At what point did you know you wanted to be child free?

I’m writing this looking for advice and to hear other’s experiences. I’m in a serious long term relationship. I’m 24F.

I have a very good career that I take pride in. When I first started dating my boyfriend, I thought that I wanted children. Now I go back and forth every day: 80% of me doesn’t want children and 20% is a maybe. I need to figure this out because I know it would be a deal breaker for my partner and as much as I love him, I wouldn’t want to waste his time as a proposal is probably on the horizon within the next year.

The past year has changed my mind as I have spent a lot of time babysitting to make extra money and I have also spent a great deal of time with my partner’s 5 year old nephew. I have noticed that MANY children these days that I will babysit for have various special needs such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, anger issues, Down syndrome, etc. I find the children without these special needs are much easier to care for, but if you have children then you are completely gambling whether or not they will have any special needs or disabilities. This sounds HORRIBLE, but if your child does have special needs then you are potentially giving up your career to care for them and you might be swimming in medical bills or providing constant care.

Additionally, spending time with my partner’s nephew has showed me that kids will need your constant attention, they are always nagging at you to play with them, even waking up the entire house at 5 AM to be played with. This has made me feel like I would lose my entire sense of identity and free time if I had children. I wouldn’t be able to work out everyday or get my nails done if I wanted, based on the impression and conversations I get from other moms.

I am terrified at the thought of being pregnant and giving birth. I have felt this way since I was a child and now in my adulthood I am surprised that it has not gone away in the slightest. When I picture my future, I don’t really picture any kids in it.

My partner wants children before I am 30 because he is older than me. That means I would only have 5-6 years left to myself. Honestly, I have never even been on a trip abroad. This terrifies me that I would lose myself and my identity within 5-6 years. If I don’t want a kid before 30, my partner says to tell him now.

So….how did you come to the realization that you wanted to be child free? How else should I explore whether or not I want kids besides spending a lot of time with them like I do now? Please please please give me advice or tell me about your own experience.

At what point did you know you wanted to be child free?