Whether it’s three in the morning or high noon, this is your life now. It’s real and it’s happening…wake up and smell the poopy diaper.
As a father of three (8 weeks, 5 years, 9 years), I have had my share of sleepless nights and diaper changes. Over the years, I have learned a lot about what works and what definitely does not work, but am most proud to be able to say that I have happy, polite children and a wife who is a best friend and a true partner. Here are a few gems that I have gleaned from my paternal journey so far…
1. Be lighthearted
This is your greatest creation and collaboration, as it literally has happened on a molecular level to spawn life! Take that in; be grateful for this absolute miracle.
2. Don’t be an intolerable grumpy pants.
No one will have your back and life will be suffering. You aren’t the first dad and you won’t be the last. Suck it up and smile.
3. Listen closely.
Listen to your partner, listen to your baby, listen to yourself; to the words, hints and voices both spoken and unspoken.
4. Don’t assume.
Repeat this to yourself “Assuming makes an Ass out of U and Me.” Clear communication is paramount.
5. Talk to your baby.
Your baby is a person and deserves to be treated like one. Talk to them the same respectful way you would like to be talked to. Enjoy their response to your questions in coos, about anything and everything.
6. Don’t patronize your baby.
Babies are deeply aware of how you speak to them. They will pick up fake disingenuous mannerism. Don’t bullshit a pants shitter.
7. Change diapers.
Make it a game. How fast and efficiently can you change the diaper? Can you latch both sides at once? Can you double-team it with your partner? Use a stopwatch.
8. Don’t be a child.
Dudes, you have a baby… one is enough. If you want to get to step nine, suck it up, hold your breath if you need too. Man up.
9. Have sex.
Your baby didn’t get here without this; your relationship won’t survive without it. Your baby came from passion; your passion is the bedrock (pun intended) of your family. Be a good daddy, but more importantly be an amazing lover…a sad dad is a bad dad…
10. Don’t feel entitled.
Sex will happen by virtue of doing all the things on this list and by being a good dude by sharing the load. Not because you think you deserve it.
11. Daddy time.
Share the privilege of taking care of your little one. I have mine around 9:30 – 1 am on the regular. Let your partner sleep! Feed your baby, hang, and laugh. It is a great bonding opportunity and nullifies sleep deprivation, which makes everyone happier.
12. Don’t expect your partner to do everything.
Holy smokes, this one is important. Unless you want a sleep-robbed, bitter roommate, hell-bent on your destruction, make sure you are picking up the slack and more. Talk to your partner about expectations (remember, don’t assume).
13. Tone mindfulness.
Speak to your baby in a low, soft, sweet voice (in fact, this will work on all people). The tone we use is often more communicative than the words we choose. Try it out.
14. Be patient.
I don’t care if your kid craps on your brand new white couch, interrupts a romantic moment, or makes you miss the last play of a game. This is a pure new life. Your honor and your job is to bring shape to their formless world. Remember this.
15. Massage your people
Massage your baby regularly. It helps them go potty and mellows them out big time. There are some fantastic videos online. Rub your partner also. C’mon, see #9.
16. Don’t expect it back.
The gift needs to be in the giving. When this is the vibe you put forth and you are understanding and have no expectations, miracles happen.
17. Burp the baby.
Take one for the team, drape the burp cloth, raise their little bum high, and pat from lower back to upper. Spit up, no big deal… job well done.
18. Laugh it off.
If your baby hurls on you (or pees on you, poops on you, etc.), laugh. It is bound to happen, so there is no use fighting it. After all, you probably would if it happened to someone else or in a YouTube video.
19. Leave work outside of the home.
Be home when you are home, leave the work in the office. Sometimes this is not possible, but if it is, make it a priority. Your people know and feel the difference when you are fully present to them. Put the phone down. Seriously, put the phone down.
20. Take it all in.
Don’t forget to pause and take it all in. This time is special and it is fleeting, you can never get it back. Soak it up. Embrace it. You are doing great.