The rather brilliant @babberblog suggested the other day, perhaps somewhat sarcastically, that I write something called ‘Tips for New Dads’ and, after due consideration, I’ve decided that it’s a rather good idea. Except I’ll go for something larger. I’m going to write something called Tips For Dads. Full the stop.
Pay heed to these and life will be all gravy. And golden. But not golden gravy because, to be honest, that sounds a bit like piss.
1) Never say ‘No. It’s your turn’ when it comes to nappy changes.
When you’re about, do them all. This way glory comes. You can experience the wriggling, turning and immensely determined baby, look them in the eyes and sing some songs. Doesn’t matter what you sing but do, they’ll love it. Plus, if you’re a working dad then you don’t get to do them during the day so spread the love.
2) Cook. Make a nice meal at least three times a week. Every day if you can.
Men know nothing about making sensible portions when cooking. If it’s a nice enough meal, then you’ve made something easy for the next day, because I bet you’ve made enough to feed a small army. You’ve made dinner plus a BSE (Bit of Something Extra) so if your OH is at home and can’t be arsed making lunch, something which can be heated up can save them time thinking about what they may or may not want to eat. Plus, everyone loves a man who can cook. This makes you a keeper. Unless you’re me. FYI, salad bags, fresh pasta like tortelloni, and salad dressing are your friend and can make you a chef in under 5 minutes. Bang tidy.
3) If you can, do the 4am or 5am feeds.
It’s lighter now at that time of the morning. If you can do this feed before you go to work then do so. You and your baby can watch the sunrise, watch Rachel Riley on the early morning Countdown repeats on Channel 4 and have a chat. Some of my favourite memories involve these feeds. And, if you can get them to sleep afterwards then you feel like a God. If it’s the weekend then pop them in a cot or Moses basket in the living room and have a snooze on the sofa. For the win!
4) Take your baby for a walk at the weekends.
It’ll allow your other half to sleep, have a lie-in, and you can get into the supermarket early, bring back some pastries for breakfast and some flowers for your partner. Plus, you can do the nod thing with other dad’s mooching around the supermarket at this time of the morning. Evolution tells us we’re hunter gatherers so hunt and gather. Plus, if your little one’s are old enough they can help you, which is anarchic fun. If you live in a market town then get some fresh shizzle from the market. It’ll all be gone by lunchtime so if you’re in town about 9ish you can come back with some good stuff. But mind the oldies on mobility scooters. They’re fucking dangerous.
5) Count to 5.
Arguments, especially one’s through sleep deprivation, are common. Ignore the temptation to bite, especially if people around you are saying things you think are silly. Keep calm and count to 5. You’re a team and a good one. Look at what you produced. Gurgling in the cot, or walking around the living room. It’s amazing. You both did that. Silly little arguments chip away at that. Count to 5 and take a deep breath. You’ll feel better for it I promise.
6) Don’t beat yourself up, or allow anyone else to do the same
Parenting is a tough job. There’s so much we can find in what we do that isn’t the right way or the way parenting experts on TV or in magazines talk about. So what. If it works, it works. And if you or your partner are having a moment where it’s all too tough then call in some friends or go for a walk. Stick the telly on or do something that gives you 5 minutes of breathing space. Don’t be tough on yourself.
7) Eat smart.
Adverts for IBM tell us we need to work smarter, not harder. Food and good food helps this. Fruit’s food and good food at that. Too much bad food gives you wind and makes you snore. Or something.
8) Get on the floor.
Play with your kids on the floor. Jigsaws and building blocks. Cars and train sets. Then you look like a playfriend to them. This is good for flexing those joints stiffened by hours at a desk, in a chair, and you can see the world at your child’s level. You may be the high heid yin at work but at home you’re no longer in charge. Accept that and enjoy the freedom. Plus, when your OH sees you on the floor making a chuff chuff noise with trains, or a brrum brrum noise with the cars, they know at that moment that all’s okay.
9) Tell them stories.
Reading is good. From an early age, it doesn’t matter if they try to rip the book out of your hand and throw it on the floor they’ll see that this is what we do with books. Sitting them on your lap reading a story is great. Making up stories is silly, and fun, especially if they involve lots of silly faces and animal noises and you can do this anywhere. Telling them stories about your family and friends. Things you’ve done and people you’ve met. People who are no longer with you and people who’ve inspired you. Tell them about what you did at work. Make a story up about the big house on the corner. Or just try to remember one.
10) Sing and dance.
Play them your favourite album. Dance to it. Put the radio on. Sing nursery rhymes. Dance around like a loon. Try not to step on their toes but show them music. Form a band. Every bloke wanted to be in a band so give your little one’s some chopsticks, a spoon and some pots and pans and make like you’re Nirvana, or The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
And, like Spinal Tap I go up to 11. With 11 being the most important tip of all.
11) Don’t take anyone else’s advice. Go with your gut.
You’re a parent and, now my friend, you’re the DADDY. You know what needs to be done. You know in your heart and you know in your head. Be kind to others and show them the Secret of Life. Fark me. Am I really about to tell you the Secret of Life? Okay. So I will. But come close. I need to whisper it because it’s a secret yeah?
*Whispers* It’s inside you. You’ve breathed it every single second since they’ve been born. Or not. It doesn’t matter. If you didn’t find that connection or that love you expected immediately, you will. I promise. Or your money back. But you know. Inside you, you know what to do.
Inside you know. Because, take it from one who knows, when it’s gone?
Of course this is just me, spaffing my brain, so, if anyone has any other tips and hints then please drop them in the comments box. I’m no expert and so I hope to learn from others. Every day.
Thanks for reading.
First published May 9th, 2012.