As I post this, we have celebrated our son Will’s first birthday. It’s been an interesting first year of his life, for all concerned, so I thought I’d invite Becky to write some of this post, and we’ll share some of the advice / comments / tips / “helpful” words we’ve road-tested in the last twelve months, and how they went down…
- “Sleep when he sleeps.” Becky says; Easy! We did this quite well I reckon. I remember going to church about 3 weeks after he was born, very pleased that we managed 5 hours of uninturruped sleep in the night. A friend looked at me pityingly and said “Oh how I remember those days!” I thought we had done rather well. 1 year on though, we get sad if we have to wake before 6:30, because he is such a good sleeper.
- “Going back to work is hard.” Very true. I had the mandatory 2 weeks of paternity leave off, and going back after those weeks was a horrible thing. Not only was my body clock out of whack from 14 days of patchy sleep, but I now had to go back to my pre-baby routine, leaving Becky on her own with Will. Soon enough though, this became easier, as both Becky and Will were able to cope without me, but occasionally it would still be a bind, especially if Will was playing up, or Becky wasn’t feeling too well. One year on, we’re nicely settled in a routine, though some changes had to be made when Will became mobile…
- “Don’t read any parenting books” Becky says; I disliked this piece of advice; 3 days into having a small baby, and being a good, law abiding citizen, I wanted to do what I’m told, so I tried to find someone who could tell me what to do. I read a lot of books, but only one satisfied my desire to do what I’m told. That’s right folks! I’m a Gina Ford Mum! I love her straight-forward, no nonsense style of… dictatorship! However, I do just take on some of her advice. I’m not a robot. My advice about books is to read a few, and see if any of them resonate with you, and if they help you, not judge you.
- “Keep a muslin handy.” An invaluble piece of advice. At first, I baulked at the idea of having random bits of cloth lying around the house, but when the bodily fluids start appearing, often at speed, a handy bit of muslin is a blessing. Better that than the t-shirt you’re wearing.
- “Do whatever works for you.” Becky says; As a law abiding citizen, I hate this piece of advice, but in parenting there really is no right or wrong way of doing things… but get back to me when William is 2 and I may have changed my mind!
- “Be there.” I don’t think anyone every said this to me, but I’m putting it out there for all the expectant and new fathers that might be reading this. Just be there for your wife and child. Even if being there means a 2am run to the 24-hour supermarket to get nappies or formula, or letting your wife lie in on a weekend even after you’ve had an exhausting week at work. Being there means that your child has two full-time parents, not a full-time mum and evening-and-weekend dad, and your wife has the supporting partner she deserves.
- “Enjoy him while he’s so small.” Becky says; Looking back I should have tried to enjoy the first few months more but parenting is such a shock to the system I was just getting to grips with how my life was no longer in order, and how I no longer had much control over my day, time, energy, sleep etc. I was also convinced that I was not going to enjoy having a ‘baby’ that I did not allow myself to enjoy the good moments when they came. This time last year, there were lots of tears, from all of us, and 12 months on there is more laughter by far. This is good.
- “Don’t be precious.” We have a lot of “stuff” about the house. Will gets into that stuff. Will gets other stuff all over that stuff. We’ve protected or moved the essential stuff, but the other stuff is just stuff. Don’t worry about it. Otherwise all your child will hear for the first years of his/her life will be “no”, and that’s not a great way to start…
- Finally, Becky says; As for tips, the extrovert I am would advocate the many many baby and toddler groups there are out there. I get out as much as I can with Will and I am conviced that he is a friendly outgoing sociable lad because of it. He loves to be with people and chats up any girl / mum that comes his way. Toddler groups were my lifesaver and I would strongly recommend you get out and about to keep you sane!
Well, that’s about it for now! Here’s hoping that some of these are of help to you. Feel free to add any tips you’ve picked up in the comments, and let us know how you’ve been getting on!