The details of your personal life choices are not mine to judge. I have my life experiences and opinions and they were shaped by many external and internal factors that we may or may not share. That being said, if you’re about to have a child, I have three recommendations that will make this experience more rewarding to you as a parent and professional. After that, I share some other observations that may either alter or sharpen your existing opinions. Good luck. It’s a hell of a journey.
Three Recommendations When I Hear You’re Going to Have a Child
- Watch this awesome TED video on parenting taboo’s with your spouse on a cozy couch when you’re relaxing together. (17 minutes)
- Acquire the book Wonder Weeks. It will explain many of your child’s emotional meltdowns during their early (brain) development. If you know me personally, I’ll drop ship it to you.
- Recognize, appreciate, and plan for the fact that you’re not in charge anymore. This has major implications for your work performance. This requires additional explanation provided below.
Should You Have Children
I don’t know. The best response to this question I’ve seen printed is by John T. Reed who says, I recommend you be a grandparent, and there’s only one way to get there. This is presented in his book Succeeding, which I recommend. It does seem interesting that everyone who has children seems to recommend it. I’ve also had a lot of first-hand experience with really motivated people professionally, who lost all drive after they had children. This may help inform when you should have children.
When Should You Have Children
I don’t know. Children are a major long term commitment and tend to refocus your priorities in life. There are competing interests here. You should have children as late as possible to provide time to develop your career, create some financial security, and become emotionally and mentally mature enough to be responsible for another person. You should have children as soon as possible because it’s nice to have youthful energy while raising children. You want to be in your twenties or thirties when you’re playing catch or soccer with your kids, not fifty or sixty. It’s a nice idea to not be a member of AARP when your kids graduate. People are physically built to have children young. If you’re a woman, your risks during pregnancy go up after 35 and drastically increase after 40. Practically, this means you want to be married before 30 if you want to have a family. That means no goofing off with boys who don’t want to be married or have kids after you’re in your mid/late twenties. Sorry.
You’re Not in Charge Anymore
Pretty much everything in your life changes after you have children. Professionally this means you need to plan a lot more buffer into your schedule. No more all-nighters before a deadline. Procrastination can now completely screw you. Let’s say you don’t start a project until right before it’s due because you’ll just work a few long days and get it in under the deadline. Well, this is when fate will decide you need to spend the night in the hospital with your kid who is sick, dehydrated, and has a 103 degree fever. This is when your two-week project that is due tomorrow and hasn’t been started yet caused you a career setback. It’s okay to be only 90% done when you’re in the hospital with your children, but not having started? That’s just irresponsible. It was always irresponsible, but now your children shine a light on that fact for you.
So, it’s really time to adopt some priority management skills and tactics to prevent the likelihood of this happening. I recommend a few concepts here which will be expanded over time.
- Watch Randy Pausch on Time Management.
- Read the Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. “First thing first, second thing never.”
- Read this summary of GTD, and think about reading Getting Things Done by David Allen.