My advice to Dad’s of young kids
First of all, I recognize that you did not ask for any of this advice, so do with it as you please. But as a guy who has made his share of mistake, here are some things I think you need to know as you try to sort out the whole “being a Dad” thing.
- Have fun. – I know there is stress and I know you are exhausted and I know you have seen and wiped things in the last few weeks or months that you never thought you would see or wipe. But please don’t freak out over the small stuff.
- Buy a good heavy duty carpet cleaner. – If you haven’t needed one yet, you will. Buy a good one, because you will have stuff that looks like…never mind the details just trust me on this one.
- Tell your wife she’s awesome. – Every day. Lots of times every day. For two reasons: 1) she feels even worse than you do. No matter how tired you are she is more tired. I guarantee it. And 2)her body has been turned inside out and sideways over the past few months and no matter what she says, it is freaking her out a bit. So just tell her she’s awesome.
- Add “beautiful” to #3. – Same instructions, maybe more so.
- Write it down – Keep a journal or a notebook or whatever your system is to remember things. Because your child is going to do amazing things almost every day, and if you do not write them down you will forget them. These books will be a treasure to you and your children.
- Whenever you’re in doubt trust your instincts. – You need to remember that you were wired to do this. It may be deep down inside of you, like six miles below the surface inside of you, but you do have what you need. Sometimes you just need to do some deepwater dives in your soul to find your inner-Daddy.
- When you’re still in doubt after trying to trust your instincts, trust your wife’s instincts. – She has the same fears you do, but she was also wired for this job. And unlike you (and me and most guys) she has not buried her feelings under slag heaps of manliness. Trust her. And encourage her to trust herself.
- Make lots of funny faces. – Babies and toddlers and everyone really loves a funny face.
- Walk away from the crying. – Sometimes you just have to leave a baby or little one in their room and let them cry. It’s hard, I know. I spent parts of lots of nights sobbing outside our little ones’ rooms. (And here’s even more encouragement, walk away while you can. Because when they get older, they follow you while they’re crying. And when they get even older, they walk away while they are crying, and go behind the doors you tried to keep them behind when they were younger.)
- Don’t worry about what they house looks like. – If there is stuff everywhere, so what. I promise I will not say a word no matter what I step in. (But do see note above about a carpet cleaner.) I guarantee your kids will not remember if the house was clean when they were little, but they will remember if you built a fort in the den.
- Same thing applies to your car and your yard. – Don’t lose sight of what is important.
- Go on vacation. – As much as you can. Memories are currency with your kids. Build up a bank full of memories, not just a bank full of well…bank. This one was hard for me early on, because I am cheap.
- Pray for your kids. – I found that when I was taking laps at night with a fussy baby was a great time to pray. (Mostly because it kept me from screaming…)
- Tell them you love them. – All the time. Every day. Because they need to know that you love them. Actions are not enough in this area.
- It’s really hard to break a child. – I know it is terrifying with a little one. Or even a little bigger one. You don’t know where to hold them, or how tight to hold them because sometimes if you squeeze too hard, nasty stuff starts coming out one end or another. Let me share a little secret with you. They are pretty well engineered, resilient, and mostly waterproof.
- Have fun. – I know I said it before, but you cannot have enough fun. Laughter fixes almost everything.
Hope this helps. You can do it. I did. And look at me…