Friday, December 1, 2017

How Does The Baby Affect Stress?

Posted by theboat On December 01, 2017 30 comments
Having a baby changes your life. Everyone knows this. What I haven't really seen though is a really accurate picture of how it affects your stress level. I probably can't provide that picture either for many reasons, but here is my attempt at capturing some obvious and some non-obvious ways that a baby affects our stress levels.



They make almost everything you do harder

It's really hard to capture how a child adds stress. When I previously thought of stress, it's like when you're going into a job interview and you have an overwhelming amount of it and then it resolves, like when you work a job you hate and deal with angry customers that you don't care about but then you go home, etc. The best way I can describe how a child differs is that it makes everything you do harder. It's a constant stress that's added to everything and never goes away.

A good example is my morning routine. Previously, it was:
  • get up
  • shower if it's a shower day
  • eat a banana
  • brush teeth
  • go to work
My current routine is:
  • get up
  • shower if it's a shower day
  • wake up my son
  • calm him down (he's really cranky when I wake him up)
  • figure out what he'll eat that day (this often means prepare 3 or 4 different breakfasts for him)
  • play with him while he eats so he doesn't get fussy and refuse to eat
  • eat my banana
  • brush teeth
  • change his diaper and get him dressed
  • gather his items for daycare
  • convince him to go to daycare and put on his shoes
  • load him into the car
  • take him to daycare
  • go to work
None of those extra steps are awful. Most are actually really fun. It makes that routine significantly longer though. It's typically over an hour each morning now. Extrapolate this to everything you do (grocery shopping, going to restaurants, etc.), and it really adds up.

They make it much harder to find a place to live

I wrote about this previously. It's still ongoing. There's just so much to balance. You have to find somewhere with ok schools. You have to find somewhere with a short commute since you have less time (see above). You have to find somewhere that you can stay for a long time since you don't want to move constantly with a kid. You need more space. 

This could fit into the previous point, but I felt like it was important enough to call out as separate.

They make the future much more frightening

I wrote about something related to this previously. It's gotten stronger since then so I'll expand...

I lean slightly pessimistic about many things. Specifically related to this, I have little confidence that society will be able to sustain itself in its current form for the entirety of my life. I run another site focused on global warming that deals a lot with the impacts of it. The science is very clear and readily available. I have seen nothing that makes me optimistic about that and have recently moved into the 'this will likely destroy society' camp. I'm not in the 'this will make humans extinct' camp. I'm more in the 'this will likely be significantly worse than WWII and more like a global plague level of destruction' camp.

This is all fine. I've accepted all of this. My son has not though. He can't yet...he's only two. I want something else for his future, but I am powerless to stop it. I can't even get my immediate family to care about his future (see the next point in this post). It took me a really long time to convince myself it was okay to have a child, and I still question if I was just selfish when I went ahead with it.

How do I even explain this to him? Do I lie to try to make him feel better about the world until he discovers on his own? Do we try to move somewhere that will fare better than most of the world? If so, how much should I give up in salary to do that? I struggle a lot with this one...


They create fights you weren't expecting

There's the obvious ones between exhausted parents. That's not what I'm referring to. The ones I'm talking about are less obvious, and an example I'll provide is one related to politics.

My parents and I have very different political views. They are against environmental protection, for an evangelical theocracy, etc. Supporting politicians who share their views directly hurts my child.
Before having a kid, I just considered those awful views and moved on. Now I can't help but see those as direct attacks on my child's (and their grandchild's) future and defend him.

This creates a stressful situation that I haven't figured out how to resolve. My approach so far has been to try to educate them on how harmful some of these are for him. Unfortunately, it turns out they know and do not care, so we're still evaluating where to go from here.

This is not the only example I have, but it is a clear one of a fight I didn't expect to be having. I am certain I will have a lot more like this once he starts school.


They are expensive

This one is  probably the one that everyone thinks about. People cost money to keep alive. They cost more money if you want to improve their quality of life. Estimates vary. I'll put up a post soon about the cost of his first two years, but I'm estimating right now that we've effectively spent >$40,000 on him in two years. We have to pay for college someday also.

There is a cost that many people might not factor in though, and that's how they affect your income. I know for a fact that I could work a job with slightly longer hours and make significantly more money. (e.g., >$30k/year more). I choose not to because I want to be around for him. This seems like a good choice as he is significantly happier when we are around him, and he really loves attention from us. What is the cutoff though? I obviously can't quit my job to be with him. Could I take something working 30 hours a week to get even more time with him?

