New dad Tim shares his top tips on how to survive as a new dad with humour and #realtalk…
I never thought fatherhood would have as much meaning as it does to me today. I have three nieces, a nephew, and a godson to “practice” my skill set as a father. I’m dang good at making kids laugh, acting like an idiot with no shame (most often in public), and generally just being known as the “silly uncle” who does crazy things. In my disillusioned state of reality, I definitely thought that I had this fatherhood thing in the bag.
I would soon find out how wrong I was… Despite the numerous discussions my wife and I had leading up to the brand new addition of our little girl to the family, nothing could really prepare me for the real deal. The reality and new normal we were about to discover eventually hit me like a brick wall pretty much the first night my little girl Taylor came home. Sure, we felt prepared in having discussed how we’d both pitch in, having had a picture of “how things were going to work” when Taylor came home… Let me just say, the preparation, albeit well intentioned, is all but a starting point.
Reality is, no number of classes, workshops, or practice in fort creation with my nieces and nephew, could have prepared me for this world I was about to embark upon.
Now having done this husband and father role for about six months, I wanted to reflect a bit about what would help the rest of the guys out there who are about to enter this role on how to manage, support, survive and enjoy this process that is inevitable.
Here are a few things to think about that you may find helpful…
1. Babies are inconsiderate
No matter how many times you may hear about projectile vomit and poop stories, there’s nothing like that first warm splash of regurgitated milk on the corner of your mouth to wake you up to your new reality. The first time your child doesn’t tell you that they’re in mid-poop when you are changing them and they decide to sneeze is something you’re going to experience at some point. I’ve learned that babies are very inconsiderate. But cute at the same time, which is aggravating.
2. Become a mindreader
Well, at least try to. Mums just seem to have this innate sense of what needs to be done, but to expect them to do it on their own, is unreasonable and a lot of work. To expect them to tell you what it is that they need also may not happen. So be a mind reader. Or repeatedly remind them of your ineptness to be able to be clairvoyant, and ask them to remind you how you can be of help in this overwhelming task of keeping a human alive.
3. Enjoy exhaustion
Sorry to say this, but this state of tiredness does not pass. Learn to enjoy it and as another dad once wisely said to me, you just get used to it. So, learn to enjoy being tired. How? Just keep living your life, enjoying the moments that you have with this new addition. Go to the gym, go play dodgeball, go out with your friends (all with reason). But, just do it while you’re tired.
4. Do everything you can
Change the poopie diapers. Wash the bottles. Massage your baby. Massage your partner. Wash the clothes. Make lunch. Make dinner. Pay the bills. Sure, you may have just discussed division of responsibilities with your partner, but after you witness the miracle of birth, you quickly learn the agony in which a woman goes through, and realise, thank GOD I didn’t have to go through that. So… do everything else, which comparatively, is a walk in the park.
5. Don’t be a critic
Choose your words wisely my friends. Constructive criticism, even well intentioned can seem like an attack at your partner’s abilities. The lack of control that we have as parents is a real thing. It’s everyones first time parenting that child, every day. Instead of telling your partner what you think they’re doing wrong, maybe create a suggestion of trying something new together. That makes you seem resourceful and romantic. Win, win.
6. Become the new James Bond
Be brave and do the scary tasks (like cutting nails… If you haven’t done this, you haven’t lived). Be resourceful and problem solve (Baby’s constipated? Try bicycle kicks and put them in a squat position). Google stuff. Make suggestions. Don’t just say “I don’t know”. The most unhelpful phrase you could say. Be social with your wife. Wine and dine her. Talk with her, have adult conversations, after all, she’s been cooing and speaking baby talk all day.
7. It is your responsibility to instil sanity in the household
Mental health is a real thing. Listen to your wife, don’t give advice. Acknowledge, validate, and love on her by letting her know you care. Problem solve together. Have discussions. She probably knows better. But discuss anyway. Give input. Admit when you’re wrong, and give grace when you’re right. It’s okay to not have the answers, but be a part of the discussion. After all, it’s everybody’s first time with this child.
Dads, this list is definitely incomplete, but that’s because I know that there is still so much to learn through this process. If there’s anything I hope that you take away from this, is that humility should be at the top of your priorities. Have fun on your adventures of thrill seeking (aka. being a dad to your child)!