I’m six years into this rollercoaster ride and I’m still discovering new information every day. There’s not a book thick enough to tell you everything you need to know in advance and, even if there was, I wouldn’t have read it. I’m a dad. I don’t do instructions. Where’s the fun in that?
When you announce to the world that your first child is on the way, you receive the usual vague advice from other parents – ‘bank your sleep’, ‘it’s going to change your life’, and the like.
But you don’t find out about the real key lessons until the baby is here and you are suddenly left alone and trusted to keep another lifeform alive, like a high-stakes game of Tamagotchi. This is when you discover the truth about being a dad.
This Father’s Day, Dadsnet is partnering with Pampers to celebrate the important role that dads play. New research by Pampers reveals that nearly half of parents want media and society to be more encouraging of Dads and give them more credit.
Ok, so here’s what I’ve managed to glean so far that no-one told me about being a dad…
The Value of Spontaneity
Being spontaneous and having small children is the trickiest of all the tasks. However strict or otherwise their routine is, kids do have certain needs at certain times. You have to plan days out around naps, snacks and meals to ensure that you make the most of the time you have together. This is why, when opportunities to be spontaneous come along, you have to grab them with both hands and cherish them dearly.
A few months ago, our two were at my parents’ house for a couple of days. My wife and I were both working away at 10pm, as is the joy of self-employed life, when something suddenly dawned on me. We could feasibly take a break, nip to the pub for a swift one, and head back with no issues. There was no pre-booking of a babysitter, no rock-paper-scissors to decide who had to stay at home and sit by the baby monitor; we could go wherever we wanted and do as we liked.
The feeling of heading out for half an hour on a whim was thrilling. It was so novel, so out of the ordinary. It was a proper treat and certainly taught me to value spontaneity; something no one had mentioned previously.
Children Have the Best Memories
No one tells you that, when you have a child, you are essentially letting your own little fact-checker into the house. Who needs a smart speaker to keep a track of your important information when you have a child who never forgets anything ever?
My whole life is spent fobbing other adults off with vague promises of things that I say I will do, but hope that they will soon forget about so I don’t have to. In work (although never for anything I write for The Dadsnet, obviously) as well as in my personal life, I find that you can often kick any tiresome cans along the road by doing that. You cannot do that with children.
If you make an off-hand comment about ice cream, you will be hounded incessantly until you provide the required sweet treat. When you happen to mention that you might possibly, at some point, maybe take them to Alton Towers, you will be subjected to monthly progress requests until you follow through on your pledge.
You have to remember EVERYTHING that you say, because they will let you know as soon as you contradict yourself. In fact, here’s a conversation that happened in our house this week:
6-year-old: I can’t find my Hatchimal, we must have thrown her away.
Me: We wouldn’t do that, she cost a lot of money.
6: I thought I got her for Christmas.
Me: She cost SANTA a lot of money.
6: I thought Santa and the elves built the toys themselves.
How Easy We Have It
Some bits of parenting are hugely difficult, of course, but a lot are much easier than I thought they would be. It might say more about my previous choice of viewing than anything else, but the TV shows and films I remember watching referring to child rearing always made things like nappy changing look ludicrously complicated.
They harked back to the days of toweling nappies that you need a degree in origami to fold, where you would always prick your finger on the pin and which you needed to wash at approximately 1,500 degrees in order to get properly clean.
Give me a modern Pampers nappy with a couple of easy-to-attach sticky strips any day. Probably safer without a pin easily at hand for a child too.
How Much You Will Enjoy Kids’ TV
I feel sorry for non-parents because there is a chance they will never have heard of Hey Duggee, let alone watched what is one of the finest programmes on the telly in general. Not just for children. You can keep your Killing Eves and Tiger Kings, I’d rather binge on the adventures of the Squirrels with all its anarchy, humour and nods to classic telly, games and songs. Why did no one tell me how good kids’ programmes are before I became a dad?
I assumed children’s TV would be bland and dull, worthy and dry before I actually watched any of it. As it turns out, CBeebies is the home of innovative, engaging and joyful television, and it’s the perfect way to ease yourself into another ridiculously early morning.
Sarah and Duck has television’s greatest ever theme tune, Go Jetters is a whistle stop tour of all the places I’d like to visit when the kids are older and Gigglebiz genuinely makes me laugh from deep within my gut. That could be the sleep deprivation catching up with me, but I’m going to credit it to the doyen of children’s television – Justin Fletcher – on this occasion.
What have you only discovered since becoming a dad? Leave a message in the Comments below!
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