40 Top Tips for New Dads
By Tony Chen at www.savvydaddy.com
We've been there, too. Being a new dad is awesome & crazy & overwhelming & humbling & frustrating all at the same time. There hasn't been one dad in the history of dadkind that hasn't been 'figuring it out along the way." To help you jump up that learning curve a little faster, here are some tips - for new dads by new dads that have been there.
1. Don’t ask for your dad friends for advice. They'll tell ya to "enjoy the ride" and "don't worry too much." Instead, ask for their stories.
2. Change all your email/computer passwords so that you can type them with one hand. You'll be holding a newborn in one arm more than you might think.
3. Don't be afraid to take your baby out with you. At this stage, they're really just a big man-bag (that also happens to poop & demand attention once in a while). It's actually easier to take them out now - just wait until they get mobile. Plus, they'll enjoy and benefit from the visual stimulation.
4. If you get really frustrated or overwhelmed, put the screaming kid down and step away. A few deep breaths and you’ll be back in the game and love the way those screams sound. Babies cry. But then they stop.
5. Everything takes a little longer than you would expect. I can't count the number of times when I'm in the garage & in the car, and I'll have to come back in the house to get "one last thing."
6. Start up a gmail.com account for your kid, and email them letters on birthdays & milestones "today, you walked for the first time". Better yet, every time they say something hilarious, document it by emailing their account. One day, you can turn over the account to them. Yes, they'll think you're a dork.
7. Put this number into your mobile phone: 0800 764 766. It’s the New Zealand National Poisons Centre Hotline. If you ever wonder what to do if your kid gets into something they shouldn't have, call them. Half the calls they get are from parents with kids under 5. And get this, 80% of the time, they can treat you right over the phone (and the poison doesn’t have time to get into their system). What ever you can do to avoid the ER with a little kid is a good thing.
8. Don't worry if you have no idea what in the world you are doing. It gets to the best of us.
9. Use empty tissue boxes to store plastic bags. Just seems like we use plastic bags for everything when we have little ones around.
10. Put nappies/wipes everywhere. Put a few extra in your trunks, at places you visit often (like your in-laws), in most of the rooms in your house.
11. Put a picture of your kid in your wallet. If you ever lose your wallet, you're statistically more likely to get it back. (you can do this even if you don't have kids)
12. If you want to make your own baby food, it's easier than you think. Just steam a bunch of fresh vegetables, blend them up, and then store them in a ice cube tray. 1-2 cubes is the perfect size for a meal. Just microwave and voila!
13. Lots of fatherhood advice out there. The best advice ever: Be there & be a good role model. That's it. Don't worry about too much else.
14. Find a couple couples you trust and trade babysitting nights. You and your wife need time together. Otherwise, you'll just feel like smelly roommates. Oh, and when you do go out, try to have some kid-free talk, too.
15. Take lots of pictures and videos. And get your wife to also; otherwise, you're never in any shots.
16. Nice rule of thumb for birthday parties - invite one kid if your kid's turning 1, 2 kids if your kid's turning 2. Any more is really just for the older kids (and the parents).
17. Don't forget your own hobbies. You should see my kids' eyes when I start playing my accordion. In 15 years, we are going to be the best accordion trio ever.
18. Time to double-down on your creativity for romancing your wife. It’s way to easy for things to center around the kids.
19. Kids are sponges those first few years. Expose them to a lot. As best as you can, teach them a second language in those years.
20. I know a dad who had 2 amazing young kids – they were so well-behaved, sweet, responsible, thoughtful, and well… so awesome. Everyone praised him and his wife for being such awesome parents. Then, kid #3 came along, she was a terror, and all the praise stopped. Sometimes kids turn out the way they do because of their innate personality versus our parenting. Some good perspective when you think you've messed up as a parent: Remember, God is the perfect parent, and yet his first 2 kids ran away from home. And then his grandson killed his other grandson. So, don't stress out - we all have free will.
21. Don't be your kid's best friend, be their best dad.
22. Get your will in place. Life insurance, too. Yes, it's unpleasant, but it's about protecting your family whether you're there or not.
23. It does take a village. So be a part of a larger group - it makes for such a richer experience for the kids, too.
24. Read to your kids as early and as often as they'll let you.
25. One pediatrician once said, ""Remember, this is the baby's first time too. He does not know if you did it perfectly correctly or not. You will make mistakes. Get over it."
26. Even if the baby did come with a manual, would you really read it?
27. Buy 1000 marbles and put them in a big glass jar. Every Saturday morning take a marble out of the jar (after your child is old enough to avoid the choking thing, you can give them to him/her). That is about how many Saturdays you have to spend with your child before they are off on their own. It's a great visual reminder to take advantage of the time you have together. You will be astonished how quickly the marbles disappear.
28. Your baby will be better than average in some areas, below average in other areas, and just average in lots of areas. Every kid is different - don't sweat it too much.
29. The best adventures are unplanned.
30. Whether you’re a stay-at-home-dad or the breadwinner of the family, remember that being a dad is a full-time job. Whether you’re with them or not, you’re their dad.
31. “By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong” – Charles Wadsworth.
32. Your child would rather you be a good parent than a perfect one.
33. Trust yourself, cherish your spouse, and enjoy every stinking moment.
34. Most advice is overrated, including this.
35. Laugh. A lot. Laugh at yourself. Being a dad is fun, ain’t it?
36. For one birthday, just give them the gift of empty boxes. Those darn things seem to be more fun than the toys themselves. Better yet, save all that bubble wrap in a box, and wrap that in a box for a present.
37. No matter what you’re going through, you ain’t the only one going through whatever it is you’re going through.
38. Put a stash of kids’ socks right by the door. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to go upstairs to chase down some socks right before we’re trying to leave.
39. Just be there.
40. Kids need both stimulation and boredom. Give them opportunities for both.
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