I want to be Emily when I grow up, the toddler says. She is holding a toy cellphone. A waist pouch containing lip gloss and money. When she saw me giving her big sister a cellphone, she ran and got her toy. Will it fit in my pouch? she asks. Yes. I give her one of my business cards to keep with the phone. There. Now you have a waist pouch exactly like the one your sister wears when we go out on adventures.
Having a baby who can keep up with the rest of the family is a huge part of why I have been able to accelerate my career while my children are young. When my husband and I discussed having a third child, we held our breath. Would it be a girl who would sleep through the night at a young age like her sister? Or a boy who never slept? We would love a third child no matter what gender, but having a girl would be easier.
And at the twelve-week pregnancy ultrasound? We found out we were having a second daughter. Who began sleeping through the night almost immediately after she was born.
Parenthood has taught me to expect nothing but be ready for anything. From time management to food shopping, every day is full of surprises. The first six years were an absolute nightmare. And I have bad days even now, nine years into parenting. But something happened when I hit the six year mark. Instead of being felled by surprises, I began to incorporate them into my routine. Kid refusing to go to school? Okay, sleep in while I work at the laptop a few feet away. It is actually easier to work when my toddler stays home since I do not have to deal with disruptions to drop her off and pick her up. I can stay in pajamas and feed her at intervals. Cook together. Work while she plays and naps.
Most expertise takes six years of constant work to develop. If you can survive the first six years of hands-on parenting, you may find that you have made an investment that lasts a lifetime.
Kathy Zucker is an international social media Shorty Award winner, mother of three and a startup founder at companies including the Metro Moms Network®.