A Day in the Life of a Parent

post by Larks · 2021-10-12T14:18:44.822Z · EA · GW · None comments

Many EAs are of an age to be considering having children, and are looking for information about how this will go.

Unfortunately we live in generally a quite age-segregated society. In past times people would have helped their siblings and cousins raise children, so would be intimately aware of the practical details. Alas, if you only have one sibling, leave your family for Boston when you’re 19 and the Bay Area at 23, and then socialise exclusively with other upwardly-mobile 20-and-30 something-year-olds, you might easily lack this sort of very basic knowledge.

One piece of information several people I have spoken to have found useful is just a breakdown of a typical day as a parent of a toddler (1.5 year old). I think a lot of people are so very unclear about the time requirements that even a single data point can be useful, so here is the situation for us:





Note these are average days; covid has made things a bit worse at times, and things are better when grandparents help out etc. In particular, a newborn will not be able to sleep for 11 hours in a row!

In general when the baby is awake she needs one adult on her - the other can be sleeping, working, cooking etc. While looking after her you'll be able to do a little - e.g. email, slack - but not 'proper' work. Having guests over is great - they help keep you company, it's enjoyable to show off the baby, and she likes meeting new people.

Fortunately she sleeps a lot more than we do. This was aided by sleep training, which as you may be aware is a very controversial practice - some parents regard it as cruel to delay responding to a child at night - but one we have no regrets doing. With children it is always hard to know what is due to luck, or genetics, or your parenting, but we have deliberately invested in an extremely consistent sleep routine and the outcomes have been very good. She is happy to go to sleep, doesn’t cry at night, and is happy when she wakes up.

The combination of daycare plus our daughter being a good sleeper means we actually have a lot of time for independent work. Without one or other of these things things would be more tight.  We could have more 'us' time if we used a TV/iPad, because kids seem to find these hypnotic, but we choose to closely limit screen time. Conversely, we are fortunate enough to have a very good daycare; absent this things would be a little more logistically awkward. Hiring a nanny or an au pair becomes increasingly economic with second, third etc. children. Similarly, you can hire a night nurse to help at night.

Obviously this is focused on couples where both members intend to continue working, but I don’t mean to suggest this is the best lifestyle. Stay at home mums do extremely important work! But that’s not a setup I can shed much light on.

Despite the above caveats, hopefully this is helpful to some people, to at least show one possible (out of many) way of organizing life with a young child.


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