Having a baby entirely eliminates your life and replaces it with a different one. And you can't undo it. You cannot spend all your time on a project now - you have to change your priorities. This is not an option, and unfortunately it's not something that happens magically by itself, either. Like maintaining a marriage, it's something you choose to do because not to do so is unthinkable.
The payoff will come a decade from now - or two, and it will consist of knowing (1) you made a good human being, and (2) you yourself are so much more mature and focused that the rest of your life will go much better. Just as long as you choose to have the right outcome - because #2 can also consist of your being a broken, bitter person who feels they trashed their life.
There is nothing like parenting. It's the headiest mixture of ebullient joy and sheer terror that's ever existed. My kids are 16 and 11, they're both smarter and more capable than all the rest of humanity combined, and all in all I think we've succeeded - but it hasn't been at all easy.
Would I undo it, given a time machine? No. I was a callow idiot until I had kids. Now I'm a more seasoned idiot, but I have a lot more gumption to do something that might fail. Because having kids guarantees one thing - you're going to fail. At lots of different things. And then you're going to keep right on going, past the failure, and make the best of things, because you have no choice at all.
Ultimately, it hardens you to risk. I have to recommend it.
> "Having a baby entirely eliminates your life and replaces it with a different one."
A good illustration of that:
People you've called "mom" and "dad" your whole life now become "grandma" and "grandpa". Your spouse becomes "mama" or "dada". Having a kid changes the way you relate to everybody else in your life. It shifts your focus from how someone relates to you to how they relate to your kid.
Similarly, every decision you make is now evaluated in terms of the effects it'll have on your kid, often before you even bother to evaluate how it affects you.
Agreed. There is no way I could explain to my past-self how parenting would change my life. In fact if I did a good job of explaining it then I would have been terrified of becoming a parent ('what do you mean I can't go to a bar any night of the week till 5am!?').
However there is nothing to be afraid of. Priorities shift. Things that were important to you beforehand, things you thought defined your sense of self, or you couldn't live without - no longer matter as much.
You find a new focus, a new center. Until that point you're still the center of your own universe in a large sense. After a baby is born you're in orbit around that center.
Failure in (1) means that you made a not so good, or a not so balanced human being. I know parents of my parents' age who ultimately feel that they've failed because their sons and daughters got into drugs and crime, and destroyed the potential of those short lives.
Despite trying their hardest, things just didn't work out, and since the children are adults in their own right, the parents can only give love and hope that their children learn to make a life of their own.
Well - that's true, actually. There are lots and lots of little payoffs along the way. Just having people who literally think you're indestructible and all-capable will do wonders for your ego even if you know they're wrong. (My son is still a little shocked when he finds something I didn't know.)
I have to say, though, leaving the hospital with our first one, honestly - my first thought was: "Holy crap, they're actually letting us leave? Without a license or something? I don't know the first thing about parenting!!"
And I sure didn't. But I learned.
One thing I can't recommend enough, though, to anybody with kids - take all the time off everything else you possibly can. Spend that quality time with them. You get one chance to get their entire life right, and it's really pretty easy - just ignore everything else, even if just a little while every week. (That's a joke - it's never easy. You just had a baby. Suddenly there are all kinds of expenses you never even imagined, and you know that sooner or later, they're going to need braces and a college education.... You've never needed money so bad!)
But seriously - establish a good personal relationship while they still think you're omnipotent, and you will thank your past self a million times about fifteen years down the road.
Your essay made me consider a very interesting aspect to parenting: Starting a family is the ultimate entrepreneurial endeavor. It's arguably the only business where the potential gains and risks are unmeasurable.
I have a one year old kid, he is learning to walk, so funny. With a baby you learn what the meaning of "responsibility", and you see a human being (the only really interesting topic) evolving, building it's self. You also get nightmares in the first days. Do one get nightmares when founding a start-up?
There's a two- or three-week period, usually around the six month mark, when your baby can sit up unaided but can't yet crawl. During this time, you can put the baby down on an activity blanket (supervised, obviously) and enjoy maybe five or ten minute contiguous stretches of uninterrupted time to do stuff.
Note: activities like preparing a meal and straightening up the place tend to take priority over developing a startup.
A few suggestions to help make things easier for you:
* "Attachment parenting" early on pays off hugely in more independent, more emotionally secure children later. Invest in a Trekker , Snugli  or other baby harness that lets you carry the baby facing inwards or outwards and frees up your arms to do other stuff.
* Seriously consider having the baby sleep in your bed with you, especially if you/your spouse are breastfeeding.
* Seriously consider breastfeeding. Once established (usually takes a few weeks to get really comfortable with it), it's so much healthier, easier and more convenient than bottle feeding that I can't understand why anyone who has the option wouldn't take it. (Disclosure: I'm male, but my spouse agrees 100%.)
* Accept and embrace the fact that from now on, all your plans are contingent. Learn to build big buffers around all your scheduled activities. Get in the habit of keeping a utility bag with you at all times.
* Don't waste your money on a change table. You will change that baby's diaper wherever you need to do it. (We've changed our baby's diaper in the trunk of our car.)
* Don't forget that you and your spouse had reasons to be together before the baby was born. As soon as the baby is old enough, get back into the habit of going on dates and otherwise spending time together. Don't miss opportunities to let your spouse know how much you cherish them. A little act of kindness at a crucial moment can radically transform your family dynamics for the better.
I'm sure I'll think of more, but that seems to be a good place to start. As always in anything to do with children, YMMV.
> Seriously consider having the baby sleep in your bed with you, especially if you/your spouse are breastfeeding.
We've got our little one in a cradle next to the bed and my wife is breastfeeding. This is just as convenient, if not moreso than having him in the bed. I sleep like a rock and I'm concerned about squishing the poor guy.
> Don't waste your money on a change table. You will change that baby's diaper wherever you need to do it. (We've changed our baby's diaper in the trunk of our car.)
Our changing table has a ton of room for storage and can become a dresser for the kid later in life. Our house isn't that big (1750sq ft), so we take him to his room to be changed. It saves a lot of bending over and I think my back is better for it. Additionally, it keeps all the necessary supplies at hand. We have changed him in the trunk, as well. I think it's a rite of passage...
> Get in the habit of keeping a utility bag with you at all times.
This. Always have baby supplies (and parent supplies) with you.
As for the attachment parenting, we have a mobi-wrap and a baby bjorn. I use the hell out of the bjorn, but the mobi-wrap is a bit of a hassle (it's a giant strip of black fabric). My wife, however, loves the mobi. Find some sort of baby carrier that works for you, they're indispensable.
EDIT: Also, look for a crib that can be adjusted over time. We picked one up that goes from crib, to deeper crib, to twin sized bed, so our son can potentially use it for years to come.
For the vast majority of parents, it doesn't matter. If you're worried about it, invest in a baby scale and weigh regularly (keep in mind that babies lose weight immediately after birth, though.) Doctors can give you a chart for normal weight gain.
For a minority of parents, the child will be "failure to thrive" and for that you will need to measure intake, but the child will also be on special high calorie formula anyway. So at this point the advantage is irrelevant.
"Measuring" is a really stupid reason to deny your kid the other benefits of breast feeding. However, there are many viable reasons not to breastfeed, such as it's just not working, or the mother needs to work/have a life, or it's painful, etc.
Agree here. Bending over to change does your back in. And when the poop has gone up their back or down their leg, you want a surface you can bleach.
Also agree on sleeping separate - we put ours in the nursery after three nights. He sleeps 7pm - 8am now (at 8 months) and is very happy. Bizarely, tired babies don't sleep well (ie don't keep them up in the hope they'll sleep longer). Put them to bed before they get overtired. If you share a room you will wake each other and you'll all be tired and cranky.
Sleep separate. We are on baby #2 and #1 slept in our bed for almost 12 mos. It was terrible as the baby got bigger an would move around. No one got sleep. Sleep deprivation is bad for parenting and marriages. If you knew your child's school bus driver was operating on 3-4 hours sleep you'd pitch a fit, why should parents do the same?
#2 is sleeping in her room in crib and we have a twin bed in that room and we take turns sleeping in that room with her. She starting to stay asleep at night for longer periods and is almost 6 mos old. She also has terrible reflux since she was born and would vomit up even breastmilk so she is on a special formula.
My experience is that sleeping together makes things easier at the beginning when it does calm them but it's harder to break it the later you leave it so you're just trading off early pain for later pain. We took the pain early and it's worked out well enough that we'll likely do the same the next time round.
Our experience was great. She slept with us for a month or so (breastfeeding). Then we felt we'd sleep a little better if we put her in her own bed right next to us, so we did that (in the same room) for a few months. Being in the same room makes it easier because you don't have to go check on her in another room. Then at 6 months or so we put her in her own room. It all went totally smooth.
