A Year-By-Year Guide to Your 30s

by Yvette Manes
Originally Published: 
A kid with a straw fedora walking toward parents in their 30s; a father resting his hand on the moth...

30: When you turn 30, you realize that age is just a number. Thirty pretty much feels like 29, which felt like 28, which felt like 27…. The truth is that 30 feels like 22 with a mortgage payment.

31: When you are 31, you worry that you didn’t take as many risks or have as much fun as you should have in your 20s. You talk about taking a month off and backpacking Europe, or diving off of a cliff in Santorini. Then you finish changing that diaper, hand the baby to your husband, and go wash your hair for the first time in a week.

32: When you are 32, you decide that you can totally still pass for 25. You take your 1-year-old out in the jogging stroller and do sit-ups while he naps. Your body begins to look better than it did in high school. Your 30s are AWESOME! Holy crap? When was my last period?

33: When you are 33, your baby is four days overdue, and you haven’t seen your feet or bikini area in 15 weeks. You wonder if you can trust your husband to do some mom-scaping, or if you should just go to the hospital in all your 1970s glory. Your mom keeps dusting the nursery and your 2-year-old is strewing train tracks around your living room. You really couldn’t care less about your natural birth plan because Pitocin, followed by an epidural and a third-degree episiotomy sound freaking delicious right now. Get. This. Baby. Out. Of. Me.

34: When you are 34, you accomplish the biggest feat of your life. You take your 1-year-old and your 3-year-old to Disney World. Mission accomplished.

35: When you are 35, you realize that you haven’t really talked to your husband in months. You both have been working hard and raising a family. Feeling tired and disconnected, you work up the courage to leave the kids with your in-laws for a week and head to Cancun. In Cancun, you hang out at the swim-up bar, laugh and get drunk on Patrón margaritas. You dress up and dance under the stars to a live band. Your husband surprises you with a boat tour through the mangroves and a snorkeling excursion. You dance on the tables at Carlos’n Charlie’s and have a romantic dinner at Lorenzillo’s. You come home tan, happy and in love.

36: When you are 36, your oldest starts kindergarten and your baby is in preschool. There are no more bottles in the sink, or rotten diaper sausages to drag out to the trash can. The crib is nicely stored in the attic and your nieces and nephews are making use of all of those outgrown baby clothes. For the first time in years, you are 100 percent sure that you are done having kids. Your biological clock has apparently turned off and it’s smooth sailing, my friend! In your head, you start mapping out that family road trip to Graceland. You are calculating how long your 3-year-old can hold her bladder when suddenly you find a rogue pacifier stuck behind a couch cushion—and then you hear it, from way down deep inside…tick, tick, tick.

37: When you are 37, you get an invitation to your 20-year high school reunion. You consider going for about a minute. But then you weigh the pros and cons of leaving the kids with your in-laws for the weekend, boarding your 1-year-old dachshund—the cure to last year’s bout of baby fever—and buying the ridiculously overpriced dinner tickets, just to be in the same room with half the people you hide from your Facebook feed. You call your best friend who agrees that you should forgo your choice of prime rib or salmon and book a weekend girl’s trip instead.

38: When you are 38, you start to freak out about 40. It’s not here yet, but it’s on its way (like a freaking freight train!). You start to notice the lines on your forehead and your old-lady hands. When did I get old-lady hands?! You keep thinking that the ’90s was ten years ago, and can’t believe it’s been 20 years since you started college. At 38 you realize that life is short, and you start to finally let go of those things you’ve been holding on to—those feelings, those worries, those fears, those people—which make you unhappy and no longer serve you.

39: When you turn 39, you realize that age is just a number. Yes, that number is only 12 months away from starting with a 4, but you aren’t freaking out about it. The truth is that 39 still feels like 22, but with experience. You look in the mirror and decide you can totally still pass for 35. You unwrap the high-waist bikini you ordered online and place it in the suitcase next to your husband’s swim trunks. You make sure your kids are still packed, and you all pile into the cab that’s headed to the airport. Next stop: Santorini.

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