I still consider myself a “rookie” as far as being a dad goes. It has only been five years! A lot has happened in those years good and bad, so this is my top 5 tips for new fathers at this point on my journey so far.
Tips for new fathers #1: Manage expectations
This includes yours, your partner’s, your child’s even your parents or in laws. This is all about communication. What do you expect? What does your partner expect? These expectations can be extremely different and if you do not let other’s know what your intentions are, when/if things don’t go the way you intended, it will be on you. I am not saying that just because you let people know what your intentions are, that things will go that way, but it will help make it easier for everyone involved. If everyone knows what other people are expecting it will make you life go much more smoothly.
Tips for new fathers #2: Accept change
Things are ALWAYS changing! Be open to it. I have a routine that I go through everyday, I wake up and get my coffee … that actually doesn’t change but after that there are little things that will be different everyday. Let them change and go with it, allow for it. If you think that things have to be done in a certain way the same way everytime, you are doomed! If you change your kid’s diaper differently than your partner, who care (especially if they are changing diapers). I think it is good for kids to see things done differently. I hear it at least once a week from my kids,“That’s not the way mommy does it!” – ”That’s right, because I am not mommy and there is always more than one way of doing things.”
Find your way and do, don’t expect others to have to do it that way.
Tips for new fathers #3: Don’t compare
This is hard for us all, we all do it and I am sure no matter what, we all will still do it. All kids (people for that matter) are different, if you compare your kids to the neighbors kids then everything you do will become competitive and done for the wrong reason, and probably at the wrong time. Raising kids is not a “competitive” sport here people! We all have to teach our kids the same things (hopefully that is how to be compassionate, kind and loving human being of some sort). When you compare your kids or yourself to others it doesn’t do anyone any good.
Tips for new fathers #4: Take “adult time”
Being a stay at home parent, I know how important this is, you can get stuck in the grind and it will slowly wear you down. I never notice it; it slowly creeps up on me until my wife comes home one day to find me frazzled and at my wits end almost balled up and crying in the corner. We do not have any relatives that live close by (they all are at least three states away). So, my wife and I do not have the luxury of dropping our boys off at the grandparents so we can go have a date night. We are still working on it that aspect of our lives, finding a reliable babysitter, making sure we give ourselves time for ourselves. If I don’t have time to decompress, it will come out in negative ways throughout the days and I don’t want my boys to see this and experience that kind of negativity or even follow that lead. Work on the balance of what you need for yourself and what your family needs. You won’t be any good to your kids if you don’t take care of yourself too.
Tips for new fathers #5: Slow down
It’s gonna be over before you know it! So really make sure you enjoy the little moments as much as you possible can! I miss the naps the most, snuggling up next to my kids and fall off into dreamland, waking up to seeing their smiling faces.
A version of this first appeared on OneS@HD.