Don't be afraid to sleep with the baby if you feel like it, and don't be afraid to put them in their own bed if you feel like it. It's ok. Also, putting them in their own bed in the same room for a little while gives you a lot of advantages (easy to check on them without getting out of bed etc.)
Basically, just do what you feel like and if it isn't working try something else.
We didn't have early or late pain. Our older son was an epic sleeper, our younger son not so much; but each of them decided in turn that they wanted to move into their own room, which we happily obliged.
Yes. If there is one universal truth in the land of parents with newborns, it's that you'll get a sore back. Especially when you have to spend hours leaning over as they hold your fingers learning to walk. I'm now friends with my physio!
Yeah I would highly suggest investing in a video monitor. because you're so paranoid as a new parent, you'll be tempted to run in and check on the little one for every little noise. Don't wake a sleeping baby ;) the video monitor will really help that.
We actually have two changing tables in the house. One upstairs and one downstairs. Last thing you want is trying to change a kid on the floor who's starting to twist and turn and has a really poopy diaper.
Everyone we know who used "attachment" techniques around bedtime had long-term issues with their childrens' sleeping habits.
We let both our girls (now 1 & 3) "cry it out." It was quite hard for a couple of weeks, but they both now have very good sleeping schedules. And, as far as I can tell, no psychological damage!
Sleep with your baby if you find it emotionally gratifying, but I'm skeptical that there's any significant benefit. It didn't work for us - my wife still wakes up occasionally from disturbing "baby in the bed" dreams.
I have the exact opposite experience; everyone who didn't use attachment has screaming wrecks at ~2 years and we're getting sleeping through the night. Sample size roughly five children, utterly unrandomly chosen.
It really seems to boil down to a big ol' "I dunno" from science, which is at least a bound on the virtues/dangers of the approach if nothing else.
As someone who is actually relatively interested in science, I have noticed that it isn't very helpful when it comes to parenting, except in a few cases which tend not to be very surprising ("hey, don't smoke around your baby"). The studies are so small and there are so many confounding factors I almost wonder why they try.
I'm satisfied with our outcome, nobody got exhausted and we're in a pretty good position now, but who really knows why?
> No. Everybody gets less sleep and for small babies there's a serious risk of death.
I've heard this but I don't buy it. People have been sleeping this way for millions of years. Normally I believe parents are plenty in tune with their baby's presence not to roll over on them. If you're a heavy drinker then yeah you should probably go sleep on the couch. But as a parent you often have to make choices with conflicting information. If you want the best of both worlds get a co-sleeper.
"People have been sleeping this way for millions of years".
First off mattresses and the way we sleep now are only a few hundred years old. Second we don't have detailed statistics for infant deaths until very recently so we don't know how many babies were dying a long time ago and for what causes.
We put our daughter's crib in our room, which I think helped tremendously in getting her to sleep through the night.
When she started climbing out of her crib we put a foam mattress on the floor and let her sleep on that (which we moved to her bedroom). This also helped with comforting her at night when she woke up, as we would lie down next to her. Gradually she stopped waking up at night, and if she did, she would go back to sleep by herself.
IMO, getting your baby to sleep through the night and going to bed without too much fuss pays off. I'm no child psychologist, but I think by assuring them that you're there whenever they need you, they become more secure when you're not around. Being able to have a full night's rest is imperative to functioning well the next day.
Once you have children, you tend to start strategizing your sleep schedule.
That's pretty much what we did and it worked out very well. For the first 6 months we had the baby in his crib in our room and we'd comfort him when needed. Apparently before 6 months they don't know they can use crying as a power so you cannot 'spoil' them. After then we moved him to his room and we would tend to him less.
This is not true. First everybody gets more sleep not less. After the first month or two if you are nursing you can just hook up and go back to sleep.
The risk of SIDS is lower with co-sleeping, and the risk of suffocation or those other horror stories is minuscule. And on top of that they typically only happen with parents who are morbidly obese or on medication (not just illegal drugs, but things like cold medication).
So the prudent thing is not to cosleep it if you took anything, but otherwise it's better.
Also: everyone will have advice: you will learn to ignore most of it. Particularly advice by your parents. They had babies in a time when there were different priorities. So you'll have to learn to find your own way, trust your instincts, talk to other parents you like/admire.
You can safely ignore most advice by most people :)
(ps: my tip: you can't spoil a baby, not until they're, say, 1 year old (then discipline becomes part of the game. You can never kiss/hold/love them enough or give them too much attention at that age.)
My son is two weeks old by now, and the nurses at the hospital all said that a mother won't crush her child in bed. Apparently women have some kinds of instincts at work here.
Men are a less safe bet, apparently. My sister (a phyisician) said that it can be dangerous if the men are drugged (alcohol, for example).
There is also the sudden infant death syndrome. They still don't know what's going on, but statistics seem to dictate to have the baby sleep in the same room, but separate bed. That doesn't apply for the first four weeks, though - in the first four weeks it is apparently fine to have the baby sleep in the same bed.
Also consider that the sudden infant death thing stems from the cold world of modern medicine. I think in individual cases it is probably OK to not stick to every rule. Some might be more important than others, too. For example smoking in the household seems to be extremely bad.
There are other cultures where sleeping with your baby is the norm, and they don't have issues babies dying left and right due to parents rolling over on them, so I think we need more than anecdotes to say that it's dangerous.
I'm not saying it's a huge problem (I don't know) but it doesn't seem a good idea to risk it:
"There has been a fourfold increase in the rate of infant strangulation and suffocation in the U.S. in the past 20 years, according to a report released today, and the apparent cause (though hardly the definitive one) is the rise in numbers of babies who share beds with their parents." source: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/the-risks-of-s...
It's also true that babies that sleep with their parents hasn't been a cultural thing in the US. I'd say that in the last 20 years, the number of people doing it has increased, which likely accounts for the increase in the numbers of deaths due to it.
Using this same logic, we should have abandoned the adoption of the automobile because as it became more and more commonplace, automobile-related deaths rose as well.
It's a simple trade-off or risk management. In the case of cars we accept the risk in exchange for our lifestyle (going to work, go to buy food etc) so this is an acceptable trade-off for most people (I like to reduce the driving risk by grouping errands, walking when I can etc).
In the case of sleeping with a baby you are taking a risk but for what reward? "cultural thing"? not having to sit up in bed and reach to the crib? this risk/reward ratio is horrible and cannot be compared with the one for cars.
* You can just as easily say that having your baby sleep in a crib runs the risk of you having purchased a 'defective' crib that will kill your baby and spawn a recall.
* You can easily say that putting your baby in another room runs the risk of something happening to your baby in the other room that you either can't hear, or can't get there fast enough to do anything about.
* Your baby can just as easily die from SIDS in a crib as they can in your bed, and SIDS is probably a larger risk than you rolling over on your baby (as long as your don't go to bed after drugs and/or alcohol).
> this risk/reward ratio is horrible
Please tell me what the risk/reward ratio is.
> In the case of cars we accept the risk in exchange for our lifestyle
> (going to work, go to buy food etc) so this is an acceptable
> trade-off for most people
Most people don't do risk/reward ratios. What is the risk/reward ratio of the majority of the populous zooming around in personal automobiles as opposed to pooling resources for effective (and well-maintained) public transit? In many of the places where public transit languished while automobile usage took off it had far more to do with the prestige of owning a car. Using public transit meant you were poor, but having a car (or multiple cars!) was a status symbol. Why do you think that you can find extremely 'pimped out' cars in the drive-ways of houses that are falling apart in places like Detroit? Why do I get teenagers/20-somethings (infrequently) yelling things like, "I got wheels baby! WHoooo!" (or similar) when I'm walking along a busy street? The car is a status symbol a hell of a lot more than it is a utility device (do you really need to drive 5 blocks to the store to pick up beer and drive back home?)
I think in this case anecdotes is a fine data point. While there may not be a statistically significant increase in deaths for babies sleeping in bed with their parents, accidentally killing your kid by rolling over on them would be horrible.
SIDS is less an actual disease, and more a convenient bucket to categorize "babies dying of asphyxiation for reasons we don't understand".
Some of those are becoming better understood (babies can't always tell if they're breathing CO2 rather than oxygen so it turns out they shouldn't sleep on their tummies) but mostly it's a fancy medical term for "we don't know". It's not even a mysterious disease and "no one knows what it's caused by"--we don't even know that a disease exists.
True but that would usually be info you could just pick up from any book. The "ask your pediatrician" disclaimer just makes things seem dangerous that really aren't.
SIDS is 6x higher in families where one or both parents smoke. The lower incidence in the last years might just be because of less people smoking.
