How it feels to be a new dad – Life Hacks – photo baby holding dad's finger

How it feels to be a new dad

A 5 minute read • Tim S

The idea of becoming a father will instil very different emotions depending on the path you’re currently taking through life. Up until my early thirties I had deliberately steered clear of any such tomfoolery, so certain I was that kids would hold me back in my career, and send my bank balance into some sort of spectacular death-dive. For many years I simply felt as though I was too selfish to ever have kids; it’s my life, and I want to do what I want.

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It’s fair to say that amongst the younger generations, talk of kids amongst peers tends to focus on the negative aspects of having them. “You’ll never get a full night’s sleep again!”, I heard them cry. “Good luck with the nappies!”, they said. “See you when they’re 18!”, they proclaimed. Suffice to say, these comments only helped solidify my position of “no kids” for many years.

“Then, in my early thirties, I met the one, and quickly found myself tackling the question of whether to have kids.”

After months of speaking to other fathers, the balance eventually tipped the other way, and I warmed to the idea. There was a common theme amongst the fathers: nobody had any regrets, and “it changes everything”. But there was a distinct lack of specifics or substance to the discussions. It seemed as though describing fatherhood was impossible: “you have to try it to believe it”.

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Fast-forward a few years, and I’m now sitting here writing this article, whilst keeping an eye on my sleeping 6-month old through a baby monitor. And I’m here to try and communicate to you the things that really came as a pleasant surprise to me, in my new adventures as a father.

That which mattered no longer matters as much

How it feels to be a new dad – Life Hacks – photo of skyscrapers and carsImagine a scene in which everything that matters to you is represented in physical form, and you’re looking at the scene through a camera. Skyscrapers representing your political beliefs. Maybe cars and motorbikes represent your inner adrenaline-junkie. Loved ones, friends, pets, memories, emotions, the works. This scene is your life, as you know it.

Now, imagine an object as been placed in the foreground of this scene. It’s too close to the camera to focus on; you need to change the focal length of the lense to see what it is.

As my baby girl entered this world, she was placed at the very front of my scene, and as I adjusted my focus, that which once seemed paramount suddenly became slightly fuzzy around the edges. Believe it or not, this ended up being a really positive thing. Before having the baby, I often found my time spread too thinly across a wide range of activities. With a baby, you have even less time available for such things, and so you will find yourself choosing your activities very carefully. In a bizarre and unexpected twist, I’m now more focussed than ever before, albeit on fewer things.

Nappies are your friend

How it feels to be a new dad – Life Hacks – photo of pile of nappies/diapersNon-parent friends and colleagues might have you believe that nappy changes require a fully compliant Type 1/Level A hazmat suit if you’re going to come away from it uncontaminated and unscarred. Sure, you hear stories of being attacked by torpedoes and water cannons, but for every nappy horror story, there’s a million untold nappy triumphs. And it all boils down to one simple reason: nappies are one of the few tools available to you for troubleshooting your baby.

The first dilemma new parents face when raising a baby is determining whether the baby is receiving enough milk. This isn’t so much of an issue if you’re bottle-feeding, but we chose to breastfeed ours. The only way to be sure the baby is getting enough is to count the number of wet and soiled nappies, and so when you do unveil such delights when unwrapping the nappy, it is quite honestly cause for celebration.

Admittedly, the nappy situation does deteriorate when the child moves on to solid food. I have yet to experience this, but I’m assured by my esteemed battle-worn parent friends that it’ll test the very limits of your resistance to offensive smells.

Your partner matters too

Lastly, we need to touch upon something that certainly took a while for me and my partner to figure out. It’s incredibly easy and natural in your new parenthood to suddenly shift the attention away from your relationship with your partner, and devote all your resources to the wellbeing of your baby. During and after birth, your world may feel as though it has been turned upside down; all of a sudden, it’s not about me anymore, and consequently, it’s not even about us.

But as the dust settles, it’s crucial that your partnership is given the attention it deserves, and in doing so you can genuinely reach new highs in connection, dedication and affection.

With a newborn baby, you’ll endure sleepless nights full of worries about the baby’s feeding and sleeping habits. You’ll come across their first ever cold, and worry about whether they can breathe. You’ll probably discover that searching the internet for answers leads to more stress and uncertainty than before you launched the web browser. As these anxieties take ahold of your waking hours, tensions can rise, and arguments are guaranteed to take place. But it’s very helpful to remind yourself that this stress is a result of our built-in survival mechanisms.

Communication is the number one factor that kept my and my partner’s relationship healthy.

If you can openly discuss, raise concerns, listen, and collaborate, then the task of raising your baby becomes a pleasure; a family adventure. Once you’ve reached this understanding, you stop fighting things like only getting 4 hours of sleep in a night. The acceptance of the task is what turns it into an adventure. And one hell of an adventure it is.

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