Having had two children who are now 8 and 11, I thought it was time to compile a list of things no one tells you when you become a Dad. There are a lot of things you learn when you become a father, some of which other dad’s seem to keep to themselves. Hopefully some of these will help you.
You’re Going to feel a bit Useless at times
One of the things no one tells you when you become a Dad is how useless you might feel at first. Most new dad’s go through this and it’s totally natural. The thing to understand is that it’s not personal.
Before you’re baby was born it was probably just you and your wife. You spend most of your free time together, you spent lots of time planning for the new baby and you made lots of plans.
Suddenly, baby arrives and now you find yourself feeling a little left out. Mum is now devoting 100% of her time to your child; feeding, washing, cuddling and just generally not wanting to let go. And that’s a hard thing for a man to take.
You’re no longer centre of attention. You’re no longer Number One in your wife’s life. Well it’s time to suck it up because that’s how it’s going to be from now on. There really is no bond like a mother and a child; and it’s totally different than anything your wife has ever experienced before.
Find things to do to help. Wash some clothes, prepare a dinner. Make yourself useful – you’ll feel better for it and your wife will appreciate that.
You’re going to become an expert at packing the car
No matter how many books you’ve read and no matter how many people you talk to, nothing will prepare you for the mass of utter crap that having a baby requires you to carry in the car when you go to visiting. Bottle warmers, bottle sterilisers, cribs, formula, bedsheets, clothing, food; the list is endless.
Sadly, almost all of the items you’ll need to carry are bulky and irregular shapes, and they’re definitely not designed to slot neatly into the trunk of a car. Don’t fear – you’re not the first man to have experienced this problem and hopefully you’ll be able to rely on the advice of an uncle, dad or friend to give you discreet advice.
A 250g of tissues would weigh the equivalent of a house brick in a 30 mph crash as it flies through the air.
I’m not trying to scare you here, but just remember not to pack any items which might move around if you have to brake sharply or if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a shunt. I bought a dog-guard for my Volvo V70 which meant that any luggage in the trunk would stay there if the vehicle was hit meaning the passengers were safe from flying objects.
If your car has an internal luggage barrier or guard, use it.
You’re going to forget what a it’s like to have a lie in
Ahhh, the lie in. Getting up when you want and spending the day doing what you want. It may sound obvious, but this is one of the things no one tells you when you become a Dad that often gets forgotten.
Forget it. It’s now a thing of the past. You may be occasionally granted a day off, or perhaps you may take it in turns with your wife to have a lie in on weekends, but as such an impromptu lie-in is something you probably won’t experience for the next few years.
You’re going to spend the next 5 years sleeping with one eye open
When you first bring your little one home you spend the first few nights checking they’re breathing every half an hour. The slightest rustle from their bed sheets wakes you up to check that they are OK. It’s a totally natural feeling for any new parent.
What no one told you was that for the next 5 years or so you’re going to sleep in a semi-sleep. That a sleep where although your eyes are closed and you think you’re sleeping, you are in fact partly awake and alert waiting for the next cry which will wake you up in the middle of the night.
And forget about going back to sleep once you’ve been woken up – expect to lay in your bed for the next 3 hours – struggling to relax and sleep – waiting for the next edition of demands to commence. This will continue for 5 years, but gradually improves. Eventually you’ll wake up and realise that finally, you actually managed to get 8 hours of solid and undisturbed sleep!
You’re going to start to hate your friends who tell you they’re tired but don’t have kids
I have a couple of friends without kids. They go to bed at 11pm on a Friday night and they sleep in until 10 or maybe 11 the next morning…yet they’re always ‘tired’. One friend regularly tells me how ‘tired’ he is. Sometimes I really want to punch him in the face…definitely one of the more annoying things no one tells you when you become a Dad!
Being a dad is going to be the best thing you’ll ever do
Last, but most importantly, is this: Being a dad is going to be the best thing you’ll ever do. Just stop reading parenting books; they’re not going to help you much.
It’s going to be tough at times. There’s going to be lots of highs and some lows. You’re going to have to figure out lots of things as you go along.
There’s no rule book. People will give you advice – take it all with a pinch of salt and make up your own mind.
But most of all enjoy every moment; children really do grow up faster than you can imagine.