A work colleague once told me that “Kids are the orgasm of life, you don’t realise how good they are until you’ve had one”. He was a bit of a weird old perv, but he was right.
I think it is an important role of parents in society to pass on our insights to the next batch of parents- to-be. I have been a Dad for just over 4 years now and whilst I do not claim to know it all, or much, I thought it would be good to collate the main insights I have had to date.
So here are 15 things I think new Fathers should know -
- Kids are like dogs until at least 3 years. They need routine, immunising, social interaction and a simple balanced diet to ensure a glossy coat. Both can also be walked on a leash but should not be kept in hot cars.
- Fathers will always be the entertainers. You are the feature act each night in the daily show of Mum and Bub. When they are both getting sick of each other like housemates on the 40hr Famine, Dad arrives for the nightly Home from Work Variety Show. No need for new material. This crowd appreciates tight sets of old favourites, much like the Comics Lounge. They don’t pay you for your performance but then neither does the Comics Lounge.
- Being a Dad is like guitar, karate and making coffee...no matter how good you are, there is always someone better out there. Be open to learning from them.
- Playing with your kid will distract you from most of the stresses of life, unless you stress stems from coming up with new ways to entertain a crying, bored baby who is no longer responding to games of sit-on-the-bed-whilst-Dad-does-some-stuff.
- If you are going to be a Dad, you are going to need guns. I speak of the colloquial term for upper arm muscles and not weapons, although these may be handy for the teenage years if you have a girl. Holding a baby for long periods of time requires just a little bit more strength than you possesed pre-fatherhood. Hit the gym or punch out some push ups and then invest in some new V-necks to show off for your ripped bod.
- Dad’s need to be OK with sacrifice. They make more of them than a remote East Papuan tribe. Money (new clothes for baby, not you) Sleep (you can’t if it can’t!) Sex (only every second day? C’mon!) Attention (that’s great that you discovered a cure for Cancer from used muesli bar wrappers honey, but our Kid drooled the first letter of his name today!)
- If you happen to have a male child, and it happens to be human, it will be a little bit extra rad for you as a Dad. We can’t help it. We have an in built gender bias that secretly loves to have a mini-me to watch footy with and dress up like the real life Ken doll we were never secure enough to own.
- Don’t worry about the small things, unless the ‘small thing’ is a weird spot that smells funny. Good chance it may be infected and you should get it checked out!
- You learn that sleep is a luxury and similar to roundabouts, it’s a privilege and not a right. Take what you can get when you can. You’ll be amazed where you can fall asleep - standing up, driving, at work, in queues or pruning a hedge. Also it doesn’t have to be your whole body. Legs can be asleep whilst the upper torso functions and vice versa.
- Take good photos as everyone will want to see them and also want copies of them. You’ll take more than a work experience kid at a Victoria Secret’s shoot, but you can always delete them. Avoiding stray boobs in the shots is a great tip for beginners.
- Poo is complex. It used to be gross or funny. Now it can be statistically and medicinally important.
- Get sporked. Eating one handed whilst holding a baby can’t happen without the aid of the much maligned spork. Knowing this is one thing, knowing where to buy an actual spork is another!
- Trust your instincts.You do know what is best for your mini-human. Sure nurses and doctors have the advantage of education, experience and lifetime of medical findings to draw on, but everyone sometimes has a case of the can't-be’s at work. Unfortunately that could be the day you have an appointment with them. That issue with duck-like breathing is a concern, even though Ms Midwife’s only concern seems a hangover from Big Day Out the previous day. Go with your gut, even though it doesn’t have a PHD. Eventually someone will agree with you!
- Get help and ask parents and in-laws for advice. The very fact you have them shows they know how to keep a child alive for a bit. Take food from friends and strangers. The food may not feature in your regular diet or even qualify as cooking on a technical level, but you need to eat.
- Get use to all the mess and not just on the domestic front. Your social, sex, fitness and fashion life will be a shadow of their former selves for at least a few weeks. Be OKwith being a track-suited sedentary, celibate hermit for one to three months and life will be shiny!
My number one piece of advice?
Ignore everything and do what you think is best. After all it is your kid! They don’t have to sleep then, or feed like that. That item of clothing is ridiculous and your kid is cooler than that. Go there! Who cares if you have to take a baby?! Raise the type of person you want to see in the world.
Hopefully they, and society,will thank you for it.