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Babymoon = Space to plan

1
Leo J-E blogs at buildingahuman.home.blog

Babymoon = Space to Plan

This seems as good a place to start as any!

Babymoons are all the rage now, apparently. Our first baby is due in a little under 4 months, we’re in the middle of a major house renovation and there is very little money left in the bank, so definitely time for a holiday.

We chose Mallorca, having never been there before, as it’s hot(ish) in April and very beautiful, with easy access to incredible beaches, hikes, open vistas, etc. Lots of people have said how important it is

theFMLYman.com
2
for us to get away now, before the baby comes, attaching to it always that requisite joke about it being our last chance ever. Does the idea of having a baby always have to come attached to that sense of impending doom. Or is this the first of many moments that will lead my future-self shaking his head at my naivete?

It turns out that Mallorca was perfect anyway. The temperature did stay high and although it was not all the midnight strolls along the beach that I had imagined, we did manage to walk and explore every day at only a very slightly slower

theFMLYman.com
3
pace than we would normally. Emily managed a full-on hike down to a beautiful beach and I was just about brave enough to get into the Spring sea, only to immediately get stung by a jellyfish.

The real pleasure though was having the space to think about who we are now and plan how we want our lives and the lives of our children to be over the next ten years or so. We have been together for 12 years, since we were teenagers ourselves, and have made lots of plans and we have various dreams for the future. It is important to both of us that having

theFMLYman.com
4
children doesn’t mean accepting all of the impending doom chat and giving up on ever having time to ourselves again or achieving any of our plans. At the same time, we intend to raise children who are thoughtful, kind and interesting. In other words, we want to build good humans. I say all of this fully aware that I am inviting an awful lot of head shaking but it seems to me that our best chance at achieving everything we want is to be really clear about it upfront, write it down and then chart the process. So head-shake away!

The Plan

True to

theFMLYman.com
5
all of the above, there are certain fundamental things we want to do and writing them down seems like the next logical step:

1. Build good humans

This is easily the most important of everything we want to do. If we get this right, we’ve already won in my view – everything else is just a bonus! So we need some criteria – what makes a good human?

I’m not sure that there is a single list of attributes I could write down and I definitely don’t think you can (or should) be very prescriptive about who they might turn out to be but there are

theFMLYman.com
6
certain fundamentals. In my book, someone who is kind, confident, independent and respectful of others is a pretty good human. Of course, I’d also like them to be funny and intelligent and culturally curious and musically fantastic and a really super prime-minister but I’m not going to be too prescriptive about it!

How do we plan to achieve this? From what I gather so far, the best way is to model the behaviour yourself. We try our best to tick these boxes and hope we will as parents.

2. Share the load

It’s 2019. Emily is the breadwinner

theFMLYman.com
7
in our house and probably always will be. I am the one who has pushed for years to have children. It is not acceptable to either of us that project human should turn into her project. More often than not, things seem to quickly slip this way after a baby is born for a bunch of reasons, societal and biological, but by marking it out now and saying we’re determined to avoid it, at least we have a standard to hold ourselves to. As a teacher, I’m very lucky to have a lot of holiday time, which means I can be just as involved as Emily for large chunks of
theFMLYman.com
8
the year. I can do night-time feeds, I can organise days out, I can clean the house, walk the dog, etc. Emily’s fear is that she will lose herself and forget her friends. I am determined not to let that happen.

3. Keep living without relying on screens

I think that the vast majority of doom and gloom (there is a lot, however it’s dressed up) about having children is down to people losing sight of their own lives a little. Again, no idea what I’m saying and all that, but I just don’t believe that having a baby means that you can never go to

theFMLYman.com
9
the pub again or go to a friend’s for dinner or whatever. I also don’t accept that this is only a temporary measure whilst the baby is still breastfeeding or during sleep-training or whatever. I think you have to start how you mean to go on. If that means taking the baby to pubs all over town or just Emily expressing milk early on so that we can take turns to go out and do other things or ask one of our parents to spend the night once every couple of weeks then that’s what we’ll do. Things that might stop us?

Guilt that it’s not all about

theFMLYman.com
10
the baby.
The idea that nobody else can protect them like us.
An honest desire to do nothing but spend time as a family.
An unwillingness to inflict our baby on friends.

