Monday July 15th, 2019 // Early Morning
Starting around two weeks before my little guy arrived I did something I want to recommend to any dad-to-be — I ceased work on anything or any task that isn’t directly related to my pregnant wife and unborn child.
I’ve kept this mindset going through his first three weeks of life (where I’m at currently) and want to share some thoughts on this experience.
First off, I’m mega sleepy right now. Little guy had his worst night to date. It also didn’t help I drank caffeine at 5:00 PM and 7:30 PM (whoops). Here’s a glimpse at the past week of sleep:
Yeah… rough night. Note: Tuesday’s sleep is unusually high because my sleep has been so off it counted some of Monday’s evening nap as hours for Tuesday. Despite the lack of sleep, I have been able to keep it together for the most part. And it’s because I’ve done absolutely nothing but focus on caring for my wife and child.
I was fortunate to get some paid paternity leave and went back to work on Wednesday. Thankfully I was able to work remotely on Thursday and Friday so I was eased back in as gently as possible. I’m using another day of paternity leave today (Monday) so reality sets back in tomorrow as my schedule goes roughly back to normal.
I’m pretty much a natural hustler when it comes to side projects and keeping myself busy. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows — perpetually packing my schedule to the brim and creating overflowing to-do lists has probably caused more anxiety than the benefits of #thehustlelife.
I made a conscious choice that before he got here that I’d stop all the shenanigans for some time. No more freelance work. No pushing myself to go to the gym (lol that didn’t take much effort). No staying late at the office. No blogging. No social outings.
Then I continued and expanded on this once my son was born. I live and die by my calendar. Each day there’s always several things jotted down on it for me to accomplish. I literally went in and deleted everything. No reminders about working on my side business. No reminders about doing a weekly review of OmniFocus. No reminders about reaching out to clients about potential work. Just empty space.
To go a step further, my phone has been in Do Not Disturb mode this entire time. Text messages and calls are automatically silenced. Work can’t get ahold of me. Cousins can’t get ahold of me. Telemarketers can’t get ahold of me.
Here’s what I found… the past few weeks have been the most relaxing and productive weeks of my life.
By clearing my schedule, putting away the to-do list, and virtually turning my phone off I’ve been able to solely focus on my recovering wife and newborn child. Nobody can take this time away from me. Nobody could have taken this time from me.
A few years ago I spent three weeks in Vietnam. The trip concluded with ~six days in a beach resort. It’s the first resort-type stay I have ever had. It was a similar situation — no calendar, no calls, no to-do list. Six days was just enough time to start to decompress. Then all of a sudden I was on a 30 hour flight home, jet-lagged, and back in the office.
Today, some 5+ weeks into this cleared schedule approach, is the lightest I can remember feeling. As someone who is generally pretty anxious, I’ve been the opposite. Maybe it’s because I’m not constantly being bombarded with to-do’s I’m not going to do and digital requests from people.
But Josh… haven’t you been blogging the past few weeks?!
Yes. I’ve blogged more here and on my other site than I have in years. YEARS. Why? I’ve had nothing else to do after my kid falls asleep and sticks me in Nap Jail. Sure, there are bottles to clean. He has pediatrician appointments. The dog needs to be walked. And there’s 1,000 items in OmniFocus I could be doing. But I’m deliberately ignoring them. They can wait. So… I write.
It feels good. I haven’t felt good writing in a long time. And the only reasonable conclusion I can make is that it’s because I have nothing else weighing my mind down. The words flow easy; something they haven’t done for a few years.
Dads and dads-to-be. I cannot urge you enough to do the same. I’m more relaxed than any vacation made me. Being this relaxed will help you at 3:00 AM when your kid will not go to sleep and will only be quiet when you rock them. That was me just a few hours ago. The only reason I wasn’t losing my mind and why I’m blogging on three hours of sleep is because I cleared my schedule, turned off the to-do list, and silenced my phone.
– Josh // tired but surviving