Anecdote: our midwife told us that we should put our son to sleep on his back. She also told us that in her working life, she'd first had to tell parents to put their kids to sleep on their belly, years later they were supposed to be safest on their side - there were even little foam triangles sold so the babies would stay put. Now it's on their back.
I'd still say go with what feels right and worry about things that are more important.
We've used all sorts of wearable baby things, and the most I can say is that they're all different. Every one of them will work for some parents and some babies. Long term, after 3 kids and 6 years of the things, the ones that we're using are a mayan style ring sling, an ergo, and a couple of fleece fitted slings that my wife made.
Having a baby changes everything. And it's weird how you can't even imagine it ahead of time.
To answer some of your questions:
- Your ability to produce will go down drastically
- Your priorities will change.
- You will be more tired, and your time will be at a premium.
I think the time issue is the main one. Especially for those reading this. I feel like a lot of hackers like sitting down for hours during your free time to do stuff - personal projects, items of interest, startups. Your free time really disappears with children (at least at early ages).
Not to say it's not rewarding in itself. It's just that it's like being in a cult. You can't understand until you're in it, and you can't imagine things any other way.
So true. Before my kid was born (now 1½ years old), I optimistically thought I'll be able to work at home while baby caring, which turned out to be very naïve idea. It may work with a newborn, but definitely doesn't with a toddler.
In the UK if you apply to your company to work from home it will certainly be dependent on you having separate childcare arrangements.
You're absolutely right though.
My daughter is 16 months old. On a day when I'm looking after her on my own I might get one 45 - 90 minute chunk during the day where I could do something approximating to work (when she sleeps - though you've probably got clearing up, catching your breath and other things in there depending on the mood they've been in).
Other than that you might be able to read and reply to the odd e-mail, check the odd thing or make a quick call or two (so long as you're happy with the possibility of a child shouting in the background) but nothing that could be classified as productive - certainly don't even think about coding being something that might happen.
That all runs from 7am to 7pm. Once they've gone to bed you have to eat, clear up and get ready for the next day before you start thinking about what you want to do. On a good day where they're behaving you can clear up as you go and you're set by 7.30pm, have eaten by 8pm and you're good to go.
On a bad day you've eaten by 9pm and you're dead on your feet. Looking after young kids is full time and I will never question what stay at home mothers do with their day again.
Still wouldn't change it though - I miss having time to do the things I used to do but I'd miss her far more.
It's just that it's like being in a cult. You can't understand until you're in it, and you can't imagine things any other way.
This. I've got four daughters, ranging in age from 3 to 13, and even though the "baby years" are behind me (until the grandchildren come, presumably) things are still not "the other way"-- if I can even remember what that was like.
Oh, goody. You have the teen years ahead of you then. Talk about sheer terror - they're busy learning to be separate adults and they will fail. Ugh. My daughter (16) is the most mature, cautious person I have ever known in my life, and it's still terrifying.
I couldn't have said it better. Priorities do change. In my experience they become more focused out of necessity. Basically, I think you're forced to pick what's important. That's usually the baby and only one other thing: reading a book, programming, working, etc. I'm only talking about from the father's perspective. The child tends to engage the mother more for his/her needs. So women tend to have less flexibility since the child demands more from them. For example, after 1.5 years my wife is just starting to get enough free time to pick up her hobbies again.
Wow, I must have missed this the first time around. And while I haven't had exactly the same experiences (all the surgeries) My son(now 9) with Down Syndrome (and hearing aids for both ears since 18mo, and Asthma, and braces for both ankles, and thyroid dysfunction, and dairy allergies) had his own set of issues and I really relate to that post. He wasn't walking on his own till age 5, still potty training, daily meds for the thyroid/asthma, trying to get him to keep the hearing aids in, etc. On top of that my wife has had five back surgeries and really shouldn't lift him. I still wouldn't trade the experience, I think I am a better person for it.
I have 2 kids under 2. The first one was a shock in terms of the amount of work and sleep deprivation involved. The second wasn't as much of a shock just because we new what to expect. I'm not going to sugar coat this--it more or less destroyed my productivity for quite a while (1st 9 months per child) and this is because of lost sleep, mostly. My children are not great sleepers. Also, my first child had some medical issues that we had to deal with that tied us up at first. I don't see my friends as much, and they are still in the single life which puts some distance between us.
The effect that having this amount, and type, of love in my life was not something I could have understood before I did it. It is truly wonderful, and awesome. As someone who sometimes found the love and loyalty of friends to be less than I would hope, having kids who love me this much is stunning.
Granted, not every dad is as attached as I am, or as involved, so ymmv. Having kids is one of those decisions that I think is hard to make in the sense of, you really don't know how you'll feel when you do it, and your imagination of what it is like is not representative of how you really feel once you have them.
As the father of a daughter of six-years-old, I know where you are coming from. The sleep deprivation, the feeling for the first time in your life that you would gladly give up your own life if it meant saving (God forgive me for saying it) the life of your child.
Even though I've read The Selfish Gene by Dawkins and I know it is all biological evolutionary programming the feelings that are triggered after the birth of your kid are very difficult to put into words.
It also made me realise why my parents made some of the choices they made in their lives. And parenthetically - not saying I agree with them but I didn't have the requisite empathy back then and having a kid gave that to me I think.
Yeah. Both of our kids had (still have) uncurable diseases. (One kidney, one Crohn's.) For five years we did nothing but health maintenance - and by God we succeeded in restoring their health. But you just don't have the option of saying, "No, this is too hard, I'm quitting now." Because by doing that, you're dooming your child - a person who depends on you completely.
This meant that my wife, for example, took five years out of her career after getting her PhD in theoretical physics. She's just now getting reestablished, and that isn't an insignificant part of one's life.
But ... you have no choice. So you man up and do it. Along the way, you think back to the older people you've known in your life - your parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts - and you suddenly realize why they were the way they were.
It's not just the sleep. It's the attention. If your home, you have to give them attention. I won't go into all my details, but in a general way, the first kid, it's easier to find the extra time to work on projects. However, having the second really impacts that. Work all day, come home, dinner, and you have to spend time with the kids. Oh, I love that. But it's not until after 9 that you get a chance to sit down with the kids asleep. But even then, you have other things you have to do, day to day things.
Regardless of the time I spend away from doing anything on the computer, I'm working on my best projects every at home. God, those two... something is in my eye.
I have a little boy who just turned 7 months old yesterday. I spent a good part of the night in the emergency room because he had uncontrolled vomiting.
It's definitely a trip, but I love it. Starting a business around it is hard. I applied to YC, but I'm fairly confident I won't get in because I can't live in California for 3 months.
Contrary to what some other people on here have said, I've actually found more time to work on side projects and my startup. If my son wakes up at 330 and wants food, I'll just stay up then and I have a good 3 hours of uninterrupted work time (he'll usually go back to sleep after the bottle).
Having a little boy motivates me much more than not having one. I want to build a successful company that makes me independently wealthy so at some point, I can spend my time with him and the rest of my family.
I also enjoy being young and having a son (I'm 26). I'll be 43 when he goes to college, which means I'll be young enough I could do another startup then.
>I want to build a successful company that makes me independently wealthy so at some point, I can spend my time with him and the rest of my family.
Sorry for being cynical but this really sounds like a cheap excuse to justify why you cannot spend time with your baby now. I have a 9 monhts old myself and it's pretty obvious that he prefers having a present dad around right now, rather than a possibly wealthy dad in 20 years.
> Having a little boy motivates me much more than not having one. I want to build a successful company that makes me independently wealthy so at some point, I can spend my time with him and the rest of my family.
That's an admirable goal but don't sacrifice too much of your time with the family now chasing after the dream of time with your family later.
Well, that's another reason for wanting my own company: I'm my own boss. I no longer have to get PTO approved, and report to a boss. If I want to play hooky for a day and spend time with him, I can easily do that if I'm independent; not so much if I have a 9-5.
- The first three months just have to be got through. Think of it as a survival test. Lack of sleep, complete change of family dynamics, no sex, no relaxation.
- You might well find yourself resenting the baby. No-one admits to it though. Everyone says "it's magical" and "you love them unconditionally". There are nights when that won't be the case. You and your partner just have to help each other, and don't be afraid to say to them "I just need a couple of hours away from the baby". Obviously you have to do the same for them.
- After three months generally any collicky issues settle down, and they start smiling and really recognizing you. Now it gets good!
- Routine (in my opinion) is everything. We used a modified Gina Ford routine and he was sleeping 7pm - 8am every night by 5/6 months. I'm tired in the evenings but only in the usual way - no more exhaustion.
- It's unbelievable how much you care for them. When you hear their pain cry (the staccato one; not just the usual crying) you drop everything and run to them.
- The biggest change/loss at this stage is the loss of intimacy (and I don't necessarily mean in bed) with my wife. Little things like "shall we go out for dinner on a whim" or "here's breakfast in bed" are very difficult to achieve.
