February 29, 2016
The thought of being a new dad is freaking scary. There's no analogy or metaphor to truly describe the feeling of being weeks away from being fully responsible for a human life. But hopefully, if you're like me, you're also super excited. I'm expecting my first child (a boy) any day now and I'm already plotting how he'll grow up to be some combination of his parents, Barack Obama and Superman.
Given such a tall order, I decided to get some advice from my son's village, specifically from other dads. Although I'm confident in my own superhuman abilities to impart good values and wisdom, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get advice on stuff like diaper bag packing. After hours of hilarious, nerve-wracking conversations, I was able to summarize the major keys to being a new dad.
Apparently, changing a diaper is seriously messy business. Since I haven't had the opportunity to change one yet, I was advised to bring an extra shirt for myself, preferably one that I don't care about. "Why do I need an extra shirt? Can't I just roll up my sleeves?" Well, according to my friends, babies aren't always finished doing their business when you go to change them. And boys especially have projectile tendencies.
This piece of advice is based on the same premise as no. 1: Babies are just messy in all aspects of life. So if you want to steer clear of mashed sweet potatoes and creamed green beans, make sure you feed the little angel with a LONG spoon.
Children require a lot of attention, but there's no reason why it all has to come from you and mom. Every time you hear someone presumptively blurt out, "Oh, I'd love to babysit!" write down their name, schedule and preferred method of communication. And make sure you save the Excel sheet to Evernote for when you need to round up the troops on the go.
Apparently babies don't sleep. They take naps. In the very early stages (before you're ready to use your babysitter Excel sheet), you won't sleep either until it’s nap time. Kiss those beautiful 7-8 hours goodbye.
For the first couple of months, mom and baby will be inseparable because babies need to feed every 2-4 hours. Stop and think about that for a minute: Mom will be up every 2-4 hours for two months. And, of course, she won't just be feeding the baby. Ask a brand new mom how her day went and she'll tell you all about it. So needless to say, mom is going to need some relief and extra appreciation. Flowers, chocolate, massages, manicures, pedicures, etc., are all necessary to keep a sane household. Get your money saved up now fellas.
Do NOT pack your diaper bag like you're preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Here's the script: 2 changes of clothes, 4 diapers, 2 packs of wipes, 1-2 servings of food/milk, 2 small toys, 1 compilation book (Disney has several), and, of course, your own changing shirt (see tip no. 1).
Again ... babies are messy. They throw things. They “misplace” food everywhere. Your cleaning tools need to have as many features as the latest iPhone.
If you want any alone time with mommy during the first six months, make this a priority and pull out the Excel sheet.
Once a child gets into a routine, there will be hell to pay if/when that routine is changed. For example, a friend of mine told me that babies tend to want to sleep with their parents because of their need to feel secure. His advice to me was that when it's time to give the little bed squatter his eviction notice, don't give a first and second warning. Rip the Band-Aid off. This way he'll learn early that change is inevitable and that he'll have to learn how to cope.
It took the two of you to create this bundle of joy, so it'll take the two of you to create a balanced household.
Being a new parent is going to be tough, but you have to make time for your friends. One thing I know from being on the other side is that #TeamNoKids has a blacklist. If you miss too many outings, you'll be on it. And you won't hear from your friends again until they have kids. So, don't take your friends for granted. You'll need them to help you maintain your sanity while raising a living, breathing poop machine. Pull out your trusty Excel sheet.
It took the two of you to create this bundle of joy, so it'll take the two of you to create a balanced household. I'm sure every single parent can attest to how hard it is to raise children without in-home help. Don't let your significant other feel like she's single when she isn't. Be the lead superhero right along with her.
Babies like noses. And apparently they have an underrated Kung-Fu grip. I guess Wu-Tang really is for the children.
Your little prince or princess won't be little for long. As much as they'll drive you crazy at the onset, they'll also fill your heart with joy. Take the time and appreciate these early moments. It's all downhill from the moment they start asking for driving lessons. (My friend's words, not mine.)
Sounds cliché, I know. But I was told that if you love on them early and often while showing them what love looks like, from relationships to your favorite past-time, your kid will turn out just fine. Love is the foundation for everything we find important, so make sure your child knows a healthy and productive way to express the sentiment. Yes fellas, I said the “L” word.
No parent is perfect and no parenting style is perfect. My hope for myself and all new dads out there is that we do well enough to raise an outstanding generation while loving the process. Again, it's a tall order, but that's why our capes flap in the breeze. Go, dad, go.