A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called “How Text Messages Change From Dating to Marriage”, where I compared my text messages with my husband before and after we got married. Several people suggested that I write a follow up post after we had kids. Well, we had our first baby.
We can’t believe it, but Henry turns one this weekend. This past year has been an eventful one, filled with many ups and downs, moments of overwhelming joy and sleepless nights that never end. But two things are certain: (1) our lives have been forever changed and (2) we’ve generated a ton of data to analyze, including our text messages. Here’s how our texts have changed from dating to marriage to parenthood.
My husband won the award for consistency, with his messages evolving from “home soon” to “home now” to “coming home”. For me though, my most frequent word became “just”. At first, I was surprised to see this, but then it all made sense when I looked at a few of my text messages.
Many people predicted that I would see words like “poop” or “milk” pop into my vocabulary, but those actually only appeared in about a dozen text messages. I realized that the biggest change for me and my husband after we became parents was that we started communicating more.
While I was on maternity leave and my husband had returned to work, the thing that we missed most was spending time together as a family. We used text messages to keep everyone connected and on the same page. I constantly gave my husband updates during the day about cute things that our son was doing for the first time. My husband would text me to let me know that he was leaving the office and excited to be coming home. Both of us now text each other 4 times as much as we did when we first started dating.
Not only are we communicating more over text, we’ve also been collecting and sharing a ton of data about the baby. Those of you with kids know that it’s often helpful to note the time of a baby's last feeding / nap / diaper change to get an idea of why they’re uncomfortable and what they need next. We tracked that data for our son’s first six months.
The visualization below shows our son’s feeding times during my last month on maternity leave, when his schedule started getting a bit more consistent. During that time, he was eating 6-9 times per day, totaling 1.5 hours each day. I was never away from him for more than a few hours. On weekends, my husband would take the night shift, and then jump back into the work week on Mondays.
Parenthood is hard work. The hours are grueling, and I’m constantly trying to figure out how to best split my waking hours caring for my family, doing a good job at work, and squeezing in some time for friends, my husband and myself.
Now that I’m a parent, I have an incredible appreciation for all the parents before me. I also have a renewed appreciation for my husband, who's going through the exact same struggles, while being so supportive through it all. So why doesn’t that show in our text messages? Taking a second look, I found that 1 in 12 of our texts is actually an image. Here are some examples:
It turns out a lot of the more interesting exchanges were done through photos, screenshots, bitmojis and gifs. When you're short on time, why not send a thousand words with just a few clicks? After texting "coming home", with one additional picture, you can say that you're excited to do so, and let's also have a dance party after having breakfast for dinner.
While my husband and I were dating, we used text messages to flirt. Once we got married, we spent a lot of time together and text messages were mainly used to coordinate logistics. As parents, we now use text messages to keep each other up to date, but also to brighten each others’ days and support each other in this phase of life where we’re limited on time, but have more love than ever before.
To my husband: Happy nine years since our first text message. Hope you enjoyed your second installment of #thegiftofdata.
To my little one: Happy first birthday. Your dad and I can’t wait to continue celebrating all of your firsts and showering you with love.