- Spare time is almost non-existant for me, apart for a few evenings when wife and baby visit grandparents. My admiration for people with both startups and babies (and especially side-projects and babies) is enormous.
Can't tell you about the later years (not there yet), but I'm looking forward to just being part of a family with a little mini-me to re-experience the world with.
"I just need a couple of hours away from the baby" -> after the baby has eaten and been awake for an hour or so, take them for a long walk. They'll likely sleep, and your wife gets an hour (or two!) to rest.
Also AMEN to the routine thing. Create a routine. It works. For babies, this worked for us: 1. Sleep. 2. Wake up (they are now rested) and immediately feed. Now they are rested and fed, and will play happily. 3. Play. 4. back to sleep at the FIRST sign of tiredness (do NOT let them become overtired).
I have a 4.5 month old daughter and my life has changed in the following ways:
- every day is much more structured around the baby. Get home from work, feed her, put her to bed at 8:30pm, she wakes up at 6am, feed her, go to work, etc.
-Its like being on-call 24-7 so expect very few opportunities to get in the "flow state" when working on your app/startup.
- I have a full-time job (not related to software) and in the past I planned to quit to work on a startup full-time but my risk tolerance just went to zero as I now worry about having money for the baby. My startup will need to be throwing off at least 2x my current salary before I consider quitting my job.
- Its hard to have your own time to do anything, let alone work on a side-project.
I've got a 4 year old and a 6 year old. All valid things you raise here, and they certainly still apply with mine at their current age.
A positive though, that may not apply to everyone, but certainly applied to me: They make you grow up
Suddenly there are other people that really depend upon you. Whilst finding the time to get a startup running is harder, I think the motivation to succeed is stronger than it was when it was just me with few cares in the world.
My kids are the same age and I agree completely. At some point after my kids were born I found that the change in responsibility made many other areas of my life simpler.
Once I began to understand how I could fully commit myself to my children and what it means to have kids that fully depend on you, many other things became easier to prioritize and commit to, or reject. It was easier for me to focus at work and realize that I need to make that time valuable, it was easier to exercise and eat right, it was easier to say to no to people and drop activities that were not core to what I was doing. Maybe clarity around priorities is what changed the most for me.
Slightly off topic parenting discovery: if you're the dad in the USA, you can count on general approval or at least tolerance for just about anything you do with your kids in public so long as you're not hitting them or screaming at them. It's kind of insulting that the standards are so low, but most people still seem to expect dads to be clueless, and/or they treat taking the kids out in public by yourself as an extra credit activity for fathers.
Amen to that. I've gotten the "how nice, babysitting duty?" thing a lot, which I find really insulting. "No, this would be daddy duty" is my usual response. I tend to get it especially when I'm dual-babywearing (Ergo carrier in front, Cocopak carrier in back) at the grocery store.
I'll comment from witnessing how intense focus on a startup during it's earliest phases can affect a family with very young kids:
Founder of a software startup I used to work for was highly dedicated to his work and as the company began to see success, his family fell apart. He spent time traveling to meet with his customers and occasional travel turned into constant travel. When he wasn't traveling, he was working. Eventually his wife demanded a separation and eventually a divorce. I'd sometimes be on the road with him and can recall more than one occasion when he'd be calling home to wish his kids happy birthday. I found that to be a little sad. Now he sees his kids on weekends. Lives alone in a beautiful, but empty, house.
Clearly this won't be the case for everyone but unless you are able to strike a balance you might find success comes at a very high price.
Just remember raising kids is what you are basically designed to do.
It's not a project to outsource, or to delegate, or to bend to the latest fads. There's an entire industry designed to take advantage of your cluelessness as a new parent and make you purchase things out of guilt or stress. Just remember millions of kids are raised in mud huts next to wood fires.
Do what feels natural and appreciate you're going to make mistakes. Do some reading but don't obsess with a particular author or movement. Cherry pick what works for you.
To answer a question directly, having kids does inspire you to do more but gives you less resources to do it. You will make new friends and drift away from old ones.
But above all, remember that this is what you're designed to do.
I have two kids, aged 7 and (nearly) 5. Yes, it absolutely changes your life. The degree to which it does, however, is up to you.
My wife and I waited 'til we were both 30 to have kids (we had been married since we were 24). Because we waited, we decided that we'd go all in when we did have kids--one of us would be at home with the kids, and likely homeschool (which we are doing). We made the commitment to change our lives in order to be parents. We weren't going to shoehorn kids into our lifestyle.
Additionally, be ready to sacrifice your time for your partner/spouse's sake, especially during infancy. Both parents need some time away, particularly if one is at home with the child. Early on, I considered my time at work my "free time," and was willing to give up trips to the climbing gym in the evenings so that my wife could get out of the house. As I said, this is only temporary, and as your kids get older, it's easier to share what you love with them (that's why we've never stopped climbing since we had kids--we can easily do it together, and the many road trips have provided lots of bonding experiences).
Another thing I've come to realize is that raising your children really is a way to make a positive contribution to the world. The work you do as a parent is profoundly important, more so than any hacking project or start-up. You will have time for your own big ideas again, so don't waste the opportunity you have with your kids.
I'm father of 6. Ages 7,5,4,3,2 and 8 months. (I'm atheist before you ask.) My best work--in technology has coincided with a pregnant wife. Between our disappearing nightlife schedule (more hack nights FTW!) and the caveman drive to go hunt on the plains (which for me means more LOC), a pregnancy has been productivity heroin.
Yes, a baby does change your life--in other more significant ways. The intensity of emotion cannot be described. But you will know it when you are holding your own son/daughter in your arms for the first time.
Don't dilly-dally. Have kids early. While you believe you are underfunded, underprepared and "distracted" with your tech startup.
Having a baby completely reset my perspective on being alive.
The big news in my house today was that our 1.5-year old daughter said the word "yellow" for the first time. That may sound cliched if you don't have kids, but consider that not too long ago my daughter was an inanimate object--and not too long before that she didn't exist at all--and now she's pointing at yellow objects and saying "yellow". That's magical stuff.
Having a baby means you get to experience these small magical moments every day. Pre-baby, I was often getting caught up in minutiae which now seems so unimportant. I think the paths we all tend to naturally take--go to school, start a career (or a startup), climb the ladder, etc--conspire to make us slowly lose perspective. It sort of bleeds away over time. But having a baby smashes that all, and presses the reset button.
It's sort of like the syringe-full-of-adrenaline scene in Pulp Fiction, but in a good way.
Disclaimer: I have a 3 yr old and a 2 week old
Running a start-up is tough (mentally, physically and emotionally). In my experience the emotional one is the toughest. Having a baby (and hence children) helps to put all the "junk" things into perspective.
Sure they impact on sleep / time - but so does my start-up (in this case they fit right in)
1. You suddenly have a lot of ideas for baby/toddler startups.
2. Spending time with them is the only way to go. That means your time management skills will probably (have to) improve.
3. No 9-5 is great with kids: you can make time for them whenever.
4. The first year, forget about coding at night etc. You'll need all the extra sleep you can get.
5. Kids have a sense for when you're not present. You can be in the room with them cleaning stuff, no problem. But the moment you sit behind your computer (and hence are not "there" anymore), they'll come and pull you away from it.
6. Thinking you should work more time so you have more money for them later is just really misguided. They need you. Now. Not later. They don't care at all about your professional success. They need you.
7. Kids can't be rushed (not without drama ensuing).
8. For a small baby, a few hours is like an entire day: they wake up, poop, play, eat, and go to sleep. The cycle that takes you a whole day happens in about 2 hours for them.
When they're small babies, you can put them in a sling, they sleep, and you can sit in front of a computer and get a little work done for an hour or so.
1. It's the best thing ever. Do it when your ready but if your ready younger that's great. You need all the energy you can get. If I could have done it younger I would.
2. I only felt truly grown up when I became a dad at 43.there's something about putting your own sleeping child to bed, the privilege, joy and responsibility are amazing. It's not that your not grown up if u don't have kids but it made me feel more solid and that's a better platform for launching a business - for me anyway.
3. While you will be more risk averse with kids the benefit is assessing opportunities more clearly.
4. I have just started reading "Raising Babies" by Steve Biddulph a psychologist. Very enlightening on the issue of putting tiny kids into day care. Basically, avoid at all costs if possible according to the latest research. The best thing in the world is looking after your own kids and when they are tiny this is best for them too. As another post says : don't shoehorn them into your life, change your life to fit around them.
5. The first 12 months of a new baby are a blur of exhaustion. Don't fight it, accept it. You can't do 10 eighteen hour days in a row anymore... And that's a good thing too!
Two weeks in, I definitely feel more determined than ever, but sleep is still a problem.
