I’ve been a dad for a total of seven and a half years now. I have dealt with many different situations that raising children brings up. Being a dad is daunting, especially a first-time dad. That feeling of utter helplessness when you take your first born home for the very first time will never leave me. Being a dad is also the single most rewarding thing that will ever happen to you. Nothing can fill your life with joy as much as a child. Well, apart from a Ferrari, a Ferrari would bring me a lot of joy. Below is my list of things that I think can help you to be the best dad that you can be. This is all based on my experiences as a parent.
Don’t worry about being a good dad.
You’re doing a great job. They say “women’s intuition” is a great thing. Believe me, you have your own as well. Even if you haven’t read any books or visited any websites on how to be a parent, you will find the way. It does just come naturally.
Get out as soon as you can after the baby is born.
There may be many reasons as to why you might not be able to go out shortly after having a child but, as soon as you are able to, go out. Even if it is just a quick 15 minute walk around the block. Go out with your child and try and get some normality back to your lives, everything will start to feel easier after your first trip out.
Take the night feeds.
If your partner isn’t breastfeeding then take the night feeds. If they express then also, take the feed. I took a lot of the night feeds with our children, especially our second child, Alice. My wife had a C-section and so needed to rest for a few weeks after it. I took all the night feeds for several weeks and as much as it is tiring, it is a great time to bond with your child. Yes, they are tired and sometimes go back to sleep whilst drinking their milk but this is time I would have missed out on if I was asleep. Especially as I am a full time working dad and my wife is a stay at home mum.
Give them cuddles. Lots of cuddles.
Cuddles make everyone feel better, right? There is nothing better than cuddling your child, especially when they are old enough to come and cuddle you first. Always make time for a quick cuddle, it can only take a few seconds and will mean the world to you and your child.
Go with your gut.
Don’t ignore your feelings on things, it is your child, if you feel something isn’t right then do something about it. This doesn’t just apply to worrying things. There will be plenty of people close to you trying to give you advice on very specific things. By all means, you can listen to their advice but if feel something different, go with your choice.
Enjoy parenting. It
goes too quick.
Lots of people say, “enjoy it while it lasts”. There’s a reason for this. Time really does fly with children. I can’t believe my son is 7 years old now. I can still remember taking him home and waking up every few minutes to check he was still breathing. Don’t spend too much time working, your children need you. Enjoy the time you have to spend with them.
Be there for your children.
Growing up is hard. Children have so many things to learn. They can be very hard work but we should always be there for them, to comfort them, and to guide them. It is so much better to be remembered as the parent who was there for them, than the parent who didn’t have time for them.
Get some sleep.
People say “sleep when the baby sleeps”. This isn’t really practical when there are a million things to do around the house but you can at least attempt to go to sleep at a reasonable time. Go to bed around 10 pm. This one is obviously a hard one. This is all very dependent on how your child is. I was lucky that my children were pretty regular with their feeds, usually every 4 hours. Don’t stretch yourself to thin, you’re no good to anyone if you can hardly function because of a lack of sleep.
Have a date night.
If you can, try and schedule a date night with your partner. Being away from the kids together, even if it is only for a few hours can really help your sanity. We don’t really have anyone who can babysit often for us to do this but on the few occasions we have gone out together, it has been great. If there’s no way you can go out together, go out with your friends. Take it in turns, one of you goes out one week and one the next, have a few weeks off and then do it again. Just being able to go out and let off a bit of steam will be helpful for everyone in the long run.