These are all realistic stumbling blocks, I know. We have a puppy (I know it’s not the same), who we love like mad and we already experience most if not all of these. But I honestly believe that you have to look after yourself first in order to look after others. We get the most pleasure out of seeing friends and it seems to me that if we continue to prioritise this then

theFMLYman.com
11
that gives us the best chance of enjoying the journey, which gives us the best chance of modelling all the things we want to model.

4. Live abroad with still young children

5. Instil confidence in using foreign languages

These last two fit quite nicely together, although number 5 is probably more my thing than Emily’s. I love language and don’t believe that there is any such thing as being “bad at languages.” Like many British people, however, I don’t speak any other language fluently. Only as an adult have I really understood the

theFMLYman.com
12
importance of it and taught myself Italian. During my degree, I had to read in Latin, French and Spanish and use Italian a lot, so I have varying degrees of confidence with those languages. Emily, like me, very much grew up thinking herself to be bad at languages and is still not super confident but this is slowly changing! Many of our friends are from all over Europe and most of those are bilingual or even multilingual. I believe this simple fact definitely makes them more interesting and much more culturally engaged, not to mention all the obvious
theFMLYman.com
13
opportunities that come with speaking multiple languages. Most people can agree that we have a real problem with this in the UK, for whatever reason, and I am determined not to let it inhibit our own children.

The plan? The obvious thing would be to live in Italy. The main reason we want to live abroad is for the adventure and to take us out of our comfort zone but also to give our children the opportunities to learn other languages. Then again, Emily’s job is probably much better suited to somewhere like East Africa, which would obviously be a big

theFMLYman.com
14
adventure in itself and definitely tick the different culture box for our children, so who knows. Maybe it will have to be both?

So those are our main plans we want to stay true to, I think. Of course, the strategies will have to change as our children grow up and there is still a whole mess of other things that I’ve not covered but if we can start out by meeting the five things I’ve included here, I’d be pretty happy with that! The other thing to say is that I have privilege practically coming out of my ears. I’m a white male, married, with

theFMLYman.com
15
parental support and both of us have full-time jobs. I can only write about my own experience and from my own perspective and nothing I say here is intended to cause offence or preach to others.

So, three and a half months until they arrive. I’m excited.

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- 27th Apr 19

Leo J-E blogs at buildingahuman.home.blog

Babymoon = Space to Plan

This seems as good a place to start as any!

Babymoons are all the rage now, apparently. Our first baby is due in a little under 4 months, we’re in the middle of a major house renovation and there is very little money left in the bank, so definitely time for a holiday.

We chose Mallorca, having never been there before, as it’s hot(ish) in April and very beautiful, with easy access to incredible beaches, hikes, open vistas, etc. Lots of people have said how important it is for us to get away now, before the baby comes, attaching to it always that requisite joke about it being our last chance ever. Does the idea of having a baby always have to come attached to that sense of impending doom. Or is this the first of many moments that will lead my future-self shaking his head at my naivete?

It turns out that Mallorca was perfect anyway. The temperature did stay high and although it was not all the midnight strolls along the beach that I had imagined, we did manage to walk and explore every day at only a very slightly slower pace than we would normally. Emily managed a full-on hike down to a beautiful beach and I was just about brave enough to get into the Spring sea, only to immediately get stung by a jellyfish.

The real pleasure though was having the space to think about who we are now and plan how we want our lives and the lives of our children to be over the next ten years or so. We have been together for 12 years, since we were teenagers ourselves, and have made lots of plans and we have various dreams for the future. It is important to both of us that having children doesn’t mean accepting all of the impending doom chat and giving up on ever having time to ourselves again or achieving any of our plans. At the same time, we intend to raise children who are thoughtful, kind and interesting. In other words, we want to build good humans. I say all of this fully aware that I am inviting an awful lot of head shaking but it seems to me that our best chance at achieving everything we want is to be really clear about it upfront, write it down and then chart the process. So head-shake away!

The Plan

True to all of the above, there are certain fundamental things we want to do and writing them down seems like the next logical step:

1. Build good humans

This is easily the most important of everything we want to do. If we get this right, we’ve already won in my view – everything else is just a bonus! So we need some criteria – what makes a good human?

