This question originally appeared on Quora.
By Jonathan Brill, VP Sales at Software Start-up
I'm going to talk you out of having kids. Before I do, I should mention that I have two beautiful children and feel that I am better at being a father than anything else I've ever done, and there's some stuff I'm pretty good at. Also, everything that happened to me before I had kids seems compressed, to the point where its still kind of there, but almost like it happened to someone else. And that was only three years ago. So anyway, here we go:
- Raising two kids costs us about 4k a month. Not counting college, and any savings, etc. That's just childcare, clothes, toys, books, and a swim class or something. You can lease 2 serviceable Mercedes' for $1k per month. A pretty good rate on a $700k house with nothing down and a 30 year fixed is like $4k per month. You could fly to Maui two weekends a month, every month, and stay in the Grand Wailea, or some such, for $3k per month.
- If you love your spouse as much as I love mine, you should enjoy the time you have together now, because that decreases at an alarming rate once you have kids. No joke. If your kids aren't talking yet (or if they're just mute I guess) it's not as noticeable, but once they hit about two, your meaningful conversations are relegated to naptime and bedtime.
- If you have some hobbies or maybe a job that requires a lot of travel and long hours, you're going to have to choose, every day. You have 18 hours in a day. How much of that time are you spending with your kid? How much is not enough? If you're working 8-5 and their bedtime is 7:30, you've probably got an hour in the morning and maybe two at night. That's three hours a day, minus eating, dressing, bathing, etc. So you have maybe 90 minutes of quality time with your kid. If you have two and they're on different schedules (common when they're young), decrease accordingly. But you have them on weekends, right? Sure, but you're not the only one who wants to see them. And you've got house chores, errands, etc. Your time is no longer your own, and you never have enough for them, much less anything else.
- You like traveling? Ever been on a 26 hour flight and been annoyed at the screaming kids in the row behind you? Well now those kids are yours. Traveling with kids in their first years can be without tragedy, but never optimal. And always requires your normal amount of administration (planning, packing, etc) x4, not to mention cost and sacrifice of stuff you just can't realistically do anymore. If this is on your bucket list, better start checking them off now.
- Remember the first time you had your heart broken? Remember how you wanted to die and nothing ever hurt that much after? Having something happen to one of your kids is many times worse than that. I am blessed, but had a scare with one of them and it was the most traumatic thing I've ever been through. If you live a comfortable life where you're insulated from the highs and lows that come with emotional attachment, having a small human that's completely dependent on you for survival and loves you more than you could love anything in your adult life might not be for you.
- My oldest kid gets up at 6am. Every day. She doesn't get up like we get up either, like she needs time to get going or anything. She literally bursts out of her room every morning like sunlight cresting a mountain. She goes from sleeping to full OMGWTF adrenaline in a nanosecond. She wakes up motivated, like a miniature female version of Patton. Whereas later in the day she's polite, in the morning she commands people. "It's time for you to get up and make oatmeal, dad." Like a boss. What time do you get up on weekends? Ever sleep in? I kind of remember sleeping in. It actually hurts to try and remember it. Like if I lost the sense of smell but could still remember the aroma of fresh baked cookies.
Having said all of that, I'd give up all the money I ever earned to keep being a dad. My wife and I were happy before kids, but there's no question we're happier now. Going to Disneyland with a toddler is more fun than going to Rome or Africa or Hawaii as newlyweds. All of my friends who don't have kids wish they had mine, and every hobby or sport or consulting gig I've given up means nothing to me if it would require giving up a few hours with my kids.
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