YESTERDAY, Jon and I went to a dinner for entrepreneurs.
Many of these people live similar lifestyles to Jon and I:
- They work from home
- They make their own daily schedules
- They practice mindfulness, healthy eating, exercise and getting 7 hours of sleep
- They maximize productivity, focus and efficiency
- They travel a lot (to conferences and events but also for experiences)
- They are their own bosses
One couple in particular has a 4 year old daughter and so I spoke with the mum for quite a while.
You see, as excited as I am for Jon and I to be parents, I’m also nervous.
I’m nervous because no longer will our time be allocated by design. When you have a new born you are it’s sole caretaker and they require your attention 24/7… or practically 24/7.
There’s a reason why they call it the 4th trimester.
Jon and I are very fortunate. We don’t have any major responsibilities as of now.
- Our parents are healthy
- Our siblings are independent
- We don’t own any pets
- We work from home and are our own bosses
- We don’t own a home or even furniture… we can literally up and leave with a back-pack at any point to travel and not look back.
This is rare, I know. But it’s also the life we designed for ourselves… and let me tell you, it hasn’t always been easy.
But, now that the thought of a baby is coming into the picture, things are going to change… or are they?
Many successful people (and parents) will tell you not to let a child live your life. Let me explain…
The partnership between Jon and I is more important to maintain, build and develop than one with your child. Ummmm….?? Really?
Yup! Obviously you want to care for your child, make sure they have all their basic needs met, love them, and be the best parent that you can, but at some point in your life, they will leave.
I mean, you’ve left your parents haven’t you? And when your children do too, what will be left of your relationship with your partner?
Having a loving and respectful relationship with your spouse if not only key to long-term success within the relationship, but it’s also an important model for your children.
So with that in mind, Jon and I want to continue to travel and explore while we are pregnant, with an infant, with a toddler and beyond.
We think it is so valuable to allow a child to see different ways of living, thinking and being. It important to let them explore and be free to think differently, creatively.
But it won’t be easy for me, as the mummy.
Living with an entrepreneur is amazing. Being an entrepreneur with my husband is even better.
However, when baby comes, how will life change?
As the mother, unless you are formula feeding, your baby will constantly need your attention. Many of my mummy friends say that they are the only ones who can get their baby to fall asleep without a fuss.
The amount of time, exhaustion and expectations on the mummy is unimaginable for me.
So when I spoke with my mummy friend at the entrepreneurial event last night, she confirmed the struggles, and she gave me some great advice about the changes her and her husband had to make when their baby was born.
1. It was give and take.
No longer was her husband able to get work done at home whenever he felt like it. With a child, there are few moments of quite and focus, and the partner cannot expect the mummy to care for baby 24/7.
Instead, her husband started to wake up at 4:30am to get his most important work done first thing in the morning so that everything else that happens in the day was a bonus.
And she stopped her work and projects to be there for their baby.
2. They both had moments of resentment to their baby.
With a husband who was trying to run his own business and interruptions from his normal routine, it’s easy to see why a baby can be frustrating. Often, husbands don’t bond right away with their children because they are so dependent on mummy, and so it’s harder to feel those moments of unconditional love.
But as a mummy, you can also feel distant. It’s exhausting being a mum. The moment you start your labor contractions is the moment you are constantly exhausted (or so my friend says). Of course you have more interrupted sleep, but you are also never fully passed out. A mum’s ear is always listening for a cry, whimper or a preemptive shift that could wake baby up.
So no wonder she didn’t feel those moments of pure elation all the time. Having a baby is hard work and it doesn’t often go acknowledged. You are not a bad mom for having melt down moments or times when you just can’t love your baby unconditionally.
3. Travel was still a priority.
They continued to travel, but at first it was to “all-inclusive” resort-type places. This way the food, room, beach, and activities were all within walking distance of each other and it made it much easier to care for baby and enjoy the trip.
4. Organized but flexible
When they traveled, they had to plan a lot better, but still be flexible. Extra diapers, extra clothes, lots of wipes, frozen lactose-free milk, toys, snacks, play-pens, etc. When it came time to travel, there were a lot of preparations to make sure the plane ride went smoothly and that any food restrictions were met, in case they couldn’t buy those specific things while traveling.
5. They had to work as a team.
When you live and work with your spouse, you need to set clear boundaries so that you can both be productive and not distracted. When you introduce a child, those boundaries are less concrete as baby could need either parent as any moment. Having a partner be there for mummy when she needs just 5 minutes to eat, or shower, or to close her eyes is so important.
6. They got help when needed.
You cannot be wonder woman all the time. Sometimes, often you need to be able to ask for help. Call up your mom, sister, neighbor or a nanny to come and give you the opportunity to be and feel “normal”. The baby and your spouse will appreciate it when you are well rested.
The last piece of advice that I got was to trust yourself. Mummy knows best. Obviously if it is a medical issue or serious problem you’ll want to seek professional advice, but trust your instincts for the day-to-day stuff. Mummies love giving other new or soon-to-be-mummies advice. Take it with a grain of salt and make your own educated decision. You know your baby best.
But the biggest lesson I got from chatting with my entrepreneurial friends was that it is possible to continue to design a life you want.
It is possible to travel with an infant.
And it is possible to have both parents work from home and be successful entrepreneurs, it just takes a bit more strategy and teamwork.