Those that have read my earlier posts will realise that I began my career as Dad being a clueless intern. I’m now a little better and though I am not expecting any Father of the year awards quite yet, I’m certainly not the worst.
There are many things that I feel I should have been given more training on before Robbie arrived. Looking back I would happily swap my three years studying philosophy for a thorough course on bringing up a child, it would be far more practical. So anyway, heres’s my top 15 list of things I wish that I was ready for when becoming a Dad.
- Don’t panic before it even starts
Finding out your wife is pregnant is a shock regardless of how prepared you feel. I spent a huge part of the pregnancy trying to figure out plans of how to make our lives better suited to being parents. From wanting a new job and looking at moving house through to small household changes, my mind covered everything. In reality though, I changed very little and it was the right decision as things change so quickly with a child that you can never really be fully prepared.
2. Learn the fatherhood essentials
Being a clueless Dad is not fun. I had read numerous articles regarding emotional bonds with your child and how to control emotions and behaviour but what I should have learnt is how to change a nappy and work a milk prep machine. I was caught out at the hospital as my wife was ill after childbirth and having a doctor watch you fail miserably to change a nappy is not an early experience you want as a new Dad.
3. The TV is no longer yours
Just face facts, it’s gone. You will soon realise that the only options are to have it turned off or to watch toddler tv programmes all day long. When your child sleeps you will have the volume so low that you can’t hear it anyway and you will never be able to concentrate on a show you love why they are awake, so just admit it is gone for a few years. Sorry.
4. Mum is now always right
It’s just not worth arguing. Of course it is a terrible impression to give your kids anyway but when Mum shouts ‘Ok, the kid is your problem for the day,’ you soon notice how much better her idea was.
5. Drinking is no longer that fun
Now don’t get me wrong, I still drink and will never give it up. The difference now is that it will very rarely be in the pub with friends but more likely sitting on my own in a dark room. Even then, too much hurts. Being Dad with a hangover is far more painful than an extra beer or two is worth.
6. Your social circle will change
This is not a bad thing but that guy you only really see in the pub will probably not be coming round to spend time with you at home too often. You will find new friendship groups, mostly with other children in playhouses and classes.
7. Kids don’t sleep
Of course everyone knows that newborn babies don’t have much of a sleep pattern. What many don’t realise is that my boy is now 20 months old and has still never slept through the night. Every child is different but don’t go in thinking it will only be a few weeks and they will settle, they really might not. Ever.
8. They grow up way too fast
Yeah that old clichè. This is not just an emotional feeling but also a harsh reality. Those hundred sets of new born clothes you received but still bought a few more yourself are all getting thrown away without a wear. Toys, nappies and everything else soon change too so never get ahead of yourself too far.
9. There is no pain like your child being sick
You can not really put into words the feeling of your baby being ill. You have no real idea whether it is really serious or nothing to worry about and trying to find out on the internet will lead you to the worst case scenario every time. Whatever happens, seeing pain on your child’s face and being unable to do anything to help is heart wrenching.
10. Your finances will change
The general assumption is that having a child basically bankrupts you but this is not entirely true. Yes they cost a huge amount of money with general maintenance but you soon find that actually just their existence makes your own life a little cheaper. Pubs, restaurants, holidays and any other form of leisure become far too much of a hassle and this covers the extra cost of the nappies. It may not sound like much fun, but just don’t get yourself too stressed about money.
11. Returning to work is awful
Whether you love your job or you hate it, going back after paternity is tough. Your sleep pattern will have changed, along with all of your priorities in life. Your partner will have all sorts of worries about looking after the baby alone and most of all, you just will not want to be away from them. Normality does return soon enough.
12. You will miss things
However much of a hands on Dad you plan to be, it is inevitable that you will miss some of your child’s milestones and hate yourself for it. The first time they turn, crawl, speak, smile only happen once and it is just not possible to witness them all. You may not see the first time, but you will see it thousands more times so no need to beat yourself up.
13. You will become a child yourself
No, not literally. A common feeling around becoming a Father is that it is time to grow up. In some ways this very is true but in others it could not be further from the reality. You will spend far more time singing, dancing, running and playing games than ever before and even if you don’t admit it… You’ll love it!
14. Routines will not go as planned
You will often hear that the key to bringing up your child is to have good routines set. This advice should not be ignored but it is important to know that you will at times find yourself watching repeats of the Teletubbies at 3AM whilst wondering how this ever happened to you.
15. Life is better as a new Dad!
It may seem tough to picture it but despite all of the changes above you will be a far happier man. Sleep deprivation, starvation and a lack of human friends are not really an issue when you see your child smile and laugh every day. Good luck and remember to enjoy every moment!
This is just the beginning. I wish that I could say that there were only these few things I wish I knew before becoming a Dad but the truth is there are thousands. Being a Father is the biggest challenge I have ever faced but choosing to embrace it and be the best Dad I can is my only option.
Every day throws up new challenges. My Son is now almost four years old and every time I feel I have mastered one stage of Fatherhood we shoot onto the next and I am back to being that clueless new Dad again.
I have made it through my Son being a baby, coped with the sleep problems and potty training and even those lovely tantrums that toddlers are so famous for! The next step will be waving goodbye as he leaves for school and learning all the joys of being a school Dad! I can’t wait to get stuck into his primary school homework and secretly have to Google the answers whilst he is not looking!
Being a great Father is a challenge of a lifetime and my only wish is that I can be the best Dad for my Son. I’m looking forward to the next stage of Fatherhood and the next after that, and after that, and after that. I will spend my life by my Son’s side, constantly ready for any challenge he throws my way and looking forward to each one.
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