After a long day at work, I got home, went into the bedroom and there it was. Tiny baby clothing nicely arranged on the bed. I knew what this meant; I was going to be a dad for the first time.
Had great emotions of joy and that was quickly replaced with fear and doubt. Who am I to be responsible for another human being when I am still trying to figure out my own life.
That was 7 years ago and today have three amazing kids and doing my best daily to be a good dad and role model for them.
No matter how you find out you are going to be a dad, you will never be prepared for the new responsibilities that await you. You will have many questions and fears. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. Almost all dads go through this and the process of changing your mindset of being a “boy” into a “man” start here.
There is a reason why it takes 9 months for a baby to born. It allows you to get used to the idea daily and prepares you before they arrive
Was talking with my brother about not feeling I am ready to be a dad and he said something quite thoughtful which help calm me down. “There is a reason why it takes 9 months for a baby to born. It allows you to get used to the idea daily and prepares you before they arrive”. In the same way, it takes time for the baby to start crawling, walking, talking etc, all giving you enough time to know them and teach them as a dad.
My brother-in-law recently had a baby. I know how he is feeling and wanted to share some tips on what to expect as a new dad and to get him as prepared as possible.
10 Things You Need to Know as a Dad
1. Learn to change diapers before the day
There is a high probability you will be changing the baby’s diapers in the first few hours in the hospital so try and get some practice beforehand. There are videos and tutorials online that can help. You can practice on a doll just to give you the confidence needed if you have to do it yourself.
I had to wing it my first time as my wife was sleeping and the nurse doing the regular checks just said: “the baby has done a poo, do you mind changing him?”. I did OK but could feel the eyes of the nurse staring at me and saying how cute; daddy changing diapers for the first time.
2. The first few days will be relentless but enjoy it
You will ask yourself many times what you did with all your free time for all those years before the baby arrived. Take it one moment at a time and one diaper change at a time.
3. It’s tough but worth it
You are now a dad and there is no going back. Amongst the crying, feeding and diaper changes; manage a smile even though sleep has abandoned you and tiredness is your new best friend.
4. Soothing a crying baby
Doesn’t matter who you are, there will be many moments when nothing will work when trying to calm a crying baby. Just make sure they are fed, they haven’t soiled themselves and they are not too hot or cold.
It could just be that they are tired and want to sleep or they have gas; crying is right now their only way of communication so hang in there. You might discover something random that might soothe them and now you are a champion dad. Throw your hands in the air and celebrate with no one looking.
5. You are a man now, put family first
Friends asking you to go out and chill will need to take a backseat. Don’t worry, you are not missing out on anything. You are now responsible for another human being. They look up to you and you have to be there for them.
Your “boy” self has to die to give birth to the “man” within. The feeling of missing out can be great but know that you are doing something even greater, raising the next generation.
6. Learn First Aid for a choking baby (Heimlich Maneuver)
This is a must and can be a lifesaver so learn the technique beforehand. My son had a choking incident in a restaurant and my instincts just kicked in. Bent him over and tapped his back with some force to un-choked him. Every year you hear the sad news that a child lost their life because they were chocking at home or in a restaurant. Teach yourself and pass that knowledge to anyone who will be around the child. The NHS has some great information on this
7. Exercise great patience
Babies are babies and don’t play by the rules of adults so be ready for that. They will not sit still to be fed, they will not sleep when you want to sleep and they want milk at 3 am. Take it one moment at a time, it’s all part of being a dad. You will be rewarded the first time you hear them say “daddy”. It’s their way of saying Thank You.
8. Wake up before the noise starts
If you are waking up at the same time as the baby, your day is gone. Having three kids has taught me this lesson. I’ve tried putting kids to bed early so that I can relax a bit before going to bed myself. In many cases, I’m too tired at the end of the day to have a “me” time. Waking up an hour earlier than everyone is so golden. I can make a cup of coffee, put my feet up and enjoy the peace and quiet. You will thank me later for this.
9. No more sex
Sex is off the plate for the first few weeks. Your partner needs to recover from the labour of childbirth. If you were there in the room when the child was born you will appreciate the miracle of birth and tell little Johnny to take a break.
10. Life Insurance
Now that the baby is here, a lot of the decisions you make need to include them. This is a great time to ensure you set up a saving account for them and most importantly make sure you have life insurance for yourself if the unforeseen does happen.
You want your child to be taken good care of when you are no longer here or able to do so. There are a lot of financial options available out there so take your time and explore what options work for you and your family.
When is all said and done, taking care of a young one is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you can do in life. There will be highs and lows, but that child is looking up to you. Whether you’ve had a bad day at work, tired having slept only two hours or questioning your parenting skills, know that a young person is looking up to you and you can’t let them down.
Time flies so make the most of every moment. A time will come when you will look back, laugh about the good old diaper days. Be the best dad you can be!