A few nights ago Cindy and I hosted a BBQ at the house with some family and friends to celebrate our youngest son, Dylan’s 3rd birthday.
Under the quiet of the back porch, my friend Kara and I exchanged parental war stories highlighting the calamities of raising young children as we watched our respective children screech and scurry across the yard like crackhead squirrels.
We discussed that how right now, with all our children under 10 years old, we experience little down time.
How someone always needs you. How pooping is no longer a private event. How some nights you’re too tired to shovel food into your own face. And how vacations are no longer relaxing, soul-rejuvenating revivals yet they’re more like soul-sucking vacuums that leave you more exhausted and frazzled then before you even made the hotel reservations, packed up your toiletries and delayed the mail.
It was a nice adult conversation but without warning (and yet right on cue!) our nice adult conversation was halted by the sharp cries of our needy squirrels.
“I’m thirsty!” “I’m hungry!” “I have to go potty!” “He called me smelly pants!”
Before Kara was dragged away by one of her squirrels, and as I attend to one of mine, she drew deep breath and offered me this reassurance, ” It will get better when we’re 40.”
When I’m 40 Dylan will be 7. I can only hope he will be wiping his own butt and sleeping throughout the night by then. I’m hoping the neediness will lessen however, when I’m 40 my daughter Haley will be on the fickle doorstep of her teen years and I’ll be faced with a whole new bushel of prickly problems.
But today I’m 36. And in the first 6 years of my thirties I learned some things. Seven things that I’d like to share and that people of all generations can appreciate.
At 30 there is a mounting pressure to be more adult-like, more mature. However thirtysomethings still need to imagine, play, laugh and unleash their inner child every so often.
2. Don’t take your children for granted
This is a big one for me. Its easy to get annoyed with your children when they’re in these early, dependent years. But they’re only young once and I know there will be a day in the future I will long for the needy crackhead squirrel stage again.
3. Meet new people
It’s easy when your 30s to just stick to your old circle of friends. But by meeting new people you learn new things about yourself as well as expanding your network. New friends may help you land a new job or open a new financial venture or hell, maybe they know a squirrel whisperer to tame those kids of yours.
4. Fill your life with content
It’s important now to start expanding your mind. Read books, travel, go to concerts, learn and experience new things. 30 is a time where we should begin to build on our intellectual foundation so when we do hit 40 we finally sound smart.
5. Pursue passions
Join an auto club, an archery club, a beer club. Do a Tough Mudder. Take guitar lessons. Roller skate in the park. Become a karaoke bar superstar. Find what you love, something that lightens your soul and eases the burden of living and do it. And forget about money and fame– just do it for you.
6. Learn from your mistakes
If you’re like me, our 20’s were marked with questionable decisions and questionable clothing. 30 is the time to reflect on those mistakes, to learn and grow from them.
7. Make peace with the past
Let things go. Shouldering the past brings unnecessary weighted tension to the present. You should aspire to live lighter in your 30s then you did in your 20s ( and you need to… that aging metabolism is a bitch!).
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Last week’s post: 5 Fantastic Ways To Be More Productive