Babies & Books: Having a family while at Booth
By Holly and Jared Barnett ‘15 | january, 2014, Issue 1
Taysen, the newest member of the Barnett family!
"I think it's coming!" are not the words you want to hear when your wife is in labor and you are still at home. Despite our meticulous planning, within the next 60 seconds I was holding my newborn little girl in the bathroom of our house. Families in general are challenging to manage and may not make the most logical sense in an Excel analysis; however, we believe the intrinsic joy from these relationships is immeasurable.
Below are some ideas from our 8.5 years of marriage that we hope will help you "take the plunge" with a partnership or decision to have children while in business school (or manage those children you already have). We believe you will find the intangible benefits to be some of your most rewarding.
It never makes financial sense. Until Professor Emily Oster, Associate Professor of Economics, values the utility of having children, we don't believe there are many family financial analyses that produce a positive NPV, and that's OK! Rather, we propose that if two people work together, you can make the finances work—you're at Booth, you're smart.
Just Do It. The grass isn't always greener two, ten, or twenty months from now. While you should plan for your marriage or birth of a child, we suggest not waiting for waiting's sake. Today's studying and TNDC obligations will be replaced by business travel and late night prep for presentations. Don't keep discounting your joy from these relationships by keeping them in the future.
Prioritize and establish roles. Develop your priorities together and relentlessly protect them. Agree on the roles each of you will play to achieve your priorities and ensure you are comfortable with them.
Manage expectations. Regularly discuss what your partner expects from you and what you expect from them. Don't overpromise and be honest about what challenges you anticipate. Timing is critical; it's always better to discuss being late for dinner before it's already cold on the table.
Calendaring is key. Know each other's schedules and time commitments. Talk about these in advance and always remember to remind your partner as the date becomes closer (please).
Make friends in similar situations. There is a strong group of Boothies with partners, spouses and/or children. Don't do it alone but leverage this network for tips, babysitting swaps, and even just sharing stories of glories and frustrations. The Booth Partners Group can help you find those who are in your similar situation.
Have fun. Make time to enjoy some guilt-free personal activities, individually and as a couple or family. The simple experiences of taking your child to the park or enjoying a family activity watching your partner play intramural wallyball provide disproportionately positive memories.
While family relationships are not always easy, require meaningful effort, and can even piss you off at times, we've been unable to replicate the joy we've experienced from our family and hope some of these ideas help you experience this same joy through your partner and family relationships.