Father-of-three: Life’s exponential change curve

Does life change depending on how many kids you have? Father-of-three Mikael shares his special insight with us and explains – with brutal honest humor – how the exponential change curve works in relation to the number of kids.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – Father-of-three and life’s exponential change curve
The change curve is clear.
Photo: Private

I remember worrying about change before I decided to have kids. But in retrospect, I’ve realised that it’s impossible to ever be truly ready. Once you have a reasonably secure setup (love, education, steady income, etc.) you can’t stay on hold indefinitely waiting for the perfect time.

The mythical change is also pretty much what you’d expect under the circumstances, and I don’t know of anyone who looks back and regrets the decision to give up their carefree existence and become a “proper” grown-up.

In retrospect, I’ve realised that it’s impossible to ever be truly ready.

But what may come as a bit of a surprise is how the exponential change curve works in relation to the number of kids you have. So I’ve made an attempt to sum it all up in four vitally important (and wildly generalised) points:

Survival tips for parents of young children (who are fed up with tips)

The first child

The first child crashes into your everyday existence like a comet and turns your world completely upside down. Actually, this is an understatement. You’re at the mercy of a force of nature and, although people tried to warn you, it’s impossible to ever really prepare yourself.

All at once, it becomes painfully clear to you how much they glossed over at antenatal class. And that your NCT group consists of a very random assortment of people who really only have one thing in common – that you all gave in to the urge to procreate at roughly the same time.

To my mind, a person is never entirely trustworthy until they’ve raised at least one child beyond the terrible twos.

You soon realise that most things stay pretty much the same. The only real difference is that you yourself will never again be the most important person in any given situation. Your parents and friends are eager to pitch in and babysit, but most importantly everyone still wants to socialise with you.

Any change in your social life is partly up to you, and the sleepless nights, screaming sessions, nappy changes and other mess you have to endure really leave their mark on you. You turn into a tough SOB, whether you like it or not, and soon reap the benefits of your newfound strength.

To my mind, a person is never entirely trustworthy until they’ve raised at least one child beyond the terrible twos.

New mum? What I wish someone would have told me

The second child

The arrival of your second child transforms you into the picture-perfect family of four. But be warned – your second spell of parental leave will inevitably be a lot more hectic than your first. Expect a lot less money and a lot more things to do. Your friends stop offering to babysit as soon as your second child appears, but if you’re lucky you can still rely on your parents to come to your rescue.

By the way, Volvo must surely have “the second child” to thank for its success.

Those families still stubbornly clinging to life in a tiny starter home are rapidly driven crazy by the challenges of compact living and before they know it, they’ve bought a house in some leafy suburb because “it’s best for the kids”. Everyone who buys a bigger house also runs a 500 per cent higher risk of buying an estate car. Bye bye, sexy two-door sports car. Hello, sensible service agreement and unquestioning security addiction. By the way, Volvo must surely have “the second child” to thank for its success.

Having a second child – the two under two club

The third child

The third child screws up any hope of ever finding a willing babysitter again and makes logistics a nightmare. Trust me on this. A former colleague of mine used to joke that having a third child was not so much adding one child as making everything twice as difficult. There’s many a true word spoken in jest.

With three kids, you’re basically social outcasts; you must either have saintly parents to get any meaningful outside help or you must face the fact that your social life is well and truly dead.

You run the gauntlet every morning from the moment you wake up and each day is a grim struggle for survival.

You run the gauntlet every morning from the moment you wake up and each day is a grim struggle for survival. We’re not talking about a brief breaking-in period here. This is a life sentence, with a recommendation that you serve at least 20 years.

It helps if, in this bruised and battered state, you’ve already had time to sort out your basic material needs and can concentrate on navigating through life with your head barely above water.

That said, so far these are the usual challenges faced by modern families and having three kids is still considered fairly normal.

Birth stories: a dad’s view

The fourth child

The game changer. A change of epic proportions awaits the brave few with the courage to go against the flow and venture into uncharted territory as a parent of four kids. Give up all hope of ever getting invited to someone’s home once you’ve got four kids.

Your persona is now most definitely non grata. You morph into a people-carrier driver the instant Number 4 leaves the birth canal. And everyone knows that once you’re a people-carrier driver, you’re only one step away from becoming “that weird family down the street”.

Give up all hope of ever getting invited to someone’s home once you’ve got four kids.

After the fourth child, the number of offspring you have is irrelevant. So why not close your eyes, release the handbrake and drive off that cliff? Break the sound barrier! You might even find it liberating to ignore all rhyme and reason, and surrender control… Then again, you might not.

 
Photo: Claes Pettersson

Name: Mikael Andersson

Age: 40

Family: A wife (Josefine) and three children (Stella, Tintin and Sammie)

Lives: Hisingen in Gothenburg, Sweden

On parenthood:
The most important thing for me is that my kids grow up as strong and independent people, that they feel free to be who they are, and are fearless and choose their own path. I want them to be nice and kind people, naturally. But most of all, I want them to live secure and happy lives. I want them to have as much fun as possible and never settle for less than they deserve.