I’m not sure that there is a single list of attributes I could write down and I definitely don’t think you can (or should) be very prescriptive about who they might turn out to be but there are certain fundamentals. In my book, someone who is kind, confident, independent and respectful of others is a pretty good human. Of course, I’d also like them to be funny and intelligent and culturally curious and musically fantastic and a really super prime-minister but I’m not going to be too prescriptive about it!

How do we plan to achieve this? From what I gather so far, the best way is to model the behaviour yourself. We try our best to tick these boxes and hope we will as parents.

2. Share the load

It’s 2019. Emily is the breadwinner in our house and probably always will be. I am the one who has pushed for years to have children. It is not acceptable to either of us that project human should turn into her project. More often than not, things seem to quickly slip this way after a baby is born for a bunch of reasons, societal and biological, but by marking it out now and saying we’re determined to avoid it, at least we have a standard to hold ourselves to. As a teacher, I’m very lucky to have a lot of holiday time, which means I can be just as involved as Emily for large chunks of the year. I can do night-time feeds, I can organise days out, I can clean the house, walk the dog, etc. Emily’s fear is that she will lose herself and forget her friends. I am determined not to let that happen.

3. Keep living without relying on screens

I think that the vast majority of doom and gloom (there is a lot, however it’s dressed up) about having children is down to people losing sight of their own lives a little. Again, no idea what I’m saying and all that, but I just don’t believe that having a baby means that you can never go to the pub again or go to a friend’s for dinner or whatever. I also don’t accept that this is only a temporary measure whilst the baby is still breastfeeding or during sleep-training or whatever. I think you have to start how you mean to go on. If that means taking the baby to pubs all over town or just Emily expressing milk early on so that we can take turns to go out and do other things or ask one of our parents to spend the night once every couple of weeks then that’s what we’ll do. Things that might stop us?

  • Guilt that it’s not all about the baby.
  • The idea that nobody else can protect them like us.
  • An honest desire to do nothing but spend time as a family.
  • An unwillingness to inflict our baby on friends.

These are all realistic stumbling blocks, I know. We have a puppy (I know it’s not the same), who we love like mad and we already experience most if not all of these. But I honestly believe that you have to look after yourself first in order to look after others. We get the most pleasure out of seeing friends and it seems to me that if we continue to prioritise this then that gives us the best chance of enjoying the journey, which gives us the best chance of modelling all the things we want to model.

4. Live abroad with still young children

5. Instil confidence in using foreign languages

These last two fit quite nicely together, although number 5 is probably more my thing than Emily’s. I love language and don’t believe that there is any such thing as being “bad at languages.” Like many British people, however, I don’t speak any other language fluently. Only as an adult have I really understood the importance of it and taught myself Italian. During my degree, I had to read in Latin, French and Spanish and use Italian a lot, so I have varying degrees of confidence with those languages. Emily, like me, very much grew up thinking herself to be bad at languages and is still not super confident but this is slowly changing! Many of our friends are from all over Europe and most of those are bilingual or even multilingual. I believe this simple fact definitely makes them more interesting and much more culturally engaged, not to mention all the obvious opportunities that come with speaking multiple languages. Most people can agree that we have a real problem with this in the UK, for whatever reason, and I am determined not to let it inhibit our own children.

The plan? The obvious thing would be to live in Italy. The main reason we want to live abroad is for the adventure and to take us out of our comfort zone but also to give our children the opportunities to learn other languages. Then again, Emily’s job is probably much better suited to somewhere like East Africa, which would obviously be a big adventure in itself and definitely tick the different culture box for our children, so who knows. Maybe it will have to be both?

So those are our main plans we want to stay true to, I think. Of course, the strategies will have to change as our children grow up and there is still a whole mess of other things that I’ve not covered but if we can start out by meeting the five things I’ve included here, I’d be pretty happy with that! The other thing to say is that I have privilege practically coming out of my ears. I’m a white male, married, with parental support and both of us have full-time jobs. I can only write about my own experience and from my own perspective and nothing I say here is intended to cause offence or preach to others.

So, three and a half months until they arrive. I’m excited.

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I'm 28 and about to have a baby with my wife, Emily. We have one dog, Charlie, and lots of dreams about how easily this is all going to fit into our life-plan... I am a teacher and Emily works for a charity. I blog at buildingahuman.home.blog

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