Where is my parenting instruction manual?
Parenting is like, the hardest thing that has ever existed. Even worse, there is literally no right way to parent (though there are definitely several wrong ways) and every kid is different, leading to an intense feeling of "wtf am I doing."
In order to curb that feeling, u/GiggaWat asked Reddit:
Dads of reddit, what is your advice for new dads?
Here are some of those pieces of advice.
Not A Creature Was Stirring
Do NOT have it dead silent in your home when your child is asleep. Do your normal routine or noise level or you end up with a child who is easily woken up by a mouse fart.
Love And Care
- Don't worry if the kid doesn't respond to you for the first few weeks/months. It usually takes longer than bonding with the mom. It will happen I promise
- Just like previously posted.... everything is a phase and it will pass. Goes for the good and bad. Enjoy those late nights somehow because soon you will wish they did call for you and you could come to the rescue.
- My wife has to remind me all the time, they are babies and they don't know better. Remember this when you inevitably get frustrated with them. It's not personal
- Figure out something that you and only you do to help out. Mine was bath time. I gave my daughter every bath/shower except maybe 3 until she was 2 years old. Also always did morning bottle feeds. I liked being the first thing she sees in the morning.
- When buying things. Function>Form
- Take lots of video and pictures. Can never have too many and can never get them back if you don't.
- Try not to take your kid out to be handled in public unless necessary before 3 months. If they get sick and you go to the ER with a high fever because their immune system can't handle the world yet, they will do a spinal tap and it will break your heart putting them in that much pain.
- Ask questions, who cares if you feel dumb for asking. We have all done it and it's better to be safe than sorry.
Why Am I Crying?
Want to suck on something
It's probably one of them.
It's A Hard Journey
I've got a 4 and a 5 year old. Here are my bits of advice...
- Depending on your work schedule try and be there for the night feeds. My wife struggled staying awake to feed, so it was helpful for me to stay up, watch TV and talk to help keep her from falling asleep with baby in arms
- Help out and be as hands on as you can
- Try to keep your cool and don't lose your temper (this can be hard with sleep deprivation!)
- Your wife/partner will most likely be absolutely f-cked. Try and give her regular breaks by taking baby for a walk or to the shops. This is good baby bonding time for you too
- Babies need constant attention which can be draining on both you and your relationship. It's important to remain a team and talk as much as you can. If you have family or friends that can have baby for a little while, it's good to have a bit of alone time together.
- Remember that everything is not permanent and things come in phases. The being woken up in the middle of the night, being pissed all over, changing 15 nappies a day, not having a moment to yourself. Things may seem hard right now, but don't stress over it to much, it's all a phase.
Hope this helps!
Hit Ze Gym
Get in shape now. You'll be carrying a lot more stuff and will be chasing you kid around soon enough.
Practice What You Preach
The biggest thing I've probably learned from being a step-dad is if you want them to clean their room, you have to keep your room clean too. I mean that metaphorically too. You have to be a role model for the behaviors you want them to have.
Days Are Long But Years Are Short
The micro goes by very slowly. The macro is like light speed.
Motion Of The Ocean
Cannot stress this enough. wipe front to back. And get some baby tenderparts cream(i forget what it is called), that way you won't have to wake as much. And more importantly the baby will feel better.
Take over the mental load from your partner.
It's invisible work that goes unnoticed - the knowing what is coming, what jabs and immunisations there needs to be, what appointments are going to be happening, what needs to be prepared and ready every day.
You can do the chores, and that stuff will get visually noticed by everyone and it'll feel good and is definitely helpful. But if you're not involved in the thinking and planning side of things then it will just be a drain on your partner.
So make sure that there are enough clean clothes for everyone, that bags are packed and ready for leaving the house, that spare changes of clothing are ready - your partner and child will love you for it cos everything will run far smoother.
Other than that, at least half the night waking where possible and whatever it takes to get through the day without crying.
Fall Down Tired
A little advice I learned from an Army Ranger: never stand when you can lean, never lean when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never lie down when you can nap.
Spend as much time as you can with your kids. They grow up so fast.
Don't forget to still be a good husband, as well as good dad.
A few years down the road when they are older, they will challenge you. Allow them to be a vehicle of self reflection and change for you. Why are you saying no? What are your preconceived ideas about parenting; about discipline; about life? My two girls made me do so much self reflection while they were growing up. I learned so much about myself through their presence in my life.
Always Stay Calm
I can give you a couple pieces of advice that I have used from day one, and I have an amazing relationship with my son now.
- Try teach your child as much as possible from as young as you can. They will ask a million questions because everything is brand new and interesting to them. So many parents I've seen just ignore kids or tell them to be quiet when they feel like they keep asking questions, but they are missing out on so many teachable moments! Everything you do is something they can learn. If you go outside with them and you see a cool bug, Google it and explain what it is. When you are cooking, let them follow the recipe with you and see how it's done. When it's time to shave, let them watch. All of this will leave a massive impression on them, and will lead to so many good memories later.
- Be understanding. Your kid is a brand new, blank slate driven by emotions. You can teach them as well as you can, but they are still their own unique person. They will make mistakes, argue, get upset, throw tantrums, and frustrate you. Instead of getting angry and reacting with it, stay calm and try to figure out where the behavior is coming from. Wether it's hunger, fatigue, too much TV time, not enough attention, or significant life changes, there is almost always a reason for behavior issues. You will get better results with your little one if you talk about what's wrong and help them through it than you will by yelling at them, or punishing them to make them stop. You will also build a foundation of trust that will make it easier to communicate honestly as they get older as well.
Don't freak out if you don't initially bond with the kid right away. It's often not instantaneous for men ...it took about 2 weeks for me to start bonding, and from there they became my everything.
It's Not About You
I don't care if you're tired or having a sh-tty day. Read with your child.
Hugs: Always Welcome
Just hug them. There's never a wrong time.
Save Some Money, Save Your Sanity
Also, never buy new clothes and toys for babies. Shop at consignment sales.
Get a worry tree. What's that you ask? It's from a story someone told me a long time ago (I don't believe anyone knows the origin).
A handyman I hired to help me do some work around the house had a rough day. He'd gotten a flat on the way over to the house, a power tool stopped working, and he couldn't get his truck started at quitting time. I offered to drive him home, and he sat in taciturn silence the whole drive.
When we got to his house he gruffly invited me in to meet his family. Halfway up the sidewalk he stopped at a small tree, touching different branches here and there. Then he took a deep breath, finished the walk up to the house and opened the front door. Suddenly, he was a different person; he was all smiles as he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.
He introduced me, and I enjoyed meeting his wife and kids. As we walked back to my car past the tree, my curiosity kicked in. I asked about tree-touching ceremony.
He said, "That's my worry tree. I know sometimes I'm gonna have bad days, but my worries are mine, not my family's. So every night when I come home and walk past that tree I just hang my worries on it instead of taking them in the house with me. Then in the morning I pick them up again."
"Most times," he smiled, "when I go to pick 'em up in the morning there ain't as many hangin' there as I remember from the night before."
Take A Back Seat
Don't presume that you're going to 'create' your child's personality; that sh-t comes factory-installed!