Next month will mark 6 months since becoming a first time dad. How time flies when you’re scrambling like a headless chicken gasping for air, and of course having the time of my life as I watch my son develop and grow day by day.
Safe to say I am not the same person I was 6 months ago. There have been many changes, some positive and some not so positive. Positives include: having a greater appreciation for our female counterparts, our beautiful son, Caleb and the warm . As night follows day the negatives that have developed (from issues arising mostly at night) include: bags under my eyes, a complete disregard for wearing clothes covered in vomit, and gaining as many extra kg’s as Caleb currently weighs.
Being the first of my friends in New Zealand to enter the realm of wrestling baby seats into cars, trying to map out baby pictures from ultrasound scans like some deranged Topography map, and our close family on the other side of the world. We were flying somewhat blind but with lots of moral support from both family (via skype) and friends, we are managing to pull through pretty well.
I was told multiple times from friends and family to get as much sleep as possible. I’m not sure if they realise that sleep is not something you can accumulate and save for a later time, like health points on a computer game! So with zero experience, close family on the other side of the world and too much info on the net, I approached fatherhood with as little pre-reading as possible. Having completed the first few months of fatherhood I have now gained some insight on how to survive those first few months.
Here are a few practical parental survival tips from my first few months that you may not see on a blog or baby book. Please note that these tips may help but are by no means the most important tips or ideas you should follow when preparing to become a father!
1 – Learn to meditate
No joke this tip was handed down by the most unexpected, burly looking kiwi bloke but is well worth its value; not to mention the huge support meditation and mindfulness has gained from medical research for mental health recently. Meditation has been great to help me sleep when I really need to sleep, which in turn makes me a much more useful Dad. I recommend using an app called “headspace” which is free and only takes 10 minutes. Remember too, you don’t have to reach a higher place of enlightenment just let the process chill you out!
2 – Get Momento
Momento is another app which acts like a photo diary where you can attach pictures and notes to dates. Your phone will soon be choc-a-block with baby pictures. Momento allows you to attach the pictures with notes in a calendar format which make these pictures much more memorable, such as first time meeting the grandparents, the first morning they slept well or the first time they vomited on your face.
3 – Exercise (but mostly for fun)
I tried initially to train most days in the gym in the early weeks which did not last. Feeling my knees tremble with DOMs at 2am while settling Caleb was not great. Learning to accept that training has to go on the back burner while still making time for a quick surf, sea swim or anything which gets you outside and releasing those feel good endorphins I found more beneficial than grinding it out at the gym.
Remember, it’s a team event, if you stick together and hold on tight for the first few months the dust will finally settle from what seemed like a cyclone touching down in your house, and you will find time in the day to exercise regularly again and get your life into a bit of normality.