To the virgins, to make much of time

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry:
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.

My friend Ramit asked me to write up a short list of things that you should do in your 20s, before you get married and have kids. I guess that since I’ve done both, I qualify, at the age of 31, as an old man.

Even if you’re no longer a virgin (or even a “technical virgin“), the sentiments of Herrick’s poem still applies–there are things that are much easier to do when you’re young, and I hope that this post helps convince you to stop putting them off.


7. Travel
Been putting off your travel plans? Don’t! Traveling can be tough enough when you’re on your own. Now imagine that you have several kids that have bladders the size of peas, who refuse to eat any food that isn’t purple, and who require more supplies than the U.S 3rd Army.

Travel now, or regret it later.

6. Partying
Enjoy eating out? Clubbing? Staying out late? Better live it up now. Unless you go the nanny or boarding school route, your days are numbered. Heading off to Vegas for the weekend is good fun when you’re single, but grounds for arrest when you have kids (and don’t take them with you).

5. Cleanliness
Kids possess the destructive force of a natural disaster. If you think of each one as a Class 5 hurricane, you wouldn’t be far off. After the first 100 times you clean the house, only to see it resemble a crazy cat lady’s lair after just a single day of normal play, you’ll give up too.

4. Money
Between day care, the rent for a bigger house, clothes, food, toys, and the cost of getting a minivan (seemingly inevitable once you have two kids), my tots run me about $70K a year–post-tax. In other words, I keep about as much money as a single guy making $100K per year less. And you wonder why my friends have houses, and I still rent–it’s because I was the first among my peers to have kids, by a wide margin.

When I was still in college, my roommate told me about encountering some middle-aged guys on the golf course. They told him, “Do you like golf? Nice cars? Guitars? The good life? Then never have kids! I could have bought a handful of Ferraris with the money I’ve sunk into my kids.”

3. Sleep
Imagine not getting a full night’s sleep for 4-5 years. Yeah, welcome to my world. You’d be surprised how much you’ll crave sleep once you have kids. I wouldn’t kill a family member or friend to get more sleep, but I’d consider offing a stranger or a member of Congress. (Who am I kidding–I’d do the Congressperson for free!)

2. Sex
If, by some wild coincidence, you actually are a virgin, let me tell you that sex rocks. It really is as good as people make it seem on TV. The problem is, it’s hard to find time for sex when you’re chronically sleep deprived and have several light sleepers who could burst into your room at any time, and I mean AT ANY TIME. Gives new meaning on the term, “pressure to perform,” when you know your kids might wake up if the dog barks.

When you’re young, having sex three times in a night might seem routine. When you have kids, having sex three days in a row is a major accomplishment.

1. Free Time
You may not know this, but you have ridiculous amounts of free time right now. You just waste it. Once you have two or more kids, you’ll be lucky to have an hour a day to yourself outside of work. Rather than going to Sheryl Crow concerts, you’ll find yourself hoping that she makes a guest appearance on Sesame Street, just to hear something off her new album (even if the lyrics have been changed from to feature “The Letter I” and “The Number 7.”

Now life as an old man can still be pretty darn good, despite all these drawbacks. It’s not that life as a 20something is better, it’s just different. Enjoy the life you have while you have it, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

4 thoughts on “To the virgins, to make much of time

  1. That list is just so scary. Sad thing is that is true. No that I know personally but I can see it from close. I work at the moment as fille aupair (babysitter) and even if I live 24/7 with the kids, their parents hardly ever go out for dinner; nor sleep much (my shift starts strangely at 11.30am, but hey, I have no complaints!); nor party at all nor have sex (and if they do they are very silent indeed because my room is literally across theirs). I wonder if in their case is having children or just being bored one of each other…

    …Me? I think I will get one of those world tickets and visit as many countries as two or three zones allows Ian and I. I will also party back home as much as I can, so much that I’ll be so tired of partying that will actually not mind staying in by the time I’ll have kids. I’ll also try to save money now for the future (um, I think I said that one too quickly ). Regarding the lack of sleep, does it not work to take turns?? One week mum gets up in the middle of the night because Johnny Jr. had a nightmare, one week daddy does? The one that has the week off uses earplugs by the way. And free time, well I hope I’ll get some help both from my mum and my mother in law to be.

    Cleanliness is the one that worries me the most, actually…

  2. Rebeca,

    Glad to hear that you are planning ahead.

    The lack of sleep exists even when the kids sleep through the night. The issue is that our kids only sleep about 8 hours per night. This means that we get only those eight hours, minus any time needed to prepare for bed, minus any time we actually want to have with each other.

    Were I independently wealthy, we could compensate by sleeping during the day, but alas, that’s not yet the case.

    Getting help from grandparents is key. Unfortunately for us, neither lives in the area, though my parents helped a lot while the kids were younger. There’s nothing like children to make people realize how grateful they should be to their parents!

    Cleanliness is another issue where money can help–we still do our own cleaning. I keep advising my wife to bring in a cleaning service, but I think our down-to-earth upbringings make her feel uncomfortable with the thought of a cleaning service.

  3. I share your wife’s opinion about hiring a cleaner. As long as she has some sort of free time for herself of course!
    The family I’m staying with have a cleaner who comes twice a week, they also have me 24/7 – being Spanish I can’t help cooking even if they don’t ask me to- and guess what? The kids mum has not work for the last three years! Now, anyone can spend their money as they want but not being exactly rolling in money, well… I just don’t get it.

    Can not one of you have a bit of a lie-in on a Sunday, for instance, while the other looks after the kids?

  4. If one of us can take both kids while the other gets a little extra sleep, we do, but the kids tend to be loud enough such that the extra sleep is limited.

    But it gets easier all the time as the kids get older. Regardless of my warnings, life does go on, you do adjust, and you’ll probably be pretty happy when you have kids. I know I am.

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