I’ve been a father for a little over a year now. And I don’t mean some Don Draper type who leaves my wife at home in an apron and high heels do all the heavy lifting while I sneak around with my neighbor’s wives. I’ve been at the house with my kid, almost every day doing dad things. I’m well aware that my experience is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to parenting and I’m not claiming to be a parenting guru, I’m just a guy who learned some things that can help first-time dads get through what may be the roughest time in their lives. So here we go:
You Still have to Take Care of Everyday Stuff
Even if you don’t know anything about being a parent, you know that it’s hard work. But what I was totally unprepared for when my daughter was born, was that on top of the workload of ensuring my little adorable, screaming, poop machine stays alive another day, was that all the regular, everyday stuff I used to do didn’t disappear.
Basic stuff, taking out the trash, renewing your driver’s license, paying your insurance premiums, tending to all the stuff that is falling apart in the house (stuff is always falling apart in the damn house), going to the grocery store and the big ones: cooking and making sure that the house is clean. You have to find the time to do this stuff when you aren’t tending your little 20-pound hellraiser.
Make sure to get with your parenting partner and divvy up the work. If you let it accumulate, it could get overwhelming and expensive. So get it done as quickly as you can.
Parenting is a Physical Endeavour
It takes physical prowess to be a parent. Your kid comes out not knowing how to walk, which means you have to lift them everywhere. It may not seem like a lot, but after holding a kid for five minutes, your arms and shoulders will be sore. As your kid gets older and more mobile you have to stay in shape to chase after them and when they become teenagers, you probably have train your body in preparation to fight them to decide who gets to rule the house (I call this the Nal zone).
I found this out the hard way when my daughter was a couple of weeks old and I was trying to rock her to sleep at some ungodly hour; holding a kid for 10 or 20 minutes is harder than it looks. I rejoined the gym as soon as they were open again after lockdowns.
Whether you’re holding your kid, pushing a stroller, rocking them to sleep or bathing them, caring for kids is physically intensive, so be sure to take care of your body. Lift weights, go for a run or a walk, do yoga, or ride your bike. If you can find the time, do what you need to do to keep your body tuned up, your kid needs you in the best shape you can possibly be in.
Don’t Panic, It’s Either Gas or Teething
Newborn kids cry. That’s like saying the sky is blue or the sun is up, it’s a fact of life. But not all cries are created equal. Sometimes there’s a horrible, disconcerting death-howls. Sometimes is lasts an hour, or two, sometimes it’s all night. I’m here to tell you, it’s probably not as bad as you think. Your baby either has gas or is teething.
This is my procedure, keeping in mind that I’m not an expert and I haven’t had to deal with this for a while. I check my kid’s belly. If it’s bloated and she’s screaming a guttorial scream I give her gas drops. If she bites me in my big, dumb face, that means she’s teething so I give her pain meds for her teeth. If none of these work, I yell to the heavens for help and call the doctor the next day.
All kids are different, yours may act different, consult with your doctor to figure out something that works for you.