A couple of months into the pregnancy I took on a 9 to 5 job, which I wouldn't have considered otherwise. Then it became a problem to quit that job again, when it turned out to be boring (like most jobs) - risk aversion is definitely way up, also for the spouse. Luckily now the company branch dissolved anyway, problem solved.
I actually don't feel that now it is my duty to get a secure job to feed the family. Of course feeding the family is a priority, but it seems more important to me to be able to show my son that it is possible to have a fulfilling life, a ka have fun at work. If I went to another 9 to 5 job now, it would just result in a depressed father and possibly also a depressed kid. I don't think buying more shiny toys would compensate for that.
It floored me that it is considered normal by society that the father simply is away working and rarely ever has time for the kid. Certainly not what I want.
"to show my son that it is possible to have a fulfilling life" -> (Throwing my hands in the air): AMEN to that!
I think teaching values is partly explaining things to your kids, but mostly being an example. You do NOT have to become a boring 9-5 man when you get kids. Rather, become a scrappy entrepreneur who can afford to spend heaps of time with his kids because they have that flexibility.
I have a 3yo and 14mon old. Just about everything revolves around them, except for a precious couple of hours in the evening, when I have to decide between programming etc. and cleaning up. Because of professional demands on my time (tech lead at web dev shop), my wife ends up bearing a much larger share of the responsibilites for the household than either of us would like. If there isn't some kind of professional pot o' gold after all my effort, the inequity will just seem unfair -- and in retrospect I will just look like a typical selfish guy. The fussing seems constant sometimes, which is wearing on the nerves. Although I do spend several hours with the kids everyday (daycare exit to bed time), I'm too tired to be the engaged parent that I thought I would. "Inspiration .... to do more"? Absolutely. The financial pressure has increased tremendously. But these are 'the rough times' .... right?
I have 3 kids - 6 years old, 3 years old and a fresh one at 5 months. I would strongly recommend sleep training them from day one. My wife is a strong proponent of her own good night sleep and our kids were sleeping through the night at 5 weeks, 7 weeks and 8 weeks respectively. If you can get them sleeping, that is half the battle. After that, it becomes a scheduling issue but it is not that bad. My wife is a big fan of the book "On Becoming Baby Wise" but don't read too many books. Just use your best judgement.
You will also discover yourself doing things that you had never dreamed of - like a 3 year old yelling to you "Dad, come wipe my bum!" or calmly dealing with a child projectile vomiting and having a bowel movement at the same time. Children amplify the highs and lows of life. The smallest things they do become huge triumphs in your life (look! the baby smiled!). It is wonderful and I could not imagine it any other way.
You can still accomplish anything that you want to - my wife got tenure a week before our second child was born. I have started 3 companies while having kids. You get better at time management and it helps to have a little staff. We use a maid service and have a full-time nanny. The older kids now go to school and so we have a little structure (and I have the time between 8:30 and 11:30 in peace and quiet). You learn how to structure and delegate. You can't do it all yourself, so you have to figure out how to manage time and people. Once you get these skills, then you can actually get MORE done than you could before.
For anyone concerned about doing a startup and looking for a partner, have a look at the kid. They may not bring much in the way of technical expertise, but you will never ever want to let them down, no matter how rough the going gets. Each day when you get home and those bright eyes ask you "How was work today Daddy, what did you do?" you will find more accountability and support than you could ever believe. When they get a little older, you buy a Lego Mindstorms and start making projects that move and do things and this gets fun in new ways - teaching your kids to program/hack whatever. You can get them going on Python Turtle and watch their little minds expand once they realize that they are controlling the movements. And as someone else noted, you get a lot of baby-focused startup ideas.
I'll try to answer your questions directly and avoid the temptation of giving advice or writing about how awesome fatherhood is. For context, I have a 4 month old baby girl, a full time corporate software job and I just started my "project" two months ago...
>So does having a baby give you inspiration and ability to do more?
More inspiration and more motivation but almost no time to implement. The odd thing is that I'm actually getting more stuff done now than before, but I have to admit the bar wasn't set very high. I always knew I was wasting time before but it felt like I had plenty to waste.
Since her birth, free time is measured in minutes so I have to make them all count. On the other hand I've had opportunities for thinking while my hands have been full, so when even the shortest window opens I know exactly what needs doing first.
I have 8 month old triplets, so my case is a little different than others.
As Vivtek said below "Having a baby entirely eliminates your life and replaces it with a different one.". The old you will die off pretty quickly and a new you will be born, it sounds sad, and occasionally it may be, but your life is about to get better in a way that can't be described.
I'm trying to come up with something coherent on how I balance time and am able to work on projects. I'll post that, if I'm successful.
The short of it is: your current life is over, and you'll have a new one. This isn't meant to be dramatic; it's just how it is. You will adapt, grow, cry, laugh, sometimes get depressed, and many times be in awe.
1 year after my first son was born I started my business. I was 23. 3 more kids and 8 (almost 9) years later, I'm still working for myself. My first son was my inspiration.
This year I decided to become an independent game programmer because I wanted to follow my dreams, and I wanted my kids to see that if you love something and want to be a success at it, you have to just DO IT.
And I did. And I'm having success with it. My kids will grow up knowing you don't have to just settle down and earn a buck, but you can do what you love, make a living, and make your own rules.
Oh and if you're wondering how your life changes. Well. I think there's only one word for it: completely.
Having babies has brought more substance to our lives. We have 3 girls under the age of six and I am approaching 40. I wish we had them when we were younger if anything. Its difficult getting time to do everything.. full time job, spending time with family, hacking, starting up, etc. My girls are fantastic company and make me laugh constantly, and give me much love, They can take any stresses away in an instant. They can also add to my stresses when they are being 'challenging' young humans. They inspire me to do more for their benefit. I have been exhausted for the last six years and expect I will be until they leave home! There will be plenty of time to sleep when I retire.
I have a 4 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. It's an amazing experience bringing children in to the world and raising them to be decent, loving, energetic, passionate, all that stuff. And I totally agree with bmj when he said raising children should make a positive contribution to the world; my wife and I are completely dedicated to ensuring our kids question, learn, play and enjoy life to the max.
And I'm also a CTO at a new venture, with all the pain and hard work that involves. And it is hard with kids, keeping the balance, etc. However, it is that balance that keeps me sane, the kids bring joy when the job sucks, and vice versa.
It's overall a great thing that I wouldn't go back on, but it does have some negative repercussions on work, in terms of time to work on your own stuff, and even cutting into '9-5' type jobs. In some ways it's quite frustrating, actually, because you can't be there all the time for a child and also be there all the time for work.
What an amazing community - it's so insightful to hear comments from people at a stage I hope to acheive one day. I'm a full time web developer, not long out of University with dreams of running my own projects and getting recognition globally for my efforts. My time forever feels limited, balancing my relationships, work, personal projects and other interests at times feels impossible. Not to mention sleep, something I would happily have none of if I could survive, yet also at times enjoy it more than anything in the world.
Yet when I hear of those with children to balance and still pushing to reach great heights professionally - I'm encouraged as it never slips my mind how 'lucky' I am not to have such responsibility. I use 'lucky' in quotes, as the irony is - I'm aware I'm missing out on having a child who I imagine to be the biggest source of joy and pride one could feel.
I have a girlfriend who I love and the occasional thought of feeling a little overwhelmed and craving more time to work on my own projects is overshadowed by the motivation boost I get from knowing I'm not just working for myself. We're all working to be happy, all pushing for the best life for ourselves and our loved ones. The quest for the perfect balance will likely never end, I guess we just need to do what we feel is best at that point in time. Best of luck to all those putting the work in while still raising a child - I'm sure it can be difficult but also hugely rewarding. Thanks for sharing!
I am a new dad with a three month old boy. He has definitely changed our lives.
With a family, especially children, it changes your priorities in life. Suddenly instead of plugging away on the computer late into the night, you want to spend time with your family. So it means a lot less time to work; but more motivation, cause it is not just about you.
Having a spouse that is actively involved in raising your child, is immensely helpful.
In summary, probably less work time and harder to stay focused; but greater overall happiness.
Yes, it changes absolutely everything. I'll also say it generally makes life better, you can talk about work/life balance before a child but it takes on a completely different meaning. It's not more time at the gym or more xbox or more time outside that you're balancing work against, it's more time with your child. There simply isn't a comparison. Something else, I think I was a great deal more selfish before hand, I didn't think it at the time and I never intended or wanted to be selfish and I don't think I'd have described my self as such.
