5 THINGS EVERY NEW DAD SHOULD KNOW
1. SEX BC & AD
SEX B.C. (Before Children)
Congratulations! You knocked up your woman and your sex life is now going to change tremendously. It’s not all bad, but you need to learn patience. (My new favorite word and soon to be yours! No sarcasm at all) Even during the pregnancy, she may be uncomfortable and obviously ridiculously moody. Do what she says, be patient, and you may get it on for a few minutes… or you may have to get your clothes back on, in the middle of the night, and drive to the nearest convenience store or fast food restaurant and get your woman some food! (Trust me, don’t be selfish and do as she says; she might just get aroused from that weird combo of food she made you just get)
SEX A.D. (After Dadhood)
Yes, you chose to knock her up and now you destroyed her woman parts. That’s why I like to call it, “After Destroying,” rather than “After Dadhood.” Either way, things will never be the same, thanks to you! BTW, she will bring this up and blame you for the rest of your life. Anyway… the baby has entered the world and you want to have sex, right? Well… be patient and wait til that woman of yours is healed up and given the ok by her lady doctor. This may be like starting all over, and the weeks turn into years. Get ready for it, and know that you may need to be patient with her. Not only that, get ready for restless and sleepless, stressful nights. Did she used to give you the excuse of a headache or stomachache? Now she has a valid excuse of being ridiculously stressed and overtired and her headache is legit this time. Patience is key and don’t expect your old B.C. sex life to come back immediately. On the bright side, I’ve always heard that women hit their sexual peak later in life. So, you got that going for you. (Keep telling yourself that)
2. RELATIONSHIPS WILL CHANGE
THE NEW MOTHER
You need to talk with her and she needs to talk to you. She needs your help and cannot be left on an island with your baby to fend for herself. A lot of changes and a lot of fear will come with this whole new dad thing. It’s coming from her side too with the new mom thing. You need each other more than ever. Both parents are equally important and don’t let anyone make you feel any different about that. Man up and be the dad you know you can be.
Your friends may feel like you left them in the dust. That you don’t care about them or don’t feel like hanging out with them anymore. This could be the furthest from the truth, but you are stuck at your house day in and day out, taking care of this little human who has changed your life completely! Your real friends will understand that you now have to work around a baby’s schedule, rather than your own. Your B.C. days are behind you and you will not have the time like you had before. Hanging out with friends may have to be scheduled in advance. Be honest and let them know things will be different now. Be the dad you need to be.
Family is everything. If you have a great family structure that is willing to help and stand beside you, let them! Parents, Grandparents, and older Siblings tend to “know everything.” Not saying this is a bad thing. Take their advice but also set up ground rules. You need to raise your kids the way you know best. They can offer advice, but if they are overwhelming you, be honest with them. Communication is what keeps healthy relationships going. Don’t let something small irritate you without bringing it up. The last thing you want to do is sever a relationship over something small.
3. YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW WHAT STRESS WAS? GET READY!
NO SHAME IN HELP
Make sure you aren’t turning down help. Time is a luxury you don’t have! If someone is willing to help you out, take the help. Obviously, they need to be someone you trust with your children. Put down your pride and remember there is no shame in asking or taking help from friends and family. If you’re like me, make a list of what the kids need and review it with them a few times before you take off. When you get a moment to get out of the house, you probably won’t stop thinking about them. At least you are getting out for a bit to relax!
SLEEP (OR LACK THEREOF)
I wish I could tell you that you will get plenty of rest. That is far from the truth! When you get the chance to, sleep. As a stay at home dad of twins, I know this first hand. The only time I’ve had a full night’s rest is when grandma came to help watch the babies for the night. This is why I said, there’s no shame in accepting help! Every 2-3 hours my wife and I will tag-team and change/feed the girls. We’ve had to deal with colicky babies. When there’s so much fussiness, there have been nights with a few broken hours of sleep, or even none at all! If you have one baby or babies to take care of, take turns throughout the night, if possible. If the mother is breastfeeding, offer to change or burp the baby for her, or even just keep her company. You can do it, trust me!
You also need to remember that if you are both going to work or if one is staying at home, the luxury of sleep needs to be equally distributed. Taking care of babies at home is just as hard, if not more stressful, than going to work the next day.
One last thing. Promise me that you’ll talk to your other half and let them know you are there for them. If, for some reason, they are stressed beyond control and just need to step outside to take some deep breaths, they need to know it’s totally ok to wake you up, or ask you to take over for a bit. It will happen when you don’t know what to do, you’re overtired, and you can’t even think straight. Oh, and learn from my mistake… when you are overtired, try to watch what you say when your spouse is there to help! It is really easy to be tired and stressed and say things out of frustration. Like I said, tell them you’ll be right back, step outside and take some deep breaths. It will get easier. I keep telling myself that. I’m sure it’s true. (*coughs sarcastically*)
TAKE TIME OFF
This is for both of you. Take as much time off as you possibly can from work. You won’t understand completely until you go through this yourself. You need time to figure this all out and time to figure out what this new life as a parent will look like. You also need time to bond with your new little human. Enjoy it, give yourself time to take it all in, and learn how to deal with the stress of being a new parent.
Simple tasks may seem impossible to get done! This will really depend on how easy your baby is to take care of. I’ve had to learn to be patient and accept the fact that some things will simply not get done. Nothing will go as planned and you need to come to grips with it. This may be your new reality.
Here’s a list of things that I have to struggle with trying to do on the daily.
- I have had times where I really need to go to the bathroom and the kids are fussing, or I am on to the next child to change and feed. Something as simple as going to the bathroom can be a struggle to get done.
