Over the winter I became a dad for the first time. It has, to put it mildly, been a challenge to balance running the business with fatherhood and the rest of life. I’ve been intending to write a post about this for a while. I don’t have any “answers” per se, but I do have a bunch of thoughts that I decide to group together and share…
As someone who values sleep and correlates performance to sleep, it has been difficult to get enough rest to be productive. Understanding infant sleep cycles and adult sleep cycles helped a ton (i.e. “Sleep cycles, composed of REM and NREM sleep, last for about 50 minutes in children and 90 minutes in adults”). This allowed us to temporarily hack our sleep until the baby started sleeping for longer stretches. Early on my wife and I would do three hour shifts to allow the other person to get two uninterrupted sleep cycles. I took a lot of 20 minute naps to fill in the gaps.
I completely gave up caffeine and alcohol for the first few months. Given my love of tea, this was tough, but it allowed me to 1) understand when I was truly tired, and 2) sleep whenever the opportunity presented itself. I found some OK decaf teas to get me by, but I was very excited to phase in the real stuff again.
The flexibility of being a business owner was/is a huge advantage. Since I work from home 3-4 days per week, I was able to help out during the day as needed most days until my wife went back to work and we started daycare.
Uninterrupted work time in a state where I can actually be productive (rested, fed, showered, not frazzled, etc) is harder to come by, so when it does I try to really dial in and eliminate all distractions. I’ll let unimportant emails sit for longer, knowing that I can answer them anytime, whereas that chunk of time I have right then is rare and needs to be spent on my most important work.
I scaled back my workouts for the first few months. A couple of days in I realized that raising a newborn IS the workout. It’s its own marathon, with a lack of sleep, all sorts of stress, and constantly bending and squatting and carrying and going up and down stairs.
I’ve read more books this year than I think I ever have before. I’ve been ripping through them on the Kindle app on my phone during those odd pockets of downtime, which seem to be often. I find this to be much more peaceful, enjoyable, and productive than killing lots of time on social media, which it seems like most new parents do.
I’ve also listened to more podcasts than ever before. Especially in the beginning, there were a lot of dishes, laundry, nighttime feedings, and the like that were made tolerable by listening to podcasts. I picked up a pair of these highly rated and affordable wireless earbuds. Even if my phone was charging in another room, I could just pop the headphones in, hit play, and walk around the house with some entertainment in my ear.
This lullaby album (free to download if you’re an Amazon Prime member) has been a savior. It’s played A LOT in our house.
Businesses are a ton of work. Kids are a ton of work. It’s important to still find time for taking care of yourself and the things you enjoy. My wife and I are happy to watch the baby while the other one does something fun, and we’re lucky enough that our parents are both local and are thrilled to babysit whenever we ask.
The 24x7x365 nature of parenthood has been an adjustment. Previously, no matter how chaotic a stretch of life would be, there’d almost always be an opportunity to find a day to sleep in and recharge. Not so much anymore, which means I need to be more cognizant of over-scheduling and over-committing.
If there’s one big thing I’ve learned, it’s to go with the flow and to try to enjoy whatever each day brings. Embrace the chaos! Children grow up fast. I want to appreciate every moment instead of worrying about what I’m missing out on.