Being a new dad can be stressful and confusing. No matter how many books you say you read or how many times to heard your wife tell you something, it does not become real until you see that little gooey head pop out.
Then, you wish you had prepared more, like making sure the DVR was properly tricked out with your show schedule.
I have been a new dad twice and yes the second time, is much easier but you still have a few things you need to remember from the things you needed to know the first time around.
I want to share some of those with all the guys out there who are about to become a new dad. Don’t roll you eyes or say to yourself, not in my house, because it is intel like this that will help you survive the many battles ahead.
This list only deals with the first month or so. I can’t even pretend to comment on what happens after the age of three.
Want to learn about that? There’s a dad for that.
So back to the list.
Top 5 Things Every New Dad Has To Know
Here are 5 things every new dad has to know, to not only be a good dad, but to not end up being road kill on the parenting superhighway.
1. Your Wife Will Change
Accept that your wife, partner, or whoever else you had the kid with, is not going to be the same person for at least a month. You will not stand a chance if you think you can shed new light on something, win an argument or even have an opinion that truly matters in the moment. I don’t want you to think I am being highly negative here or want to say bad things about my wife, but with the amount of pain and lack of sleep that she had, it was like one of the Walking Dead biters got her. She was in there somewhere, but not my real wife. In the beginning it is all about mom and baby. That’s it. The dad just has to be there and try not to get in the way. This includes eating and sleeping. Especially sleeping. At this point in the game, a woman values sleep more than Mr. Burns values money. So just go with the flow and let things return to a state of normal. At least a new normal that as a family, you will figure out.
My advice: Put your head down and just help out where you can. Take the punches knowing it will all get better. Oh and never, ever, ever even try to relate to how your wife is feeling. There are no brownie points waiting for that.
2. Where The Closest 24-hour Drug Store is
No matter how much stuff you have already or how much stuff you got at the many baby showers you were asked not to attend, there is still more stuff to get. And at all hours of the day or night. So, research where that 24-hour drug store is. If you don’t have one, make sure your local gas station has diapers. You will need them. It is impossible to prepare for everything your child will need and what your wife will want. The 24-hour drug store serves multiple purposes in your life. It is a safe haven first and foremost. When it is 4 am, you can make eye contact with the other tired dads who are out to get diaper cream. Don’t chat though, there is a wife and upset baby waiting. The drug store is also where you can catch up on news since you no longer watch TV. Scan the wracks as you are checking out. It is truly amazing how important Kim Kardashian is. For me, there is a giant 24-hour Shoppers just up the road. Luckily I was never there late at night but I can only imagine the zombies you see there.
My advice: Do your best to stock up on things you would need to survive a baby nuclear attack. Diapers, wipes, cream and formula. The rest will be at your local drugstore. Know the hours and even when the cute check out girl is watching. Hey, it is just looking. I would say draw a map to the store and keep it in the car but with Google Maps and GPS, that seems silly.
3. Know How to Properly Do Laundry
If you have never done laundry because your Mom, girlfriend or wife has always done it, learn before that kid comes. Laundry is now a life survival skill that you must have on your parent resume. Your wife won’t appreciate doing it all because there is no so much, it would be a never ending battle. Our washer and dryer are always going and we just have two kids. For friends who have four or five kids, I can’t even imagine the amount of dirty underwear that needs to get clean. This is only magnified if you are doing cloth diapers and don’t have one of those fancy services to do the poop washing for you. So take a class, watch a YouTube video or just ask your wife to give you a training course on it. If you are a modern man who knows what fabric softener is, well good on you my friend.
My advice: Offer to do laundry at least once a week. You may get shot down, but just asking will go far. Also this includes folding it and putting it away. Don’t get lazy.
4. The In-Laws will be coming A Lot
Are you a fan of your in-laws? Because if you are not, a baby is certainly not the way to keep them away. Now for me, I enjoy when my wife’s parents visit. They always bring a lot of fun and energy to the mix and the boys love it when they come. Well our 6-month old has never had the chance to say it, but we are going to just assume. Being a Grandparent is a big deal to those who are lucky enough to reach that mark in life. So you have to let them enjoy it. That means risking getting told how they would do certain things and if they live close, there will be many more pop-ins just because. If you are on the ball, you will use all of these visits for your own benefit. I mean it is free babysitting so you and the wife can hit up the local Keg or see a movie. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, you don’t go to movies anymore. I would go when you have the chance. You have to remember to see the parental visit through your kids. We all get rubbed the wrong way a little by our Moms and Dads. It is just human nature. But don’t let that spoil the visit for your kids. Kids adore their Grandparents, so you don’t want to dirty their minds with whatever beef you may have with your own parents.
My advice: Let it be known that parents can visit as much as they want, but a head’s up or planning in advance is appreciated. And like I said, they want to see the kids probably more than you, so take advantage with some nights out without the kids.
5. Life Will Not Be How It Was
Remember when you used to eat dinner in front of the TV. When you would sleep until noon after a night out with the guys? Or even eating chips for lunch? Well those days are pretty much over once you have a child. Those days probably should of been over when you entered a serious enough relationship to have a child, but who am I to judge. All I want to get across is that life you had before you rushed off to the hospital on delivery day is gone. There will be parts that make the trip, but overall, it is history. You are now responsible for another human. A human who can’t really do anything for themselves for many years. Oh but here is the kicker. They can see you and will pick up bad habits if you show it to them. No more sleeping in. No more late night drinking. Okay, this one is not true, but that first hangover you have with a baby, you will not stay out late again. Of course the flip side to all this is that you life is much, much better now. You are a Dad. Being a Dad is the best thing you can be. There are 1,4567 blogs out there telling you this. Being a Dad rules. So much so that you should not even miss your old life. Sure you have moments of remembering how you used to be able to watch show marathons or how you could spend more time with friends, but after a while those become the little treats you enjoy now and then.
My advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you are having a hard time fitting in all the things you used to do, you are just going to stress yourself out. Focus on your kids and home life first. Then as the weeks pass, more and more free time does open. Small children need naps and if you are lucky like us, this continues well into the third year. Just plan what you want to do when free time does pop up and you will be golden, unless you fall asleep on the couch.
6. Know how to install a car seat in different weather, situations and cars. The car seat is one of the most frustrating part of parenting, so the better you get at it, the better your life will be. I have it down to a science where in under a minute, I can be in and out without even swearing once. It is kind of like a Pit Crew during a NASCAR race. If you take nothing away from this post but one thing, let that one thing be the importance of good car seat installation. Your wife won’t want to do it, so who else is there?
Let’s Hear From Other Dads
What would you like to share with soon-to-be Dads on what to expect or get ready for? Let’s start a conversation in the comments and go from there. Who knows, it could spawn a whole new blog post.
Thanks so much for taking the time to listen to my inner thoughts. All Dads need to stick together and the more we share with each other, the better.