Earlier today I was rushing to finish a small home project: re-locating the basement refrigerator. We were expecting company in the afternoon and I had to finish moving the fridge so I could watch our son Jack while my wife cleaned up the house. In my haste, I drove a nail directly through the extension cord I was using to power the fridge in the new location. In an instant, a lightning bolt appeared in front of me. The charge leapt from the head of the nail through the hammer and over into a (grounded) metal-cased electric line.
Fortunately, the handle of the hammer was fiberglass and the charge found its way to ground without going through me, but it was definitely a little bit of a wakeup call.
As I sat down this evening to write my post, having thankfully not been electrocuted earlier today, I thought I would take some time to reflect on the first year of being a parent – and the lessons I’ve taken away.
- Lesson 1: Don’t try to squeeze things in.
For much of this first year, I’ve tried to keep up the same schedule I had before having a child. I tried to do all the same home projects, keep up with my same hobbies (jewelry making and writing this blog) and keep the same hours at work. For a part of the year I made this work (I just didn’t sleep very much). Eventually, after many consecutive weeks of not enough sleep, I realized that this wasn’t going to work.
I learned that if I try to squeeze everything in, at best, I don’t get to spend very much time with my family – at worst, I end up (almost) electrocuting myself.
- Lesson 2: Don’t be afraid to go home at 6pm.
Before having a child, I would work late most nights. I considered the evening time at the office some of my most productive time – as well as the time when I was most likely to get face time with senior executives.
Now I almost always go home at 6pm (arrive home around 7:15pm), put my son to bed, have a quick dinner with my wife and hop back on the computer at 8:30pm. On really busy nights I can work as late as 11pm or 12am – but even on the busiest night I’ll still have had the chance to spend some time with my family.
- Lesson 3: Everything needs to be prioritized.
My wife and I developed a system where each Friday night, while eating dinner, we tell each other our goals for the weekend. Then we work together to make sure we get as many of them done as we can. Even things like “doing laundry” or “rotating the mattress” go on the list. Little things that didn’t need to be prioritized before, now have to be prioritized against everything else.
- Lesson 4: Take the long view.
Kids grow up. Eventually our life will return to some greater semblance of normalcy. Heck, our son may even help out around the house and make things easier? Those of you with older children – please don’t spoil this fantasy for me if it’s not true.
Well, one year down. We made it and are getting by just fine.
Best of all – our son is happy and healthy (AND I didn’t get electrocuted today).