Things I Wish I’d Known When I First Became a Father
I felt quite ready for fatherhood when the moment arrived. I came from a large family and an even larger extended family. Plus, my mom babysat on the side for extra income, so I was exposed to babies, toddlers, and young children all of my life. When the time came for me to have children of my own, you might say I was a lifelong student of the game.
But until you experience it yourself, there are some things they don’t tell you. And despite all the wonderful instruction manuals on the Internet and on bookshelves, there’s no substitute for the real thing. That said, there are plenty of things I wish I’d known when I first became a father.
You’re on your own
We spent two and a half joy-filled days in the hospital when our first was born, but when we were discharged, it hit us – this baby was ours now. Sitting in the security and relative comfort of the hospital, we still hadn’t felt that change. But reality set in fast and we suddenly realized we were on our own. It’s not that the fun had ended, but we were instantly overwhelmed, to say the least. As we settled into a groove with life and our newborn, I realized that it wasn’t going to be so tough. There is such a thing as parental instinct.
Everybody wants to sleep
The baby wants to sleep, the mom deservedly wants to sleep, and so does dad. Yet it rarely happens when all three get to do it together at the same time. However you manage to get it, just be sure to get it. You thought you loved sleep before, but it really becomes a precious commodity after baby arrives.
You don’t need a lot of stuff
Like most expecting parents, we tried to arm ourselves with all the tools we’d need to raise our child. We learned later on that we really didn’t need it all. Baby stores try to convince you that you’ll need a lot of stuff, but don’t fall into the trap. It’s true you’ll need a stroller, but not an indestructible tank with shock absorbers, device plug-ins, food refrigeration, and an internal coffee maker. Once you’re through with babies, you’ll realize you have a lot of junk that really isn’t all that pertinent to babying. Stick to the basics and you’ll be fine.
Buy stock in diaper companies
I knew we’d use diapers, but not this much. You’ll still have time to make quick runs to the store, but I can assure you it won’t be for food. Reusable diapers may not be for everyone, but I can pretty much guarantee you they’ll save a ton of money.
Safety is the most important thing
It’s very expensive to childproof your home, and while you need some of it, you really don’t need it all. What you need even more is an attitude that keeps your child’s safety in mind at all times. In other words, babyproofing your home is important, but what’s even more paramount is putting safety first and having a mindset where safety is number one. Simply put, don’t leave things sitting around that can end up in mouths or cause danger.
Dads are parents, too
When our first child was born, everyone was talking to my wife: doctors at well checks, baby product advertisements, fellow parents, and later, school teachers at conferences. Dads can be made to feel inferior, but they’re no less equal and competent as parents. The rest of the world may think moms are in the lead, but this parenting thing is a joint affair – and dads are truly heroic. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.