When my wife was pregnant with our son the two of us went to all the birthing classes that were offered, and I definitely needed to know some tips for new dads. I practiced changing diapers. I prepared to lose sleep. But when we first brought our new little one home I quickly realized that all of the practice in the world does not prepare you to be a new dad. It has been almost four years since that day, and I have learned that fatherhood is the most fun adventure a man can have. While I have just one child and I am certainly no expert at fatherhood, here is the advice I give friends as they prepare to become fathers for the first time.
Just Make It Through The First Two Weeks
The first thing I tell new dads is to just try to make it through the first two weeks with your sanity (mostly) intact. Those two weeks are filled with crying from the baby, crying from your wife, sleepless nights, family in at all times (which is a blessing, but eventually you're ready for them to go), constant feedings, and constant changings. Not to mention that you and your wife are just winging it and trying to make it through the day.
I remember thinking during those first two weeks that I did not know why anyone would want more than one child. It's just a very stressful time. After those first two weeks, though, you regain (most of) your sanity and you start to figure things out.
Take Lots of Pictures
My wife and I aren't picture people. We don't take our camera everywhere and we don't think to take pictures as much as we should. That had to change when we had our baby. We did not go anywhere without the camera handy. I'm so glad that we changed our habits. It is a lot of fun to look back and see his growth throughout the years and see how his new mom and new dad interacted with him.
Everybody is told this, but those first few months really do fly by before you know it. Those pictures will become invaluable. So if you are like me, and you don't think to take the camera all the time, change your ways. You'll appreciate it down the road.
Don't Look Forward to Down the Road
I had a tendency to say things like, "I can't wait until he can walk. We'll have so much fun" or "I can't wait until he can eat real food." I have learned that getting the "I can't waits" out of your vocabulary is a necessity. Every day with a new little one brings a new experience and it is very important to appreciate and cherish those moments. If a new dad is looking toward the future you can forget to enjoy what you have in front of you.
Make Sure to Get Involved
I was never comfortable with kids. I had never changed a diaper or been around baby food. I was a typical bumbling new dad at first. Having a baby was a major adjustment, but I'm glad I jumped in and embraced the adjustment. I learned to change diapers and baby-talk to my son. It felt weird at first, but it helped us bond much more than I had anticipated.
Plus, your wife will really appreciate the help. Life with a new baby can be hectic enough when everyone is getting along. You want to make sure to avoid additional family stress as much as possible.
Accept That You Aren't Priority #1 All the Time
Having a new baby is the most important responsibility you will ever have. It is also the most important responsibility your wife will ever have. New dads have a tendency to feel left out of their wife's life as she takes care of the baby. As a new dad, it is imperative that you accept the fact that this baby will be getting a lot of attention that you used to receive.
With some good communication, though, you can make it work. When all is said and done, you both agree that your child comes first and you can make arrangements that work for both of you. It won't be the same for everyone, but it can be done.
Relax, This is Great
Fatherhood is a blast. There is no feeling like the feeling of the love of your child. Having a new baby is stressful and tiring, but it is worth the reward of watching that child grow up little by little each day. In the end the early days won't seem that hard and you'll be ready for a new one in no time.
Hopefully these tips for new dads will get you started on the right foot.