As for work and work related things, it provides an incredible filter. I've always had too many ideas and had to somehow filter through the bad ones but try to honor every idea to see if it's bad, you simply have less time to screw around and you either become more efficient and effective or you become more mediocre. You either embrace that or you fight it. Where as before, I could spend 6 hours on a Saturday morning just screwing around, maybe learning a new tool or language or something, now I've got maybe 1 hour on that Saturday and I have to make that time count more. I was maybe more oriented towards just trying stuff and seeing what happened, now I have to be a bit more thoughtful and it's not an entirely bad thing, when you just experiment and try you kind of don't excercise some parts of your mind the same way. Some of the screwing around some how seems more satisfying now when you can actually do that.
In some ways, it redefines "success." I've had mentors and peers that have sort of fallen in to two camps. 1 camp says entrepreneurship is a young man's game, it's countless really long weeks, doing every job you have to to get the company to work, you might just have to grind, at some point you either want to have a life or burn out and then you're done. You might have to choose between a marriage and your buisness. The other camp insists that it's better to have your support structure in place, how can you possibly start and run a really good company if you don't have support at home? That support is a loving family. A child almost forces you to be in the second camp or give it all up.
Now, personally, what's interesting is that when I was 23 or 24ish it seemed like there was this spectrum of success that went from Bill Gates style billionaire down to being some hired contractor that did coding jobs to pay the bills. Ultimate success would have been to grind out a decent company, sell it for a billion dollars, take some time off to do stuff that "mattered" (even though I was probably too selfish to really do it) and then try to do it again. Now, building something sustainable that I love is the goal, something that allows some balance, something that would be really hard to just walk away from for a pay day. Something that allows my co-workers and employees to live satisfying lives, start families, and have some balance too. Oddly, that goal seems much better to me and I think it is radically easier to achieve.
That is of course after that first rough year to 2 years.... Even if you sleep, it's just a lot to digest having a little human that completely loves you and depends on you for everything.
That is a question!
I love HN community, joined thx to my awesome cofounder and I have a little 11m son:) This may kill our YC application (we would definitely move to CA, but can a cofounder work as much his a. off with a baby? etc.) but don't want my son be the elephant in the room ;) Here is the answer I can contribute:
Fear - I used to be firefighter but before the birth of my son, I did not understand what it really meant. "On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love and on his left hand was the word fear" Cautious Man/Bruce Springsteen. My "treasure", I know I can lose it all. Like I never was, I am all in.
Taking a stand - It is a big responsibility. You want to make money for his security, have a stable life to take care of him... but on the other hand you want to show him an example for his own life later on. Who will be his father? Sbdy hiding in a comfortable well paid corporate job, sitting on the side of his dreams? or sbdy who wants to create sthg of value, who takes a calculated risk (this comes with age;) with costs (eg. time to take care of him), but shows him nonetheless what he believes in by what he actually works on. I chose the 2nd. It broke my relationship with his mother. When my son is born, the cycle of life was in front of my eyes and in a strange but positive way when was looking at him I also saw I will die. He changed that I had to be harshly true to myself (I am still working on it). You can lie to yourself but not to your child. This "not to BS yourself" burns (at least for me). I had to make a decision. All in.
Wonder - Children are the greatest miracle and wonder on Earth. Sthg I kinda knew got clear and more existential, the rest not important anymore. His sheer existence gives me inspiration and focus: to give a tiny bit of this miracle/wonder/awesomeness back, share that wonder fire with others. I now orient my life on 2 things: 1/ truly caring for people (they were also babies;), to listen to them, their own story when you can, and make sthg of value to them, never to take them only as means for your own interest 2/ focus my work on sthg for a minimum of 10 000 hours. (10k h or 10y. rules) (necessary to achieve wonder results, not sufficient). My co-founder and I we build a service for that. Walking the talk, eating our own existential dog food. Something that could help people achieve wonders (doesn't mean big) by doing things, practicing regularly over a period of time... We build it for us and, why not, I really hope my son one day will use it too. This sense of wonder in life, impersonated by my little boy, is what fuels my engine, that's what gives me focus and perspective. I want to build wonder machines which help others to create wonder machines. Might fail, but thank Life, my "whole" is in ;)
I just had a little boy on 05 OCT 2010. The biggest thing I've noticed is I no longer have much time for my side projects (freelancing) outside of my day job (network administrator). I have to cram fits of coding into little hour blocks of time when the kid is asleep, it's not very productive.
I'm not terribly exhausted, but I am tired. I'm still interested in all the things I was previously interested in, but I have to focus on the kid now and put those things aside until he's old enough to communicate better and isn't near as helpless.
Lastly, I don't know that he gives me inspiration so much as motivation. Previously I worked to pay the bills so my wife would be comfortable, now it's for my son and wife. If I was single, my living requirements would be far less. I'd likely have a small shack in the middle of nowhere and far fewer possessions. That being said, I love my family and my life as it stands. I wouldn't have it any other way.
The worst, in terms of tiredness and exhaustion comes around 6 - 8 weeks. Right now you've probably still got enough adrenalin in your system from the excitement to help you through but that will wear off over the next few weeks. My wife (who had previously worked 100 hours a week plus as a junior doctor) commented around week 6 that she was so tired she thought she might die.
But it does bounce and start to get better after this. Not sure whether babies just start to improve around then, whether parents start to get the hang of it around then or whether the tiredness leads people to take control of things more than they had before.
My recommendation would be rest all you can now, don't try and cram other things in for now - there will be (a small amount of) time later. I think it was somewhere around 4 or 5 months when things started to feel a little bit back to normal and you can start looking at personal projects and hobbies.
"The worst, in terms of tiredness and exhaustion comes around 6 - 8 weeks." Agreed. Also, tiredness can build up over months and hit you hard at, say, 6 months. Make sure you and your wife use every moment you can to get some sleep. Leave that laundry for later, get some sleep.
The time issue is the biggest adjustment for me. I'm in my 30's and have spent 2/3 of my life goofing around on my computer in my spare time (which I apparently had boatloads of, though now it is hard to remember what it was like). I now have a 5 month old girl. The hardest thing to adjust to was the time issue. I have a 40-min train commute to my job, and that gives me my biggest chunk of free time all week. While it is easing up some, the lack of sleep is really hard. I get up several times in the middle of the night to just give her a pacifier and soothe her back to sleep. As a result, I'm much less productive at work.
In spite of all of that, I wouldn't change a thing. All I have to do is look at her smile in the morning and it reminds me what life is really all about.
Not having so much free time is certainly a problem. No more hacking away for the whole day/evening/night. Nowadays I'm lucky if I get a straight 2 hours. The one good thing about this (aside for my beautiful daughter of course) is that it's made me knuckle down and focus on goals. Knowing that I've only got one hour to get a particular task done is a great motivator.
When the baby is born someone does an execve on you. You inherit your original PID but everything else is replaced. There is no way back to the original process, but you keep open file descriptors to your close friends. Friends without children were likely marked close on exec.
Friends without children were likely marked close on exec.
Hopefully dependent on who the friend is. One of my best friends had a daughter a year ago, and I've seen him about as much as I did before he was a father. (Which is less than I like, but I no longer live near my family and oldest set of friends.) But that works because I'm fine with going over to their house and sitting around talking while watching their little girl try to figure out how to sit up.
Life's priorities certainly change. Before I had a baby, it was all about my intellectual pursuits. Now my focus is on how to be a better father. I used to be a big gamer. I sold my gaming system and try to no longer use the computer after I get home from work. Needless to say, this is a huge priority shift and is very fulfilling. I am less inspired to pursue risky dreams, but more inspired to plan for long term financial success. It is exhausting to come home after a long day and be Dad, get on their level and focus on them, but at the same time I have a new found energy that I never had before.
(Father of a 20 month old girl and expecting another this December.)
Our first son is nine weeks old now and it's hard to believe the changes we've all gone through since his birth.
>> So does having a baby give you inspiration and ability to do more?
Absolutely. I'm more inspired than ever to make BeyondThePedway.com a sustainable business so my wife can not work next year and stay home with our little guy. I want to create the best lifestyle possible for us and him, so the inspiration is there like never before.
>> Or maybe you change your life's priorities?
This happened too, at least for me, but it relates to your previous question. My biggest priority now is creating a happy lifestyle for us, where I can work when I want to, and enjoy all of my kid's life. I want my wife to do what she wants to. So yes, it's changed my priorities a bit, but for the better. And I couldn't be more excited.
>> Or you are so exhausted that everything else seems uninteresting?
This is where your mileage may vary...a lot. Our little guy is amazing, started sleeping 4-5 hours for the first leg at night right out of the hospital. And he's done it consistently. I don't get up more than twice during the night with him. I was exhausted a bit in the first few weeks because I was still trying to work at night (I'm a night guy), but once I switched to going to bed when he does at 8-9pm and getting up earlier in the morning, it made a world of a difference.
>> How does having a baby change your life?
