby (for me, this is like seeing a cute puppy). I like talking to toddlers who are learning about the world. I’ve worked at summer camps with three-year-olds when I was in high school, and I’ve worked as a camp counselor for elementary school-aged kids as well. I’ve always “connected” with kids and I find them interesting.

It was no surprise, then, that I wanted to have a baby (at the right time for me and Dan, of course). But having kids is not for everyone, especially if you very simply “don’t like kids.”

Determine if you want a lifetime of other “parent friends”

Unless you’re part of a circle of friends of yours who all are choosing to not have kids, chances are that most adults have kids. This is what people have done for thousands of years: start families so that there can continue to be people in the world. And it has worked.

Given this, it’s a fact that the average adult has children: maybe between 1 to 3 of them. The minority of people who are staunchly against starting families and having a baby are still currently in the minority.

What changed for me when I became a parent was that I connected better with other parents, and even re-connected with friends from high school and college who had kids. I felt like I finally understood them and their lifestyles, and they understood mine now, too.

Because we are parents, we make new parent friends. We socialize with our kids, and we connect with parents who have kids roughly the same age as ours. We make plans to go to the zoo, and we hang out at birthday parties, and at night, we all need babysitters if we want to go out. This is the life we’ve chosen.

If this sounds like it is for you (at least while your kids are young), then maybe you’re the type who’ll start a family.

Think hard about your future and your older years

I think a big vision for me is growing old and having my kids around — not even physically by my side, but a phone call, a text or a Whatsapp group away.

It would be so sad if I were aging, hopefully not alone, but without any kids to come visit me or give me a call to say, “I love you.” I envision my later years and I want to be surrounded by my kids and their kids on holidays and on my birthday, and on Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving.

Picture yourself, and think hard, on what your 80-year-old self would want. If it’s hanging out with your spouse, or by your lonesome, still living that “do whatever-I-want no-strings-attached lifestyle,” then maybe starting a family was never for you.

But if it’s living a richly-filled life of love from a growing family, and years of memories with your children growing up and making you proud, then maybe you’re not so “on the fence” about the decision to have kids.