It’s the news that is guaranteed to change everything: you’re going to be a parent.
It’s funny how extremely different the reaction to this news will be depending on the person hearing it. For some, this is fantastic news and caps off months, even years, of “trying”. For others, this is the news they dread. They have big plans for their life, and it certainly doesn’t involve kids (at least not for the next few years). I was given the unexpected news that I was to become a father on my 24th birthday (what a present!). My reaction was that of the person filled with dread – this was not what I wanted!
It’s amazing, though, how perspectives can change with time. It is now 19 months since I heard the big news, 11 months since my son was born, and 2 months since I discovered our second child is due in July 2008. During this time I have gone from dreading fatherhood to considering it to be one of the greatest things I will do with my life.
The reason I dreaded being a young parent was that I had always pictured myself as being financially secure and well traveled before taking the big step into fatherhood. I also believed that parental responsibilities would be a huge obstacle in the way of having fun. What I have come to believe, though, is that there are certain myths surrounding parenthood. Sure, you can play the victim and believe them if you want. But it is far more enjoyable to smash them into pieces.
Myth #1: “I can’t afford to have kids”
It’s true that a baby brings with it an assortment of expenses you once would have never considered. The funny thing is, though, you will find a way to make things work. You have to.
Now that I am a parent I am more motivated to succeed than I once could have ever imagined. This motivation has led me to sort out my finances, simplify my life, attain a higher paying job and, perhaps most importantly, establish multiple streams of income. Expenses will inevitably rise when you have kids, but use this as motivation to increase your income and simplify your life.
Myth #2: “I won’t be able to travel”
Ok, so if you have a grand vision of traveling solo across the globe you will need to adjust this after becoming a parent. But there is no reason why kids should stop you from exploring what the world has to offer. For example, when my son was 5 months old we relocated from Australia to Canada. And this is barely scratching the surface of what is possible.
Two of my personal heroes are Tony and Maureen Wheeler, the founders of the Lonely Planet guidebooks. In their autobiography Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story, they recount stories of trekking in Nepal and relocating from Melbourne to San Francisco for a year with their two young children. Rather than letting kids kill their love of travel, they simply found a way to include them.
For more inspiration relating to traveling with kids, see Tim Ferriss’ recent article New Year, New You; How to Travel the World With (or Without) Kids in 2008.
Myth #3: “I won’t be able to have fun”
Have you ever looked back on your younger self and shook your head at what you once considered to be fun? Most of us have, and I make this point because it proves one thing: our idea of what constitutes fun can change. I live a quieter life now that I am a parent, but it is no less enjoyable. I still have a lot of fun, and it is now filled with a richness that only a parent can truly understand.
Of course there are certain types of fun that don’t change and which don’t involve kids. I admit it can be tricky to create free time by yourself or with your partner, but where there is a will there is a way. What is my number one tip for finding time away from the kids? Be good to your parents. One day they will be grandparents and you will appreciate their help.