They are always there

If you always have roommates and always do stuff with people, this may not apply to you. I prefer being alone in a quiet place. I'm much better at my job when I telecommute and I spend most of my free time making a science website. I don't generally want to be bothered.

My son does not care. He wants to sit next to me all the time. He likes to stand outside the bathroom and let my wife know when I'm pooping. It's really funny because he'll just scream 'Daddy eh eh' or 'Daddy poop' to let her know in case she is confused about what was happening. He wants to do puzzles together and tell me what picture is on each piece.

When I play guitar, I have to stop every couple of minutes to let him touch the strings and giggle. I haven't attempted to record any music since he was born because it seems nearly impossible.

I asked a coworker to describe the stress of having children, and his description was that he's 'always on' in that there's never a time when he's not having to be responsible for something.

They cause you to sleep less

This is another one that everyone probably thinks about. When they're babies especially, you have to feed them all the time so there's no way around this.

What's maybe not obvious is that this doesn't go away. You have the 'things are harder' one that I mentioned that cuts into your free time. You also have all of these points combining to make it harder to sleep well (assuming you sleep poorly when stressed).

There's another one that might not be obvious in that his schedule is your schedule (at least one parent's). When the child wakes up at 7 AM saying 'Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!' over and over, sleep is over for at least one of you. If you want to nap and he wants to play, you're going to play.

The net effect of all of these is less sleep.

They expose your weaknesses

Kids are not independent, especially early on. You have to keep them alive and make them productive members of society. They also pick up on what you do. This is a recipe for them exposing your weaknesses.

As an example, I will sometimes get extremely anxious about a specific thing and have trouble moving forward. It's great for optimization problems at work and really helped as a physics student, but it's awful for almost everything else. When my son was approximately one, I did this about buying a house. We live in Austin which is an extremely competitive and overpriced housing market but we could afford one (at that time) so we were strongly considering it. 

During one particularly stressful period of this, I went into my anxious mode of only sleeping 2-3 hours a night for a stretch and talking only about this topic. He was really uncomfortable with me being that way and was freaked out also while it was going on and I was not there to console him. I still feel bad about that period, and I know I will do this again because it's just my nature.

This is minor but it is an example of what I'm talking about. 


They cause you to stop being you

I can't think of a better way to phrase this. It's sort of like marriage in that now it's not just me pursuing what's best for me, but us pursuing what's best for us. 

The me that existed when I was in college is effectively dead. I'm a completely different person now with different priorities. I would not think twice about donating a kidney to them.

I tell dad jokes now. I have some random kids' songs that I enjoy on youtube. When we plan trips, he's just as much a factor in what we'll do for fun as anyone else. I've actually considered what type of work would make him proud of me and have strongly considered changing jobs because of it.


Conclusion

This obviously doesn't capture all of the ways that a child can introduce stress, but hopefully it gives some perspective to anyone wanting a blunt assessment of it.

It is important to note that as a whole, the positives of having a child outweigh the negatives so far. Many of these create joy along with stress (not the money one, but most of the others). It would just be irresponsible to not make it clear that having a child means signing up for all of this in case anyone is on the fence and needs to know this.

As a final note, the relative weight of these stresses will vary from person to person. I am extremely privileged. I am a white, male, US citizen. My family received some government assistance when I was younger. I received scholarships to a public school and my parents paid many expenses so I did not graduate with debt. My wife and I have high-paying jobs. She graduated with very little student debt that we paid off immediately. We have no significant disabilities. We did nothing to earn most of that. I would assume the time and money stresses are higher for someone less privileged.

30 comments :

  1. Making a video of your company for promotion purpose or send a message to prospective customers has been confirmed as a successful plan for different businesses. Now, you can contact with Top TV Production Companies in Dubai and produce a video for your online marketing and advertising campaign. Video Production in UAE

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is an amazing research. I liked all the detail. Your article for this website is a good effort. This is a really wonder experience to visit your website. 
    Dissertation Experts

    ReplyDelete
  3. There are different types of cars on the road nowadays and so many that are not suitable with safety measurements. Some cars are in requirements of replacements or repair due to crash. Though, there are gx470 accessories available online that you can purchase to make secure your car from any unforeseen accident. gx 470

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is good research.. Your article is good efforts in this.. thanks a lot for sharing.. myassignmenthelp

