I decided to take a few months off from my regular routine when I learned of the arrival of my first child recently. So far so good, but it feels like there is something missing most days. I read ‘The Baby Book’ by Dr. Sears which was quite helpful before and after the our baby’s arrival. If I could only recommend one book to expecting or new parents, this is it. My thoughts on being a startup parent today are very different from before.
I expected things to be harder than they turned out to be in our case. I am glad that this is the case. I did not expect that I would be hustling for crumbs of time 24 hours a day 7 days a week. For instance, if I want to make an important phone call I either need a babysitter, Juliana, or a bottle of milk combined with a good measure of luck and some lead time to get the baby to sleep. Going to a coffee meeting isn’t that challenging provided that it is within walking distance which is easy when you live downtown. Trying to get any work done that requires more than a 30-45 minute focus is nearly impossible without someone to watch the baby or the baby being in nap mode.
Having a baby is like being a startup founder in other ways as well. You need a support network. If you have parents who are more than a short commute away then you will consider making some major life changes very quickly. In many ways this is like choosing to be a solo founder vs. finding co-founders early on. Having friends and family nearby is a great thing.
Overall, I really did not know what people meant when they kept saying that having a kid will change your life but I do now. Everything is different. And I really do mean everything. In good ways for the most part.
As you might expect, as an entrepreneur I am looking at things and coming up with businesses and solutions to the countless pain points associated with parenting. I thought about doing a kickstarter for a clothing line, but the time bank required to go meet with a seamstress has not received any investments yet. I started thinking about apps for just past the horizon in the e-learning, mentoring, and other categories. So far nothing has stuck. I’m not determined to find a startup related to being a parent, but it is very tempting. The 4Moms company has certainly cornered the Apple tile on the baby monopoly board.
One thing that I really do think there is some opportunity around is early childhood learning. Whether it is the flash cards and flash card apps or the books on how to be a parent, there is a huge gaping hole that exits. The books out there are largely conceptual, but not constructive. At least not for early childhood. I can’t tell you how many books I have read that have said the exact same thing one of several different ways. There isn’t a lot of innovation going on. Kristin Barnett’s ‘The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius‘ is so far among the better reads that I have encountered simply because it tells of how one parent parented in some very uncharted waters. The book is well written and interesting so it is a good read all around which helps. Most books on early parenting or early childhood development promise big, but then there is a drop off in the second or third chapter and things digress to repetitive mush or childhood development almanacs like those found all over the place. There isn’t much quality reading in this category that I have found so far. Children’s books are also quite disappointing in many cases, but I’m not too harsh of a critic (a funny critique of Goodnight Moon).
One thing is certain, becoming a parent has lead to a substantial increase in my pursuit of comedy relief and the humorous side of life. Today I discovered a blog called ‘The Ugly Volvo‘ which is quite funny.
As a new parent and an entrepreneurial parent, I am always on the lookout for more interesting reading (e.g. blogs, books, articles), online video content (e.g. Coursera, Youtube), and interesting programs. Some of the best insights that I have found so far have come from a friend of Juliana’s who taught for the Stanford University Online High School. Email me if you have suggestions, are interested in chatting about any of this stuff, etc.
Last, but not least, I can say with certainty that our assumptions about women in workforce deserve much more attention. I think it is assumed that women are different than men generally, but my experiences as a new parent staying home to spend time with my first child are enough to convince me that a) this isn’t just a male vs. female thing, and b) that women have a much tougher time than men do during the period leading up to giving birth and during the first year of being a parent. This is as much an economic issue (child care isn’t consistently high quality or cheap) as it is a people in the workplace being considered fairly by employers, coworkers and government.