Makes you so happy. Changes your outlook on everything. A whole new set of eyes looking at every aspect of you life in a whole new light. You realize he's going to be a teenager one day. He's going to do all the things you did or didn't do. Indescribable really. :)
Initially, you're going to be pretty sleep deprived. Don't expect to get much done. You're also going to be REALLY distracted by every little snort and sniffle.
Somewhere around 6 months, things will SORT of get back to normal. One person should be able to reliably watch the kid while the other gets some valuable "me' time.
One thing you need to be prepared for is taking time off of work. You'll have to. It's not fair for one spouse to deal with all the responsibility. If possible, you should both attend the pediatric visits for the first year.
The one thing you cannot prepare for is the amount of love that will take over your life. I'm not a touchy feely kind of guy but you'll have waking nightmares about something happening to your kids and sometimes some really bad dreams. I think that's a side effect of the fact that you have someone who depends on you entirely for everything. this little person is your responsibility and you love them so much and they love you so much. It's overwhelming. It changes your world view.
Where you REALLY hit a rough spot is on the second one (depending on the age of the first). My second son came when my first was 21 months old. That's two in diapers. One parent CANNOT watch both kids for extended periods of time at that age ESPECIALLY if you're breastfeeding (which you should at least give a shot).
The biggest suggestion I would make is this:
If you have any dreams of being an entrepreneur, discuss with your spouse about how far along you want to get in that process before you have kids. You'll have to put it on hold for at least 6 months if not a year.
I love my kids and wouldn't have it any other way. Yes, it changes your life and priorities.
The biggest change for me was the lack of free time to do everything. I can still make time to do what I enjoy, but I don't have time for reading books and watching tv and working out and sports and going out with friends. I have to choose one or two things that are most important.
In hacker terms, I was running at a baseline of 10% CPU before the kids and could add whatever other activities I wanted without getting overwhelmed. After the kids, I'm running at 40% CPU (90% for the first three months of their lives :) ) and have to be more judicious about what additional activities I take on.
The biggest change for us initially was lack of sleep. Now that we're past that hurdle (he sleeps for roughly 12hrs at night) the biggest change I'm seeing is STUFF.
There's huge marketing pressure to buy things for your baby. Some are a necessity (at least in Western society) like diapers, clothes and whatnot. But there are many, many things you'll see at Target/BabiesRUs/where ever you shop that you don't really need.
Humans have been dealing with infants for thousands of years, and most of this stuff has only been around for the last 50.
I've a 2 year old son. A lot of comments about sleeplessness and being on call 24/7 stop applying after a few months, when a baby sleeps through the night.
I find I have less time in front of the computer, but more motivation and inspiration while I'm there. I still have plenty of energy and time to create interesting projects (http://yieldthought.com/post/1345897970/10-flaws-that-made-m...). I had more time beforehand, but I can't point to anything worthwhile that I achieved with it.
I'll strike a somewhat contrarian view: having children doesn't really have to change who you are. You can still enjoy most of the things you enjoy, except you get to bring your children into it, and enjoy it on a new, cool level. We enjoy art & opera, so we take our kids to museums and concerts (we started taking our oldest at 3, our youngest is not ready for opera yet, but can do small concerts). We love linguistics, history, science, so we love sharing these things with our children (etymology is a particular hit with our 5-yr-old). Bonus point: if you're interested in cognitive psychology, you'll get the greatest kick out of observing your children's attempts at modeling the world & language. You like travel? Take your kids with you. Love to read? Share your favorites with kids. I remember how my father always used to re-tell us his favorite books (sci-fi stuff, jules verne, etc). We watch Daily Show each night with our kids (when we go to vote with them, they know stuff, it's wicked cool :) I still spend all my free time doing startups (yes, yes, there's lots less of it, but still). The first year+ was a bit hard (early years fall disproportionately hard on the women as milk-producing & comfort-giving machines, hah), and I must take lots of forced vacations (daycare closed, school closed, child is sick), but... What I'm trying to say, take it easy, and don't worry too much about it. For one, you can't really predict what'll happen anyway, you've got to live through it. As an old Arabic saying goes, "What can the horse tell you about the road he hasn't traveled?" :)
is anyone commenting here female? or have anecdotes with respect to how women are effected? i'm particularly curious because of the physical and hormonal changes that a woman goes through with respect to child birth and breast feeding, etc. how are the time, side-project, changes curves effected in this particular case?
I'm 38 weeks pregnant so can't comment on having a child yet, but the physical impact of pregnancy took me rather by surprise. In particular, I just haven't been able to sit at a computer for that many hours of a day for the last two or three months. Getting an iPad has certainly helped somewhat with that, but haven't found any way to actually do programming comfortably for long stretches. I feel like my brain is still in full working order though which is a relief!
When I was pregnant with my twins, I worked full time, mostly from home. The key was a sweet recliner, good laptop, and laptop stand. I got plenty done.
After they were born, I spent so much time nursing them for the first 2 months, that I had plenty of hack-y time (alternating with episodes of Buffy). You need a good nursing pillow and a comfortable seat, but you need those even if you're just watching Buffy. My beloved cooked all the meals, did most of the errands, and was generally as awesome and supportive as a man can be. It helps that he was working from home at the time.
lol, since I started on maternity leave I have in fact alternating hacky type stuff with watching Buffy! (which I'd somehow managed to never watch, and should keep me going for a while) Thanks for the tips too!
Just a warning: there's a place between 3 months and a year where your evening productivity may drop, depending on how well your baby sleeps. I was doing ok for a while, then went back to work full time, and got pretty much nothing done on my side projects until they were a year old. Now at 18 mos, they sleep from 7:30 - 7:30, and it's much easier.
4 year old boy and 1 year old girl. Two things change;
Time. I'd worked in banking fresh out of school - have a problem? Throw hours at it. +100 hour weeks were no problem. Not so now - much more than 60 and the big one will ask me where I've been.
Responsibility. Kids connect you to the world; things that were once meaningless, now matter. I care what the two of them do all day, are they getting a good education, eating healthy, exercising, etc. Your role as Dad requires much more oversight than your role as spouse.
I have a 3.5 year old and another on the way. Some observations:
* It was about 8 weeks before I could have an hour to myself in the evenings to watch TV. Before that I was in a constant state of rushing to get everything done. Fortunately I rode the train to work so that gave me 30mins to chill.
* It made me way more efficient with my time, I can't believe how much time I used to waste. I'm now ruthless with time management - having 30 minutes to myself is a luxury and will quickly be allocated to fixing bugs or catch up on reading.
* The financial pressure focuses you on what's really important. I've learned to live on a lot less personally - shame I now have higher costs overall.
* The way you plan things changes, you have to allocate at least 30mins to "getting ready to go out".
* It'll make you a better communicator, depending on how your career's gone so far, having a child may be your first exposure to really asserting yourself with someone, simplifying technical concepts on a regular basis (the other day I had "Why can't I see my eyes?") and "hacking people" (I'm thinking of things like using distraction or turning going to bed into a race).
* I think it makes you more pragmatic and less idealistic. You know that the way the school admissions system works is supposed to be fair but you will shamelessly game the system when it comes to your kids.
I have a six week old daughter and am running an iPhone dev Agency in London (Future Workshops - 5 employees).
Having a daughter is an amazing experience. Its hard work, but your heart melts at the smallest things. Its true when people say that it changes the way you are for ever.
On the flip side, I found work difficult after the birth. I could operate on a small amount of sleep before, but after my daughter was born the lack of sleep was relentless - kinda like going out on the town every night for two weeks and then having to work a full day.
Our clients have been amazing - heartfelt congratulations and baby clothes in the post, but (rightly so) they still expect project delivery.
I feel that I'm out the other side now - I've trimmed my social commitments and delegated in the right places to my employees, who have stepped up to the task. I've got a good understanding in place with my partner about my time also.
If you are going to have kids and run your own business make sure you plan for reduced sleep and vastly reduced effectiveness after the birth. Things will get back on an even keel quickly enough if you do!
I don't have kids, but here's my observation. (1) My father had no interest in kids except to yell and beat us fairly often. (2) A friend is a 40yo single playboy who finally slipped up and had a son, whom he sees every weekend. He adores the kid and "can't imagine life without him." (3) Every time a friend has a kid, he disappears forever. The only clue they're alive are the updated pics of their kids on facebook.
Having had my first child 6 months ago, this transition is still fresh for me.
Having a baby makes you feel much more a part of the human race. It also makes your house feel more like a home instead of a simple shelter (in the utilitarian sense). There is much joy in raising a child.
Obviously, it takes a lot of time and work, but it's not the end of productivity. I work a fulltime job, home by 5:30, and have to keep myself from working on other projects until about 8pm when the baby goes to bed. That's only 2.5 hours I'm unable to work during week days nights, and I'd normally take at least 1 of those off anyway.
