Six years ago I wrote a guest blog post for the Larger Family Life blog and I was reminded of this fact via the handy Facebook memories notification this morning. I read the post back and realised that sometimes I’m not following my own advice! For the most part I do, but we all fail sometime or another don’t we.
You can read that original guest post here or I have recreated it below.
(P.S. The photo above it the one used in the original post. This photo always make us laugh when we look at it as we have no idea why we are all leaning like that!)
The 28th of September 2003. It’s a day I will never forget for as long as I live. In the early hours of that Sunday morning my life changed forever. This was no small change, this was step change. My first daughter was born.
Fast forward 8 years and she has three younger sisters, and my wife and I find ourselves the parent’s of 4 beautiful girls; each an individual with difference personalities. I’m quite relaxed about having children these days but becoming a Dad for the first time was very scary indeed and one thing I have never understood is the lack of advice offered to me by my own Dad.
My Dad passed away between daughters 2 and 3 so I can’t ask him to answer the question of why he offered me no advice. I have my suspicions but there really is no need to divulge that here. So I thought I would write about what I wish he had told me instead.
Firstly I wish he had told me how much my life would be turned upside down, but in a good way. Nothing can prepare you for the day you bring your new baby home, but know this – nothing will ever be the same again. Paternal instinct takes over and in a big way. All of a sudden you love this little human being more than anything else in the world and your instinct to protect him or her is overwhelming.
There’s a scene in Only Fools and Horses after Del and Raquel’s son is born where Del is holding the baby in the window of the hospital and telling him how much he is loved and how he is going to be the best Dad etc etc. I can remember doing something similar with all my children, and I can especially remember with my first that gut wrenching feeling whilst holding my first newborn baby – that feeling of love and responsibility. I wish my Dad could have prepared me in some way for that, just so I knew what was coming.
I’m not sure my own Dad was overly hands on in the whole baby bathing, clothing, nappy changing arena but I never shirked this responsibility myself. Of course the turn of events had a lot to do with that. Just a few days after our first girl was born my mother-in-law was rushed into hospital as she had fallen seriously ill; and just 3 weeks into her young life our new baby lost a Grandmother. This was an extremely difficult time and my wife spent a lot of time at the hospital with her mum – leaving me with baby for much of the time. So the reason I became so hands on was because I was “it” for many of those early days. I would do anything the be able to bring back my mother-in-law but looking back that time created a special bond between me and my first baby and that will stay with me forever.
My Dad never told me he loved me but I knew he did, he didn’t have to say it. I shower my children with all the love and affection I can muster, and then some. The best things you can give a child is love and security in that love; let them know you are there for them whenever they need you.
I like lists so here’s my 5 tips for new Dads:
- Your life WILL change. Prepare for all your existing priorities to go out of the window and to suddenly have a new (smaller) set of priorities.
- Be involved. Change nappies, bath baby, dress baby, feed baby (if you can). Do it all and your bond will be amazing.
- Take photos. You baby will grow quickly and before you know it they’ll be a year old and you’ll wonder where the last year has gone. Document that special time for (tearful) look backs.
- Get rid of inhibitions. Make silly noises, play silly games, do silly things – babies love it. Don’t worry about other people thinking your silly – for the most part people will think it’s cute.
- Make “me” time. Your baby will take over you life but we’ve always found that making a little time to be a couple is an enormous help. You make not feel happy going out and leaving your baby with anybody, so if that’s that’s the case then set time aside to have a romantic meal and a movie at home.
If you are an expectant father – GOOD LUCK!
Thanks for reading and I’d love to know you thoughts on this in the comments.