    ReplyDelete
  5. Much obliged for sharing. I seek it will be useful after an excessive number of individuals that are scanning for this point.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is the kiznd of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that's at the other blogs. Buy Assignments Online

    ReplyDelete
  7. Science Channel’s Are Giving A Complete Knowledge To Its Viewers About Every Thing Students Write Done Dissertation On This Subjects And Show Its Importance.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Cute article. Lot of tips to avoid baby`s stress. I want to add one more activity to your list of daily routine for the children. After the breakfast better spend time at the play yard and then after the relief go to study.
    http://www.best-pack-n-play.com/top-6-playards-bassinet/

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello,
    I am Sophia Miller
    thanks for sharing this post.

    provide you best Assignment help Australia anytime.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for sharing this. The blog is very informative. We also provide affordable MBA Assignment help in uk.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Have you measured your life with a mug of coffee??, Do you turn coffee into theorem or do you take it to be awake? We as nesco coffee roaster supplies quality and still at minimal price coffee roasters. Grab yours today.

    ReplyDelete

  12. What a nice blog! I have enjoyed reading through the article although I landed on this site while I was looking for data analysis assignment help . I will be visiting this site occasionally to read more interesting and intriguing articles. I hope the writer will continually keep us updated with new information.


    ReplyDelete
  13. What a nice blog! I have enjoyed reading through the article although I landed on this site while I was looking for irrigation equipment suppliers in Kenya. I will be visiting this site occasionally to read more interesting and intriguing articles. I hope the writer will continually keep us updated with new information.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Best piece of info ever looking forward for more, having a sparkling clean concrete surface can be difficult at times. It requires a lot of effort and time to clean the tough stains and dirt. However, the cleaning of this stubborn dirt and stains can become easier when you are cleaning with the best concrete cleaner. Get one from Best Concrete Cleaner for Pressure Washer

    ReplyDelete
  15. In effect, new knowledge about the impact of stress on the brain and the pervasive influence of an individual's stress on the whole system gives us a plain choice.Royal CBD gummies

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you for sharing this blog...I am huge fan of your blogs and always follow you...Please keep posting....

    ReplyDelete
  17. Assignment Help services work like wonder when you don't have sufficient time to write your homework. Take the guidance of professional academic writers using online academic writing and finish your work as soon as possible even if you are in Australia.
    Assignment Help Online
    Online Assignment Help
    Assignment Help Australia

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for this wonderful information share and excellent information providing by your article. Are you looking for assignment help services in Singapore? Do you require to finish your assignment? Singapore assignment help is a well-liked assignment Acquire immediate Assignment Help before completion of time at a fair cost. Kindly visit the LiveWebTutors website…

    ReplyDelete
  19. After that surviving an auto-related injury, my beloved Labrador mix, Lucky, began to display unusual health warnings Royal CBD oil

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a chance to have read your blog. Thank you. Kindly keep updating us on new articles. Are you looking for the best air purifier with a washable filter? Would you like to find an air purifier with a permanent filter that never needs a replacement? If so, Visit Best Air Purifier with Metal Filter for more.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I never thought I will come in contact with a real and potential hacker until I knew   brillianthackers800 at Gmail and he delivered a professional job,he is intelligent and understanding to control jobs that comes his way
    Contact him and be happy

    ReplyDelete
  22. It is very important to remove the source of the stress, check my source if possible, by taking control and being active. For example, rather than being a victim of bullying in the workplace, you may choose to either put in a complaint or move post.

    ReplyDelete
  23. What an informative article. Tell you what I have bookmarked your website for regular checkup. Thank you for taking time to share such a great content. Are you puzzling about who to contact for Nursing Writing Services? Could it be that you are working on a tight budget yet need high-quality nursing-related assignments? Is it the efficiency that you are looking for? Well, with the popularity that the nursing course has gained over the years, there are a lot of gaps to fill in the health sector. Read more on Nursing Writing Services.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have recently started a blog, the info you provide on this site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work https://bytebell.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. his fabric can be utilized to fabricate garments that stand firm against wrinkling all through wearing and have a delicate care for washing and tumble drying. CBD/CBG FLOWER

    ReplyDelete
  26. The blog written is extremely impressive, with a great topic. However, a bit more research could have strengthened it even further. You can explore the services as offered by livewebtutors.com, a premium academic writing services platform offering the best of Proofreading Editing Service teamed with knowledge and experience.

    ReplyDelete