Weekends are a little different. There's much more time available but you have to balance it with spending time with the family, so I usually end up working random hours whenever I can (maybe 2 or 4 or 6) per weekend day.
Hours alone don't build an app. I think the consistency and discipline that my new schedule requires is helpful in itself. The hours I do have available are now more productive and focused.
I think it depends on both yours and your spouses contribution to taking care of the child. It also depends what number child you are on like ericb said. The first child is always the hardest and can be a distraction for a couple of months. After those couple of months, and even if you have more children the distraction becomes a need to support your family over your startup. If you can fund your startup and your family without making them suffer, AND you have a supportive spouse in terms of the hours you have to put into your startup, then you are all set.
Edit: I just noticed your user name is kia, so there is a high probability that you are female. Although it is not exactly "right" it is "traditionally" expected for a woman to be more of a contributor to taking care of the child than the man. Thus, it depends greatly on your spouses willingness to forgo gender bias and help you. I would suggest that you be very open and thorough in your communication about how you will share the responsibilities of the child.
I have a 4 year old and I'm 26 now, it does change your priorities for sure but more than that you start to realize "you just can't afford to fail", failing when you are on your own is less of an issue than when you have a kid, and that same pressure to not fail will have different consequences on different people, for the ones with the entreprenurial gene it will most likely be a motivator, for the ones without that entrepenurial gene/mindset/spirit will increase their fear of failure and make them pass opportunities or not give it a shot to their ideas.
All in all, I think, it's a great experience! very rewarding even the downsides (you know, lack of sleep, diapers, etc) are not as bad as they sound, you kinda get used to it and trust me, raising a happy kid is priceless, so changing diapers for a few years and missing some sleep hours is a very small price to pay imo.
I have 2 kids (7 years and 4 months) and 2 on the way (I know I work fast). What I can say above all is I do everything that I do for my kids. To run through your questions. Yes you will get inspiration from your kids as you hope to inspire them in some little way at all times in their life. Your life's priorities sure do change (or at least should). Your life become about your kid more or less. At least mine has. You will hit points of exhaustion. Its figuring out how to limit those times that becomes the trick.
With all that said its the greatest thing ever. Think of it as a little "startup" that you cannot let fail. You put a lot of time into it and in turn you get all the return you need the first time that baby smiles at you and it ISN'T because of gas heh. At no point have I thought it wasn't worth it. Its been a crazy train ride but fun the whole way.
Well, you're on somebody else's schedule for the next many years. Get out of the late night feeding world, and presently you're coordinating schedules with day-care providers and then schools (not always to be distinguished) that you cannot afford to upset. (I vividly remember one Friday afternoon at the end of the government fiscal year; some chosen software was taking a divide-by-zero error on DOS 4.0, and the COTR wanted to know whether she should pull the invoice and buy from a competitor. Meanwhile I had a babysitter who needed a check before she left the country for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, a quick repartition to bring C: back under 32 MB fixed the problem. I was home by 5 pm.)
It does not make everything else seem uninteresting--children can open up new areas of interest for you. But your priorities change drastically.
I have four daughters ages 4 to 14 and the one thing, without a doubt, that kids did for me was that they help me to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. If it wasn't for a my daughters (and my wife, to a lesser extent) I'd probably do nothing but work and sleep. But they keep me grounded in the rest of the world. And something as simple as a few minutes watching a show or playing a game together brings me more joy than it ever did before I had them.
As for you questions; yeah, it'll can change your priorities, inspire you to do more or do different. And, as you can see in the rest of the comments, having a baby instantly requires everyone to give all the advice they wished someone had given them.
My advice, ignore 99.9% of what everyone tells you. Doing that is what kept my wife and I sane.
We are about to bring in a child to this world. Our due date is literally three days away and it has changed the definition of how my free time is structured. It changed what I think about on the drive in to work and what I do with my free time at work.
Take my last week for instance. We had a list of things to get and do before labor and spent about 50% of our free time knocking off items from that list. Time between 6PM and midnight, which would be my personal free time, got re-prioritized. Instead of just sitting at the computer and mindlessly throwing myself at a project, I plan it out and almost rehearse it far in advance. In a sense, it made me more focused and taught me to squeeze productivity in the best way possible.
There are so many great comments here; I don't think it's possible to describe to someone who hasn't been there. It's not an intelligence barrier; the simple experience of parenthood is impossible to convey. That said, I'll give it a shot:
It's wonderful and terrifying and deeply satisfying and the most frustrating thing you'll ever do. Days and weeks will whip past with appalling speed; things that once seemed life-shatteringly important now appear quaint, humorous, and mildly embarrassing. You'll become a better person than you ever thought possible, and will become acutely aware of your every character flaw.
You'll never know if you're going to regret it, but you won't care.
This is our first child and we had it all planned out. Well, either the plan was ill-conceived or just poorly executed because nothing has gone as planned.
Example: We adopted across racial lines. We are now a multi-racial family and I thought, why not have a buddy of mine set up a website where I can document my experiences as a father of a child that does not look like me. Thought it might be useful information for some people as well as a place for the birth mother to look in on from time to time if she chose to. The site is up, but there is nothing posted because I have not had time to learn to use it.
My 12 year old is very into Apple and his idle is Bertrand Serlet although he doesn't mind Steve Jobs either.
He turned out this way because he was always wanting to do what I was doing which was IT and writing code. He has designed his first iphone app and wants to release it.
I must admit that having them was definitely a change in life. It was positive though. Yeah 3am feedings and all night visits to the emergency room are not fun but watching them apply a skill you taught them in the funniest way makes it all worth it.
I have a 2.5 year old daughter, and I've found that once we got past the sleepless nights phase, I became more productive on my side projects than I was before she was born.
I have dramatically less free time to work on them, but out of necessity I've become much more focused and disciplined about how I use it (no more tv, aimless web surfing, etc.). The net effect is that I'm getting a lot more done. Meanwhile, my single friends are complaining that they don't have any free time for side projects. Hah.
I have a 7 month old son. I'm 24 years old. Me and the girl started going out about 4 months into her pregnancy. I wanted to give it a shot and it didn't work out in the end (just split up). My advice is to not fool yourself. It's going to take all you have, so be ready to sacrifice your startup, social life etc. There will be time later for that. Just go at the same speed as the girl does, going from maternity and babycaring to getting a babysitter and going out.
No doubt it changes your life. Less sleep, less time for your self, basicly your life resolves around your kids lives. The good part about kids if you are trying to start your own business is that it adds a constant to your live. Your business is a wild roller coaster ride but no matter how bad your day was or how big the disappointment your kids are there at the end of the day. It makes you realize on a daily basis that there is more to life than a business a product or a job.
Mine is 9 months today. The first six months, he slept a lot and I actually got a lot of side projects worked on (I'm the dad). But, now he sleeps less and is much more active, so when I'm watching him it is all hands on deck. But, it is really awesome ditching the computer and just hanging out and playing with him. I have a whole life to hack on projects, but the time with him now is priceless.
You're no longer the center of your own universe. It's really fun 85% of the time. You will have your patience tried in ways you can't possibly imagine (for example, you haven't yet experienced 18 months of sleep deprivation, and no, college and/or your startup isn't the same thing). If you're doing it with a significant other, it will seriously test the strength of that relationship.
A better question is how doesn't having a baby change your life.
As others here have said, it changes everything. Some of the changes are good, some are annoying and honestly some of them just plain suck. But you deal with it because that eating, pooping, crying, sleeping (sleep is optional) machine becomes the single most important thing in your life.
I have one. There are many changes, and most of them are good.
First you need to survive the first few weeks without much sleep. After that, the main thing is to adjust your schedule to help with the baby and to play with him/her. It sure takes time, but you won't believe how that time is well spent :-)
Everything anyone tells you about how having kids changes your life is greatly exaggerated. Probably including this. You have an additional constraint to solve for, but it can almost always be solved for. Having a kid doesn't have to change things that are important to you.
does having a baby give you inspiration and ability to do more?
Maybe. It hasn't affected that part of me much. My kid's five, and I'm about as driven as I ever was.
Or maybe you change your life's priorities?
It does, sure. You will suddenly realize one day how much you love your kid. The first months you spend in shock -- Ohmygod we have a baby here! -- but after a while you realize how connected you are to him or her. And the pressure to provider for the baby can be intense.
On the other hand, you also realize that if you don't take care of yourself, you cannot take care of the child.
Or you are so exhausted that everything else seems uninteresting?
I've had those days. As the kid gets older (than a year, for instance) you are not a walking zombie. The outside world seems like a welcome diversion. Don't worry, you won't lose yourself.
How does having a baby change your life?
In practical terms: there's some new pressure, and new concerns, but you remain the same person you always were -- just maybe a little bit better because you have to try harder now.