Learning from past mistakes and overcoming three main challenges to stay productive and disciplined even while everything else at home seems to be falling upside down!
How time flies!
Two weeks ago, my wife started getting her first serious contractions.
Every few minutes she would be hit by big pain that would trigger dramatic faces and funny noises.
I would tell myself how lucky I was to be a man. 😉
Within the next few hours, we would be heading to the delivery room.
Although not much had changed for me up until that moment, I felt extremely anxious.
Having one son was extremely fulfilling and fun, but it was not easy. I was wondering how having two kids at home would change our lives…
Thankfully, just a few hours later I was holding our little boy in my hands.
My wife had delivered a gorgeous almost 4 KG baby.
Two days later, the three of us were reunited with our older son Rafael who stayed home with his grandparents.
These two first weeks were extremely joyful and moving.
However, having a newborn in a family can seriously interrupt some of our well-rehearsed routines and habits and can affect our professional productivity.
As this can frustrate ambitious business owners, I want to share with you the 3 main challenges that I encountered during these first 14 days. I also want to emphasize that as second-time parents, both my wife and I had learned that we had to prioritize overcoming these three challenges in order to prevent us from feeling over exhausted and burned out in the long run. This awareness actually helped us cope with our newborn baby and our toddler much better than when we first became parents.
Challenge #1: Lack of Sleep!
Every high-performance study confirms that we need 7-8 hours of sleep to function properly. Without that, we start making poor decisions, act moody and restless and feel exhausted and tired.
Not ideal for parents, nor for business owners.
At the same time, we are all warned about sleepless nights during parenthood. In fact, my cousin who has two five years old twins claims she still does not sleep properly.
But until it hits us, this all sounds very theoretical.
However, once a baby is born, sleep quickly becomes a very valuable commodity!
And although our son is actually a good sleeper, he nevertheless insists on being fed every 2-3 hours.
Ok, it is my wife who feeds him and so this is hardest for her.
But usually, I wake up too.
And it can be a struggle to fall asleep again.
This means waking up on 2-3 occasions every night.
In addition, Rafael, our just under three years old toddler now comes into our bedroom in the middle of the night, because he has forgotten that he is meant to sleep in his own room. My job is to put him to bed every evening and teach him to stay there throughout the whole night. It also means that I have to sleep with my sensors sticking out of my head so I would be able to hear any sounds coming from his room, track Rafa down in the corridor and return him back to his bed.
Unfortunately, this means I have been sleeping less deep and less long than I would like to!
And when I sleep too little, I become irritated, impatient and annoyed very easily, which is not ideal characteristics for a loving husband, dad and business owner.
So, if my sleep rituals have been important in the past, they have now become even more vital.
This is what I try to do every evening:
Once Rafael is asleep, I like to do something relaxing like read, spend time with my wife, take a hot shower or meditate for around twenty minutes. This helps me slow down my thoughts and feel more calm and ready to sleep.
I aim to get to bed by 9:30 am so that I can catch as much quality sleep as possible.
I know this is super early and it does affect my social life, but the alternative is to be completely sleep deprived and unbearable!
I also mitigate sleepless nights by taking short naps during the day. This is only temporarily, but it makes a huge difference.
And while I am not always successful with my new routines, they have allowed me to feel pretty energized and uplifted for a new second-time dad.
Challenge # 2: Exhausted wife
Anyone who saw a woman gives birth will appreciate how powerful she is.
Giving birth is a very exhausting, painful and difficult process, even for husbands. 😉
And you would hope that once the baby is born, the new mother would be able to relocate straight to an adjacent spa and take a one week vacation to recover from a few stressful weeks.
But no chance!
Baby, husband, siblings (and sometimes even her parents who flew in from abroad to help) all need her attention from the very first second the delivery is over.
So instead of resting, she is flooded with new responsibilities, duties and very little sleep. This can obviously make her feel anxious and overwhelmed at times, which makes it so easy to allow a simple dispute escalate into an outright crisis.
However, these are the moments that offer us husbands the perfect opportunity to train our willpower muscles, by practicing to become more loving and patient spouses.
