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How having Children is the best Lifestyle choice you can make.
The full chapter on Children will outline why Children are the best thing in the world and how to plan for their arrival.
Understanding parenthood means getting the most out of your kids and your life.
On the face of it, having children might look like the worst lifestyle choice you can make. They take up a huge amount of your most precious asset (time), they cost a lot of money, you will need a bigger house and you may even need a totally un-cool people-mover! But the reality is different. Unless you simply can’t stand kids, having children is the best lifestyle choice you can make.
I have never experienced anywhere near the joy, the laughter, the fun, the love and the natural high my children give me. Before I had children I really loved life but looking back it was nowhere near as rich and full and wonderful as it is now with our three beautiful children. This is not just my opinion. It is a sentiment shared by all of my friends who have kids.
I sometimes wonder why no-one told me how great it was to have kids. I think one reason is that in previous generations the father was not encouraged to be involved like fathers are today. Often they were the breadwinner and the disciplinarian and they were expected to be somewhat distant from their children. This distance from the start did not allow fathers to bond deeply with their children, and the distance was then harder to bridge. Today’s Dads are totally different. We get to bond immediately with a new baby at the same time as Mom does. We are encouraged to touch and cuddle and play with our babies. That bond is easy to maintain and a positive cycle begins.
Mothers of course have always had that close bond with their children. However, in previous generations much of motherhood was hard physical work, often with not much money coming in and with the father helping very little. Imagine keeping a busy household going without automatic washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, a second car etc. Consequently mothers of previous generations were worked ragged and often didn’t have the time and energy we can enjoy today.
Warning – I don’t want to give you the impression that being a parent is easy and simple. In fact, being a parent is hard work and sometimes exhausting. It can’t be fun all of the time. There are parts that are mundane and frustrating and scary. The point is, the highs far outweigh the lows and the hard work is forgotten with one smile or cuddle or “I love you daddy.”
For children to really enhance your lifestyle there are a number of things to get right. If you don’t get them right, you will suffer and your kids will suffer:
Tip #1 Plan Your Time
Because kids are so great you want to spend lots and lots of time with them. I never realized this and nor did my peers. Believe me when I say that once you have a new baby, the idea of working long hours or travelling with work loses its appeal in a hurry. It is also great to be able to take time for your kids during the week for example baby’s first health check-up, first day of preschool, sports day, swimming sports, school concerts etc.
Sadly, statistics tell us that most fathers spend around ten minutes per week, one on one interacting with their kids. In this scenario everyone misses wonderful hours of golden moments.
So given that you will want to and you will need to spend a lot of time with your kids, you need to plan for that before they arrive. Aim to have a job or a business that is flexible enough to allow you to take the time to be with your kids.
Tip #2 Plan Your Money
There is no question that kids cost money. Firstly, there are the obvious costs such as baby formula, nappies, clothes, toys etc. And then the hidden costs like bigger houses and cars. Also of course time is money and if one parent quits a job or goes down to part time, there will be a huge decrease in income. Even if both parents work full time, the childcare costs are huge. If you have not planned for these costs they will really hit you.
My advice is save hard two to three years before you have kids and don’t make commitments (for example a huge mortgage) that make you broke when you have children.
Tip #3 Bonding
Bonding with your kids starts the moment they are born and even before in utero. For Dad’s if you possibly can, take two weeks off as soon as your baby is born. This is a critical time in the bonding process. After that take every opportunity to hug, kiss, bath and play with your kids. It is my experience that hands-on parents get the most out of being a parent.