7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Dad
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Becoming a dad is the most challenging, yet rewarding thing I have ever done. Although nothing could have prepared me for this experience (not even this blog post!), there are some things I wish I knew before becoming a dad. Below are the 7 things I wish I know before becoming a dad…
1) It’s Expensive. Yes, I did read the articles that state that raising a child until age 18 costs roughly one-quarter million dollars. Take a moment to let that soak in… having a child increases your expenses for the next 18 years by $1,200/month… per child! Get ready for some major adjustments! My wife and I didn’t have to move because we already owned a two-bedroom condo (so no extra housing costs… at least not until baby number two comes along), but child care, doctor’s visits, diapers, food, clothes, and general baby stuff has taken a chunk out of our budget. Oh, and this doesn’t include saving for college. So yes, having a baby is expensive! But would I do things differently if I knew this before becoming a dad? Absolutely not! Having a baby simply forced us to redesign our budget… we made it work. My business continued to grow, so I was able to give myself a “raise,” we cut down a bit on discretionary spending (this wasn’t too difficult because we had much less time to do the things we used to!), and we were also able to refinance our mortgage to a lower interest rate. We have made some adjustments, but being a dad has been worth every penny!
2) Your Schedule Shifts. Before becoming a dad, I was in the habit of starting my workday around 7:00am, and I would often work past 5:30pm. This changed very quickly! My workdays now start around 8:30am because I drop off my daughter at daycare every morning. My day now ends at 4:30pm because I also pick her up from daycare after work. Does this mean I am getting less done? Nope! I have been forced to accomplish more in a shorter timeframe. I have been able to shift my schedule to have more time off from my business, but paradoxically, less time for yourself because of all the added duties of being a dad. It’s all good though! Too bad I didn’t know this before becoming a dad… I could have worked less and spent more time playing!
3) Your Weekends Change. This one is very similar to my schedule shifting, but I thought it was important to mention it. Before becoming a dad, I would put in several hours of work on the weekends. Now I put in little (1-2 hours) to no time into working on the weekend. Does that mean I have more time on the weekends? I wish! My weekends are now spent caring for my lovely daughter with my wife. It is a different kind of work! Can it be exhausting? Yes! Is it amazing to watch her grow up in front of my eyes? Yes! Life is very different now on the weekends. Also, our social calendar now revolves around her nap schedule.
4) It’s Challenging, Yet Rewarding. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, becoming a dad has been the most challenging, yet rewarding experience of my life. I have had more sleepless nights (and sleep interrupted nights) in the first year of being a dad than in my entire life up to this point. “Grumpy Daniel” has made several appearances. I have found it hard to function without much sleep (especially since I don’t drink coffee!). And as much as I love my daughter, caring for her takes up so much of my energy that I am often exhausted at the end of the day (although it has become easier as she has gotten older). There are also a million decisions that need to be made as a parent, which can be very taxing. But even with these challenges, I can’t imagine my life not being a dad. I love this little being with all my heart. I smile and laugh more than I ever have. And I get to experience the world anew through her curious eyes. My favorite part of the day is when I walk her to and from daycare. My little girl has literally changed my life for the better.
5) It’s Not Easy, But You’ll Figure It Out. I was so nervous before my daughter was born. I was about to step into the unknown world of fatherhood. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was wondering what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know anything about being a dad! Becoming a dad is not easy, but you figure it out… quickly. I was thrust into fatherhood on the very first day, so I learned fast… and I haven’t looked back! Every day seems to challenge me as a parent, but every day I figure it out… and I’m sure this will continue the rest of my life because I don’t think I will ever “figure out” parenting completely.
6) It Will Challenge Your Relationships. I don’t understand why anyone would have a child to save a marriage because of how much it challenges your relationships… especially the relationship with your spouse. Becoming a parent will test the best of marriages, but lucky for me, my wife and I built a strong foundation of trust and communication before having a child, so all the challenges we have faced together as parents have only strengthened our marriage. The relationship with my friends and family have also been challenged because I don’t have as much time to spend with them. I have made as much of an effort as possible to make time for them, but sometimes I fall short. Lastly, my dog has probably felt very neglected since my daughter was born since he is no longer the center of attention. Lucky for him, he gets to walk with my daughter and me to daycare every morning, and my daughter is slowly becoming his new best friend (especially when she throws food on the floor!).
7) It Makes You Want to Become a Better Person. The last thing I wish I knew before becoming a dad is that my daughter makes me want to be the best version of myself. When I met my wife, she was an inspiration to me to become the best version of myself. Now, my daughter has amplified that desire. She has inspired me to think about work/life balance so I can spend quality time with her. She has inspired me to focus on my health more so I can be in her life for a very long time. And she has inspired me to be the best possible version of myself so I can set a great example for her as she grows up. It has also brought a renewed focus to search within myself to discover what is truly important to me so I can live a life she can be proud of.
So, there you have it… the 7 things I wish I knew before becoming a dad. What are some things you wish you knew before becoming a parent? If you know someone who just had a baby or is pregnant and needs someone to guide them in adjusting their spending to accommodate, please have them contact us to schedule a consultation. Happy parenting!