How to dad, part I: Getting through the first year
So I am a dad now for 19 months. More importantly, I have finally come to grips with being a dad. While having twins is definitely a challenge of its own, I am sure that most of what I learned applies also to having "only" one child. So here is a quick destillate:
- Bring as much stability into your life as possible. This is not the time to start freelancing. It is not even the time to start a new job. It is not the time to go to many usergroups. Or to start a user group. You can do all of that later. Focus on being Dad.
- Tell your woman every day how much you love her and what a great mom she is.
- Get through the first year. The first 12 to 18 months are the hardest. As a father you simply don't have the same connection to the kid like Mom does. She gave birth, remeber? You didn't. You are going through a similar changing of hormones as she though, just much slower, and same as her you are not getting it while it's happening (you can't). Additionally, to be honest, there is not that much for you to do with your kid in the first year from a what-dads-enjoy point of view. And no, it is not mean to say that.
- The real fun starts as soon as they start walking around and speaking their first couple words. Wait for it. You have no friggin idea how cool things get!
- "Sunset" and leave all the projects. You don't have time to produce deliverables or attend "orga meetings" in bars. You will need the little bit of spare time to relax. It's no problem though, you can re-join or re-animate everything later. Good projects to have are those where you can independently do things whenever you find a minute, which do not need a special setup and where nobody else is waiting or depending on anything by you. Maybe go through your repositories and write some Readmes? Or get a new sketchbook and carry it around at all times.
- If you are still reading paper books – get a Kindle. There will be lots of stuff to schlepp around already.
- Don't get into arguments about shared things. If you think you need a specifically equipped diaper bag, get your own one.
- Keep your own space at home, ideally one where you can also lie down and stretch out. It's so important to have your own cave where you can be alone for a couple minutes or hours sometimes.
- Start meditating, doing yoga, taking walks, reading the bible or whatever else calms you the fuck down! Things can get frustrating. You will get angry. You will cry. You need something to keep your mind calm and relaxed.
- Start a routine. Do it. Every. Fucking. Day.
- Read about sex after kids. You're not the first person in that situation. More importantly you're not alone in that situation (which is easy to forget).
- Start stocking the most important supplies. We're not used to doing that anymore because shops are all around us and open 24 hours. But you do not want to run out of milk powder or coffee on Sunday morning, do you? Golden rule: always have one spare additionally to the one in use. Have another one of the most important ones. Saved my ass dozens of times. (Have I mentioned yet the importance of always having coffee and milk powder?)
- Make a (private!) log/journal about the kids and try to keep ONE fond memory each day. Especially collect their firsts. This is great to go into your routine btw. I can definitely recommend a plain text file in Dropbox over any specialized app. You can always share stuff along from the text file into things like Day One or the like.
- Treat your photos like an inbox. Go through them every day, keep only the one good shot of every motive. Flag or label them or whatever else you. Try to keep ONE fond photo every day. Also great for the routine of course.
- Find a way to share photos and video snippets with your parents, aunts, grandparents, siblings, etc. They want new photos every day. Whatsapp, Dropbox, mailing list whatever.
- Have patience with your wife and with yourself. You're both new to this and it's a hard thing to tackle. It will complete your life in a way nothing else can – if you give it some time.
The first year is hard and people without kids simply cannot help you. If you're going through a rough time and feel like you have nobody to talk to, you're welcome to drop me a line on twitter and we will find a time to chat!
And finally, if you think I missed sopmething, please do a quick post somewhere and I will happily link to it here...
All the best to you and your family! You rock!