Hello fellow dads! I thought I’d make a page where I gathered some of the most helpful tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the past few years on my journey as a father. Check back regularly, as I will undoubtedly be revisting this topic as I learn more about how to dad!
This How to dad tip is a game changer. The other day, while waiting for my wife at the eye doctor’s office, I picked up my younger son’s car-seat with him in it. A woman who was sitting nearby said, “Wow, I wish I had known how to do that when mine were little. That looks way easier!” What, you may be wondering, is this method of picking up, holding, and carrying a car seat that makes such a difference? It’s a very simple trick that’ll save you a lot of swearing (under your breath, of course), and a lot of tired arms. First, place the car-seat with the child facing your back. Then, stand next to it, bend at the knee, and put your arm around and down the handle, placing your hand against the joint of the handle and the car-seat itself. Finally, stand up. The weight of the car-seat now acts in such a way as to hold itself up against your arm, rather than just being down force that you have to muscle through.
Let’s be honest: even Superman had to put Lois down after he was done saving the day. Having a safe place to put your child down is a requirement. This how to dad tip will spare you the screaming, crying, and other sounds of protest that children often make when you need to put them down and walk away for a minute. You’re not going to want to put your child into his or her crib and walk away every time you need both of your arms. Additionally, unless you want to have problems when it comes to getting your child to sleep on their own, I wouldn’t advise you to associate anything with the crib that may be perceived by your baby to be unpleasant.
So, what’s a dad to do? Enter the boppy. This little miracle is a U-shaped pillow that mom may already be using if breast feeding. She will most likely sit with the pillow around her waist while feeding your child, but, that’s not all this little stuffed miracle is good for. You can also feed baby this way, too using a bottle (which I highly recommend, as feeding times are excellent bonding opportunities).
Furthermore, you can use the boppy as a stepping stone to tummy time. After your baby is fed, and has had a nap recently, you can lay them down on their stomach, with their legs at the opening and their head at the bottom of the “U”. This will assist them in gaining the arm and back strength required to hold that noggin up and look around!
They also provide a safe place to set baby down without fear of him or her rolling over (never leave your child unattended on a couch, chair, or anything else, as accidents only take seconds to occur; the safest place to set your child down is the floor). Below you can see my youngest sleeping soundly in the boppy. A safe baby is a happy baby!
If I had a dollar for every time I felt unprepared or under prepared for the day with my kids, I wouldn’t need to work for the next year or two. Setting yourself up for success is critical to having a great day with your kids. This means getting enough sleep (something that I need to do more of), having the next bag of mother’s milk warmed up before your little one begins showing signs of hunger, having a well stocked changing station, etc. When you’re playing “catch-up”, you’re not in the best position to be present, in the moment, where children live. Have you ever seen a child under the age of seven worry about tomorrow? Me either.
Kids live in the now (especially before the age of two). That’s why a baby with gas pains screams as if they’re dying; to them, the pain will never end. All they know is that it hurts right now. No amount of cooing, cuddling, or soothing singing is going to help until the pain ends. This is why so much about being a good dad is what you do when you’re not with your kids (i.e. when they’re asleep). Next time both of your kids are down for a nap (which can seem in and of itself like a natural miracle on par with a total solar eclipse), take this opportunity to think ahead, and prepare!
Preparing implies a little bit of planning. Just know that the old adage “Man plans, God laughs” applies universally. Have a plan, but remain flexible when it doesn’t go accordingly. No one likes a grumpy dad!
This is probably the most rewarding aspect of fatherhood to me, as it incorporates all aspects of life into the experience: communication, chores, responsibilities, fun, and work are all included here. For example, when I need a hand with my younger boy, I can ask his older brother to help me out and hold the bottle for a minute while I go defrost more milk. This teaches TJ, our older son, several things, such as how long “a minute” is, the responsibility of making sure that Rowan is being fed for that time period (mindfulness and attention span), the importance of teamwork, as well as having the effect of bonding him with his little brother.
Another activity I enjoy doing with my kids is using them as weights to work out with. Our older son is almost 40 lbs now, which is more than enough to curl, shoulder press, and use to increase the difficulty of squats. TJ loves working out with me, and I get the benefit of getting rid of my dad bod!
Picking up your kid in a car-seat, and holding them or walking with them for long periods of time isn’t always easy, but it can be much easier if you do it correctly.
Get a Boppy (or use the one you already have). They are useful for more than just feeding your child. From progressing to unassisted tummy time to a safe place for your baby to have a nap, a boppy is a sound investment!
Be prepared, as much as possible. This will free up more of your time to enjoy the present moment with your little one(s).
Include your child(ren) in your day! This not only makes your job as a father easier, but also provides endless opportunities for them to to grow, learn, and mature. And, you may even get a workout partner!
No one is born knowing how to dad; it’s a learned skill. What are some of the tips and tricks you’ve found to be most helpful? What was the biggest game changer for you? Feel free to share them in the comments section below!
Proud Mr. Mom