By the time my twin sons were born on March 29 of 2016, I was certain about becoming a stay-at-home parent and attempting to fast track the development of my gaming and creative hobbies into a personal brand and home business. Seven months prior to this, my wife and I were less certain about our future as we first discovered that we were having twins during a routine ultrasound for this second pregnancy. The news about our twins was a surprise for both of us, but since we were already planning to have three children, the shock for me was less about the number of children and more about the rate at which our personal and professional time tables had to be expedited to accommodate our extra workload and financial burden.
During our first pregnancy for our daughter, I used to always joke about actually having triplets so that my wife and I could be spared from a second and third pregnancy. And having tempted fate for so long, I feel like a compromise was appropriately delivered to us by now having twins after our first child. And yet despite how irrationally I was processing what was happening, I never lost my clarity on the logistics of our circumstance which made it necessary for us to adjust our personal and professional time tables. Any 3 to 4 year time frame that we had for having our second and third child was at least cut in half, and the only side hustle that could potentially scale to make up for this lost time was my personal brand that I had developed from working on my hobbies and personal interests.
Our bottom line issue was catching up with the child care cost for three children. One child in day care gave us plenty of financial breathing room, two children in day care would have been manageable, however three children in day care was unsustainable. But at least we would have been able to make a smoother transition into becoming a single income household going from two to three children. So as soon as we found out that we were having twins, their due date eventually became my new stay-at-home deadline.
All things considered, we could just as well scale down our lifestyle and extend our time table in order to accommodate our circumstances. We could also scramble to increase our income by asking for a salary increase or by seeking additional employment. However, it didn’t seem natural to back down from a challenge like this, and most of our alternatives limited our freedom and independence to fully realize the future that we envisioned for ourselves. I believe that there are only a handful of experiences in life that can truly test our conviction in who we are and where we see ourselves in the future. So while not taking child care lightly and always acting with precautions to safeguard our children’s future, we accepted the challenge of trying to succeed with a single income household of five and a fledgling home business.
This is where my personal brand was formally realized, even though the idea and concept existed well before any of my children. Yet there is no telling how long I would have taken to mature into a brand, being self aware and honest about my procrastinating and perfectionist nature. Now all that is needed is time, but the only time for me to build a home business as a stay-at-home parent is while the children are asleep or being watched. This productive time is also limited by the need for sleep of my own, and then even the most willing audience isn’t always able to surrender their own time for me to convert into growth and development. However, I believe that the conversion potential at scale makes all the restricted effort and waiting worth while.
Now for a lot of people, I believe that the dream is to have a part-time stay-at-home job or business while reaping the rewards of full-time income and benefits. The Internet and late night infomercials are riddled with products and services that cater to this fantasy with claims of passive income and $1,000+ per week home business models. Even if there is a product or service that can deliver on these promises, I’m certain that the reality of being out hustled by the competition is a serious threat to succeeding in these financial arenas.
I like to imagine that for every part-time hour that I am willing to work towards a goal, there is already someone else working an extra hour for actual full-time results to achieve the same goal. Do I believe it is possible to get comparable full-time results with part-time effort? Sure, but not as a result of any variable that we can control. How else could you explain a scenario where one version of yourself outperforms another version of yourself, but with half the time and/or effort? In my mind, working part-time is like volunteering to be out worked, so in the eat or be eaten world of business, working part-time is like volunteering to lose.
“Working part-time is like volunteering to be out worked, so in the eat or be eaten world of business, working part-time is like volunteering to lose.”
So a concern that I have while transitioning into a stay-at-home parent is for the success of my personal brand, since I can only commit myself part-time. There was even some tension and heated debate between me and my wife about my priorities and personal well-being, as I have been pushing myself to my limit trying to balance being a parent and building a business. The pressure that I put myself under to succeed at both parenting and entrepreneurship made me very defensive about my lack of sleep and energy. At my lowest point, I considered my wife’s concern for me getting enough sleep as a personal attack on my ability to succeed as a stay-at-home parent and entrepreneur.
Needless to say, communication was key to defusing our stress and tension, as well as reestablish trust and understanding. Even as parts of our discussion devolved into circular contradiction, we allowed ourselves the opportunity to work out the holes in our logic and reasoning. Much like the thought or idea that changes once spoken, and then changes again once written down and analyzed; unifying our understanding and intent improved our ability to communicate our thoughts and ideas, as well as continue to advance and evolve our relationship as a whole. Now such exercises may not always be easy, but I believe that having a chance to aggressively defend your actions and understanding against those closest to you is worth the stress and tension if you really want a better perspective on their support and your own conviction.
After our discussion, my wife gained a better understanding of my ambition, and we compromised on a sleep schedule that would maximize my productivity as the twins eventually learn to sleep through the night. On the other hand, I was able to admit that in order for us to be successful, my priorities needed to be able to shift between parenting and business. This is a very conflicting thought to have, but something about it felt very natural. Like an unrealized truth about myself that I was approaching, I needed to do further soul searching to reconcile these emotions.
I didn’t have to look too far to find my answer to this parenting verses business conundrum. I found parallels in my beliefs regarding full-time and part-time entrepreneurship verses full-time and part-time parenting. It’s hard to imagine the same bond being formed between a part-time parent and a full-time parent with their child, in the same way that part-time work should hardly compare to the same work done full-time. From this I also realized that even a full-time parent to multiple children on an individual level required the shifting of attention from one child to another, in a similarly conflicted and yet natural balancing act. And in that moment of understanding, I unwittingly adopted my business as my fourth child.
So it looks like I may have been given my triplets after all, as the birth of the twins created a circumstance with similar demands on my time and energy as fourth child. In hind sight, it makes more sense why I was so aggressively defensive with my wife about my commitment to both parenting and business development. Even if my hustle, skill, talent, knowledge, experience, timing and luck were all factored into variables that enabled me to win over my full-time competitors with part-time effort, what would it say about my passion and conviction for my own business if I gave less than 100%? Now since I already have the passion and conviction and I have yet to complete the x-factor of variables that will allow me to automate my success part-time, why not balance my business with parenting to enable me and my family to have happiness and success in the future?
“What would it say about my passion and conviction for my own business if I gave less than 100%?”
So even in the pursuit of my success and the success of my business, I believe that I’m still putting my children first by showing them what it takes to follow their own dreams and passions with a balanced approach. Through my actions and words I’ll show them that it’s valid to be aggressively defensive about following your dreams and building a future for themselves and their future families with the same commitment to raising a child and even marriage. Much like with raising children and marriage, sometimes you are going to be the only one advocating for the survival and success of your own ambition. So what are YOU willing to adopt like a child or marry like a spouse to love and cultivate unconditionally alongside your family?