My little girl just celebrated her first birthday on September 15. It was literally in a blink-of-an-eye that the year has passed by. The first year that I will never get back. So let me give new dads (and moms) some advice on things that I wish I had known a year ago.
1. Take lots of pictures.
As many as you can. They change so fast, so quickly. My little girl looks more like a kid rather than a baby now. In those earlier moments it seems like they will be a crying, up-all-night baby forever. But, I promise you, it goes by quicker than you can imagine.
2. Love your wife.
It’s easy to forget about her while you are learning to live with a new baby. Just remember that not only is her whole lifestyle changing, her body is still re-adjusting to not being pregnant anymore. Her hormones are all over the place, and the stress is high. She needs you more than ever to be supportive and to help out as much as you can. Don’t forget to continue to give her attention, too. She deserves it.
3. Keeping your house organized is wasting your time.
I’ve spent hours and hours and hours of my life trying to continuously pick up after my daughter. It’s just not possible to keep your home looking like it did pre-baby. Once they start crawling, they will get into EVERYTHING. So make sure you baby-proof as much as you can, but I guarantee that they will still amaze you at the things they can get ahold of. My home currently looks like a toy war zone. If I put it all away today, tomorrow morning will look the same. So what’s the point?
4. Devote as much time to family as possible.
Because it passes by so quickly, I think that it’s important to spend as much time as possible with your family. You don’t get these first moments back. Once they happen, that’s it. If you miss out, you are surely going to regret it. First crawling, first foods, first steps, first words, etc. You, as the father, want to capture these memories!
5. Save as much money as you can.
Having a baby is expensive. Not just for the doctor’s bills. Between bottles, formula, diapers and clothes, it’s like a never-ending bill. Hopefully your wife is on the breastfeeding bandwagon, as that is best for the child and also saves a lot of money! If not, formula cans add up quick, as well as all the other expenses. Every week it seems like there is something new that we need to get for the baby. It would be a great idea to have a little cushion of money for these random expenses.
6. Get a babysitter and take some time off.
You can’t be the super-parent always. You will need a break. That’s perfectly normal and acceptable. Take your wife out to dinner, or maybe go out to see a movie. Do something other than be a parent. The first year is physically and mentally draining. You will feel like you are going crazy if you don’t. Free time helps relieve stress.
7. Time to man up.
Going out all night drinking and partying is a thing of the past. At least I would hope so. If you are still trying to do that, reevaluate yourself. You’re a dad now. Be one. Be there for your kids. You will survive without participating in that late-night bar crawl.
8. You will fall in love.
Maybe you aren’t with your child’s mother? Maybe you have never even been in love before. If you haven’t, you will know what love feels like after your first child is born. I can’t explain it, but you will find out. And be affectionate, it doesn’t make you less of a macho man to show your children that you love them. If you have already been in love, you will experience that all over again, but it’s a little different. There’s just something about the love you have for your own children. Nothing else can compare to.
These are a few of the most important things to know. I know there are many, many more. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, or better yet, add to my list!