- There have been days when I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath. Sometimes I don’t have a chance to even make food or grab something from the pantry. There have also been mornings when I’ve made coffee and went back to my Keurig two hours later to get my cold brew.
- I have to throw the multiple loads of baby sheets, clothes, burp cloths, bibs, and my spit-up covered shirts in the washer. I also have to clean and sanitize bottles and all the pacifiers that somehow manage to make it on the floor more than in my babies’ mouths. You may end up feeling like you are doing nothing but prepping bottles. I don’t know if it’s a twin thing or if it feels the same for a single baby. But still, the task will continue to be demanding.
Realize that there really is not much time for anything. I’ve personally decided that I’m going to be happy with whatever I get done. (Also, I just laugh at everything. It makes me feel better.)
NOTHING GOES AS PLANNED
I’m a schedule kind of guy. I like to make a list and stick to it. A written schedule and a list give me a sense of accomplishment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nothing goes as planned. This is another thing you will need to come to grips with. Make a list and realize it will most likely not be able to get done. Call it as it is- ‘The List That May or May Not Get Done’. ‘The Maybe List’? ‘The List of Things That Will Never Get Done’? Something like that. (Get creative and think of something you can call it when you’re frustrated.)
GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE
Getting out of the house sucks! Especially when you have a kid on oxygen and/or a monitor. Getting babies ready, packing all of their stuff, double checking you have everything, getting yourself ready while trying to take care of your babies, triple checking you have everything you need, and then 3 hours later getting them in the car that is packed with all their crap, and realizing you forgot the stroller. It’s not always as bad as this, but it does suck!
You also have to remember that while you are out, they still need changed and fed. Let me gripe for a second. Dads have the short end of the stick. You know those changing tables that are in the majority of the women’s restrooms? Well they are not found in as many dad’s restrooms. Talk about a $#*@%y situation! After you’re done with Mission: Impossible #2, you will need to get them fed too! Where are you feeding them? Well, anywhere you can do it comfortably. It’s hard enough getting a bottle warmed up! I feel extremely bad for you breastfeeding moms.
Lastly, if you plan on bringing them to someone else’s house, here’s a tip: Your child is most likely on a routine at your house. Try to keep that routine going and know that it will not be the same somewhere else. New environments make it a lot harder to take care of them. I personally do not enjoy being outside the house at this stage (if you couldn’t already tell). So venture out at your own risk!
Your vacations will never be the same. By reading the info above, that should give you an idea of what you’ll be looking forward to on a vacation. Obviously, as they get older and more independent, your vacations will get easier. Take a last hoorah! Vacation before you have your baby, if possible. Make sure to check with your wife’s doctor before making a trip during pregnancy and always do what’s safest for your little baby.
4. YOU WILL DO THINGS YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU WOULD
HOLDING A BABY
I refused to hold a baby before mine came. I would reluctantly stick out my arms and hold them off in the distance and quickly pass them back. Everyone always tells you that it’s different when they are your own. That is definitely true! I will also tell you, just because you are holding them does not mean you will bond right away. You might think to yourself, “this is pretty cool that I helped make this thing,” but bonding will most likely take time. Don’t feel bad about that!
Yet another thing I refused to do. Thanks to the amazing team at the Toledo NICU, they forced me to change diapers. This was a good thing and it really isn’t that difficult. The more you change, the quicker you get at it and the less you care. I would never change a poopy diaper without rubber gloves for the first few months. Now, it is what it is.
TAKING A MILLION PICTURES
I always made fun of my wife’s dad for taking a million and one pictures of everything. Now I get it! Lol. But remember that your friends are going to get sick of seeing all of the pics on social media. Maybe consider making a separate page or upload the pics to a site that you can share with friends and family.
One last piece of advice with pictures is, you can never be too careful. Cover up your kids if taking bath pics, etc. There are way too many internet predators out there. Keep that in mind.
THINKING YOUR KIDS ARE ADORABLE
People always talk about how cute their kids are. I’ve got to admit, I thought my kids looked like little aliens when they were first born. Everyone was telling me how cute they were and I was thinking to myself, “Sure they are…” They are really cute now though! Seriously. That’s the danger. You will think your kid is the cutest, the smartest, etc. Just remember this, do us all a favor and don’t be one of those obnoxious parents.
5. KISS YOUR PERSONAL ENDEAVORS GOODBYE! (I’M KIDDING, SORT OF)
I am a business owner. I am a workaholic. I am now stuck at home. Lol. Things don’t always go as planned, but that’s ok. My wife has amazing insurance from work and now I’m the primary stay at home parent. I’m ok with it now. Your work endeavors may change now that you have kids. They may need to be slowed down so you can enjoy the first parts of your child’s new life. They may need to be changed completely. Time is greater than money, in my opinion.
I am a guitarist, song writer, lead singer for a band, music director at my church, etc. All of these things had to be put on hold. I even have had to step down from my position as main music leader at church for now. Life is going to change and it’s ok to put your hobbies to the side. Things will get easier as your child grows up. Be willing to give up your desires, if possible, to help nurture and take care of the new life you brought into this world.
I had a really nice decked out, fully loaded sports car. I had to give it up. It sucked at first, but you gotta do what you gotta do. (still crying on the inside) I also really don’t care what I wear at the moment. That’s weird because I’m always conscious of making sure I look good. I have to remind myself that I don’t need to start shopping at “Old Man’s Outfitters” just yet. But your ideas of material possessions, what you wear, and everything else may get temporarily tossed to the side.
Now that you have read through all of this, you clearly have 2 choices.
“Embrace it and face the facts or embrace it and face the facts.” –Super Dad.
With that said, good luck and welcome to the new #dadventures at hand, Super Dad!