PREFACE: At points this piece may sound like a condemnation on having children. It is not. My children are blessings to me and my wife and we wouldn’t trade them in for anything. What this piece is meant to be is a warning and a heads-up to soon-to-be or prospective parents. Many of the changes that come with having children are subtle and some are dramatic. In any event it is important that you be aware of them because not accepting them will erode your peace.
Claustrophobia is the fear of having no escape and being closed in small spaces or rooms. It is typically classified as an anxiety disorder and often results in panic attack, and can be the result of many situations or stimuli, including elevators crowded to capacity, windowless rooms, and even tight-necked clothing.
– definition from Wikipedia
My wife and I got together in 2006 although we didn’t really become serious about each other until 2007. Once we became serious and devoted, we had a lot of fun (events, travel, all-new experiences, and seeing the world). We got married in 2008 and made a promise to each other to wait at least a year before trying to have kids. This turned out to be one of the better decisions that we’ve made together as it gave us even more opportunity to draw close to each other and expand our horizons. We kept at this until early 2010 when my wife became pregnant and we started our new journey as parents.
Once we moved deeper into pregnancy and later parenthood, our travels ceased. This is due to the fact that we wanted to give our kids a steady environment (in which they thrived) as much as any other factors (far fewer funds, many more travel considerations, impact of new environments on infants/toddlers). We had both the means and the will to take care of our children from home and so that is what we have done. Where that has changed our lives, mine in particular, is in the scope of the world we see. My wife and I both work in professions where we work with professionals all around the globe. That said, hearing someone tell you about Brazil or California or Belgium or Sydney or Japan will never be like being there yourself.
If you are a person who has already done a lot of traveling, or isn’t much interested in traveling now…then this is not an issue for you. If you are a person who wants to do a lot of traveling and hasn’t done enough to sate you, this is a major issue for you. This is a major issue for me.
With two exceptions (a funeral in the family and a vacation last year), we have stayed within two connecting counties of our state. In truth, other than work we stay in our own county 99% of our non-working time. We can get pretty much all material things that we need just within our own town, which is where we stay 95% of our non-working time. For some this would be a blessing. For others this is a curse. For me, it is a prison sentence. My world had become a very tiny place and it was gradually eating away at me and making me anxious. The sense of seeing the same things, same places and same people all of the time has been pushing me toward panic. When you are someone like me and most of your living happens in your living room, it becomes a dying room.
Our reasons for having cut down on travel (not universal, but common enough) are simply that with very young children they get into a rhythm. They eat at a certain time, sleep at certain times, and play at certain times. If you stray too far from their schedule, particularly when it comes to food or sleep, there will be hell to pay. Not much can disrupt a meal at a restaurant like a bored or overly hungry child. Not much can make driving as painful an experience like a bored and restless child. Very few things make going for a night out as anxious as the prospect of one or more children throwing a fit. It can be very limiting on your options and your decisions. When you factor in what it costs for babysitting, limited options for overnight or extended babysitting, and just a general lack of energy for anything else besides taking care of the family, you will quickly find that your travels and your entertainment options dwindle. You stay close to home, don’t go out for very long or at all. That is where we find ourselves today.
As with all things, the ways out are three:
- Go back to doing what you used to do (and make if feasible).
- Continue doing what you are doing (and make it enjoyable/tolerable)
- Find a new way to do what you want (and make it feasible as well as enjoyable).
Option 1 simply is not feasible while our children are still so young. As much as I would like us to get out more often, it’s not affordable to have babysitters that often. Frankly it’s questionable whether Option 1 will be feasible ever again.
Option 2 is not sustainable for me. I love my family dearly but I am experiencing a form of claustrophobia that really does need to be addressed. That is for me to figure out as it appears it is primarily affecting me.
Option 3 appears to be the best course of action, both for me and my family. While I have said this primarily affects me, it does not only affect me. My wife said to me the other day that one of the things I could do to make her feel more loved is “to be happy again”. That hasn’t been the case and it is impacting all aspects of my life. Whether it is finding ways to travel in kid-friendly accommodations or using babysitters more often or simply going out on my own with greater regularity, I have to change this prognosis because the side-effects are hurting my family, my work, my health and my life.
- 6 Ways To Get Your Mojo Back and Jumpstart Your Life (carpebootium.com)
- Let’s Talk Parenting Taboos (ted.com)
- What’s Your Name? (carpebootium.com)
- Be Grateful (carpebootium.com)