It’s Father’s Day. Here’s the benefit of my very limited wisdom from a heterosexual point of view.
The image above was taken at 5:07am. I’ve duplicated it over and over and over again for reasons which will become apparent around point 19 below….
1. Switch to hard liquor (vodka/gin martini)
Your former drinking partner, and now new mum or mum-to-be can’t drink. Don’t rub the cruel fact that you can still scale Bukowskian levels of swillocracy by constructing a glass Everest from empty booze bottles, climbing it, and refusing to come down. Instead, each day, make and drink one extraordinarily strong martini. It’s cheaper, less conspicuous and will keep you on an even keel when the seas get rough.
2. Seriously consider sobriety.
It’s easier all round. Not all of us are strong though.
3. Get a bike. Put a bike seat for your kid on it.
Put this seat on the front. Get some pannier bags for food and essentials. Now go riding and singing to each other out into the world. Explore together like some adorable cuteness flotilla. Bike riding with the kids has been one of the great pleasures of my life. I can still see my daughter’s little hands in her red mittens as we stop to smell flowers and wave to marmalade cats on our way around Marrickville. Email me for advice on what seat to get.
4. Come home from work on time.
Spend a full day with the kid and you’ll understand that the sound of your key turning in the door can be the equivalent of Aretha Franklin, backed by a gospel choir singing, “Some Day We’ll All Be Free”. Lord have mercy.
5. Don’t be Don Draper.
Avoid gender essentialism – it’s boring. Be real, broken and complex people. Don’t fall for that machismo bullshit. People will think you’re more of a man if you can clean a nappy with the efficiency of a formula 1 pit crew, cook a meal in 15 minutes when there’s apparently nothing in the fridge, soothe a toddler to sleep at 3am and go without sleep or sex for long periods of time. That James Bond stuff is easy.
6. Don’t resist alternative medicine or obtuse dietary obsessions.
It’s the price of doing business. I found myself, on a balcony just outside of Woy Woy (The Venice of Australia!) holding some kind of huge burning Chinese joint to my wife’s big toes in an attempt to get the baby to come into a better birthing position. Did it work? Who the hell knows or cares! That said, Pete Evans is absolutely full of it.
7. Get a good cordless electric drill with an allen key attachment.
You’re going to need to change some stuff around the house. You’re probably going to have to visit IKEA and put some of that stuff together. When you do, make sure you build that DOMBÅS in the room it’s going to stay in…dumb ass. Once you’ve constructed it, it won’t fit through the door.
8. Understand the nesting cycle. Don’t fight it. It won’t last forever.
See point 7.
9. Get some earplugs.
A baby’s scream is sonic torture. It has evolved to pinpoint the exact frequency that drills into your brain so it can’t be ignored. You actually live in the claustrophobic horror of a long haul flight from Sydney to London seated next to screaming baby. You have eyelids, put in some earlids.
10. Beware the Tsunami Effect!
Nail down anything in your life you really care about before the baby arrives. You can’t save everything from the rising tide, but you can preserve some of your former life. That said, it’s best to accept your old life is gone forever.
11. Make sure you encourage your partner to get time on her own away from you and El Bambino.
I found it helped to actively book it in.
12. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You’re in for the long run now.
13. Choose and time your battles carefully.
Something about your relationship is gnawing away at you and won’t go away? Want to unleash fury? Breathe. Choose the timing and place to address issues and you’ll be more likely to achieve a good outcome for both of you. Wait till you’re both relaxed, outside the house and have time to talk. Now raise the issue thoughtfully and calmly.
14. She’s right there in front of you.
Love and care for your partner through the blissful peaceful valleys and stormy peaks of her pregnancy. Remember the person you fell in love with? She’s right there in front of you and you’re both evolving. Give in to the passage of time.
15. Work hard.
Use all those little splinters of time to work. Get used to grabbing work and rest wherever and whenever you can.
16. No one likes commentary from the cheap seats.
If you’re not prepared to get off your arse, gently take over and do whatever needs doing with the house/kids/garbage bins, don’t offer advice on your partner’s parenting or household techniques.
17. Book ahead. You can’t tap in from the fairway.
Want a night out to play music or catch up with a friend? Book ahead. Don’t try and sink an impossible putt from the fairway. Take your time, hit long considered approach shots, tap in for a birdie and wave to the crowd. Please forgive the golf analogy and blame Rob Carlton who shared this deep wisdom with me.
18. Don’t waste money on the burgeoning ‘get your baby to sleep’ industry.
Your baby will either sleep well or he/she won’t. In my experience, aside from sticking to a routine, there’s very little you can do about this hard fact. Try not to react violently to other new parents with kids that sleep for 23 hours every day. If you’re reading this, you know who you are. If you’re in Australia, go to Tresillian.
Ps. The sound of clothes drying in a tumbler is wonderful. My babies liked it. It has white noise and variation so is great for sleeping. Stream 9 hours of it via youtube or record your dryer with an iPhone or equiv and hey presto – sleep magic! Or not.
19. Sleep is for the weak.
20. It’s not a competition.
You’re both tired and worn out. But she’s probably more tired. Don’t try and compete for who’s got it harder. No one wins.
21. Empathy goes a long way.
She’s got it tough. Her body was hijacked by an alien for 9 months and when the alien emerged, it attached itself to her breasts with a relentless fury. As much as you would like to do the same, stop for a moment and think about how full on that must be. When attempting to empathise with your partner, make sure though that you don’t personalise her struggle. So, it’s really hard, not, “she’s/you’re finding it really hard.” It’s difficult, but she’s amazing. Get it?
22. Tell her she’s amazing.
She is, or at least she will be more amazing if you tell her, not less.
Spend lots of time in the water with your kids. It’s just the best. Diving, throwing, catching and cuddling with your kids in the water is so wonderfully intimate, playful and fun.
24. Ignore all parenting advice