Obviously, this is extremely difficult and becomes an almost impossible task if we didn’t sleep enough.
However, after one or two little incidents, I finally decided to push my limits and become the loving husband my wife deserves in these crucial first weeks, and so have created the following trigger:
Every time I see my wife, I say to myself:
“I was born to make this woman happy!”
I know this sounds cheesy, but it is so true:
Because when my wife is happy, our kids are happy, even our dog becomes happy, and then I am happy too!
And when I am happy, I have no background noise that disrupts my precious and very limited working hours, so it actually also helps my business.
In other words: With a happy wife, life becomes so much easier and fun. 😉
Challenge #3: Lost Rituals
I love to have my routines and schedules.
I worked hard to make them part of my life, and I pride myself on how productive and efficient I have become.
Therefore, it pains me when I see myself dropping them, as I have done during these first two weeks since welcoming our second boy.
For example, I barely do my morning routine, I frequently skip my workout session and completed fewer Powerblocks in these last two weeks than I used to do on a good day.
I don’t want to use lame excuses.
But the reason it has become so difficult for me to follow through with my daily routines is because somehow there is always something that needs to be done:
One of my main tasks is to ensure Rafael does not feel neglected.
So, I spend time with him before taking him to Kindergarten, and after I pick him up again in the late afternoon, and usually also put him to bed. While this is extremely bonding, it leaves me less time for some of my other routines.
Time has become really sacred.
However, I have already started to gain back time by eliminating lots of non-essential commitments and distractions from my schedule and focus on activities that help me move towards my main personal and professional goals.
This means for example I try and prevent any unnecessary meetings. Or, I make sure I only go to the gym if I know I will enjoy the kind of workout that will give me real joy and satisfaction.
So, these are the three main challenges I faced during the first 14 days since the birth of our second child. I know that once I overcome them, I will be able to experience the joy of parenthood without feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and unproductive. And I will become the kind of role model I want my kids to have.
Hopefully, by now you are asking yourself:
But why is this even relevant to me?
Well, of course, if you are expecting to become a parent, I hope I can help you anticipate some of the struggles you may face, and how to overcome them.
But I also realized something really important:
Becoming a mom or dad also offers a great analogy of how amazing moments come with a price tag.
This becomes very apparent if you take an athlete who wins a big competition for the first time:
All of a sudden, the pressure is on, everyone wants to beat him.
In addition, he is being constantly scrutinized by the media, by fans and sponsors.
So, this athlete can choose to enjoy his fame to party hard, enjoy a luxurious lifestyle and care little about what people think of him. However, odds are he will decline just as quickly as he had risen to fame.
Or he can embrace the challenges he faces and sees them as his opportunity to truly become a sports icon. This will require effort and hard work, but it will eventually bring him lasting joy and sustainable success.
But we can also find other examples as well:
Take a business owner who just launched a super successful start-up. From one moment to the next, she bares big responsibilities to prospects, clients, and staff. She can choose to focus solely on her bottom line, and odds are that in the long run, she will face some serious obstacles. Or she can embrace the new challenges of satisfying so many different groups of people. If she succeeds, it is very likely that she will continue to prosper.
Let me give you a third example:
Imagine a young man who proposes to the love of his life. He can now choose to fully commit to his new spouse and continuously work on his relationship so that they hopefully experience a lasting and loving relationship.
Or he can just hope that the sparks of their first date will last forever, and probably witness his marriage crumble.
So what I realized, is that these big occasions give us a choice:
To focus solely on the short-term pleasure moment or put in the effort and commitment to experience more lasting feelings of fulfillment and joy.
Within this spirit, I see the challenges I mentioned above as my big chance to experience new levels of joy and success in the long run.
And that makes me feel super excited and pumped up!
Ok, enough about me.
Share with me below in the comments section of any challenging event you may be facing, but which has the potential to seriously upgrade your life.
And if you want to learn how you can develop the kind of mental toughness that will allow you to persist through big challenges until you experience the outcomes you desire, check out my Ultimate Guide To Mental Toughness.
Featured image source, credit to the owner: Hand of Dad, photograph © Steve Koukoulas / Flickr