A friend of mine has just found out he’s going to be a dad for the first time. This is tremendous news, not least because it’ll finally wipe that smug, well-rested look off his face and he will have to eat his words about how having kids doesn’t need to change anything.
Yeah, we’ve all got that one mate who thinks life will be the same breezy street with kids as it is without. But seeing as it’s going to be a long nine months before I can collect on that one, in the meantime I’m trying to give him some advice. He’s not listening to it of course. None of us fellas wants to admit that having kids knocks your old life for six.
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We expect a decent night out or, more importantly, a decent night’s sleep to become critically endangered, but how many of us realised that our very nature would change? The words we use, the jokes we make, our fundamental views on education or eating fruit every day. All of it changes. I’m forever editing what I want to say into a palatable family version. It’s exhausting. I wish I’d realised sooner and spent the nine months practising the PG version of me.
But don’t make the same mistakes I did. Here are some of the things you might want to consider if you’re about to become a dad.
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Firstly, your sense of humour is going to need an overhaul and you’ll need to practise not saying whatever expletive-laden filth you normally find funny in front of expectant partners and other parents. It doesn’t even have to be filthy. A casual comment can land you in equally hot water, as I found out with these unappreciated gems:
“I see that the number of people having twins is going up. They reckon it’s because more women are having babies when they’re older, so we dodged a bullet on that one.”
“Did you know the average weight of a baby born in the UK is 7.7lb? I reckon you’ll need a caesarean, you complained for three days after you had that big poo when we were in Greece.”
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The next area you’re going to want to look at is social media. Mum-to-be may not see the funny side of you posting pictures of her with her head in the toilet every morning. If you want to celebrate your child’s creation and imminent birth, do it the right way.
A growing trend is the arty baby bump photoshoot. You don’t have to shell out for a pro, just run a warm bath and add a dash of milk to turn the water white and cover Mum’s modesty. Sprinkle a few flowers on the water, light some candles and you can photograph your partner and her bump. Take a few shots from a few different angles and use any photo-editing software to create an image you’re both happy with. Now you can print a canvas for your wall or splash it all over social media.
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Pay attention to the background, though. Always flush and ensure the Just For Men is out of shot. And don’t try to recreate the photo yourself – Mum looks radiant and beautiful in a milk bath, you don’t. No one wants to see a smiling fat lad naked in a bath of something white.
Now, not to go all Baz Luhrmann, but the next one is important. Dance. Dancing For Birth classes are a great, fun way for expectant mums to prepare themselves for birth, helping them to stay flexible and connect with other mums-to-be. As well as being physically beneficial, these classes can be a wonderful way for mums to feel like they are still in control of their bodies. While you know she’s looking great, Mum may feel the opposite.
If classes don’t do it for you, put on her favourite tunes and have a go at home. One of the greatest joys of fatherhood is dancing with your child. It’s almost a requirement to be a terrible dancer so those awkward shapes are about to pay off. Practise your dad-dancing every chance you get, remembering to remove the twerking from your routine. No child ever needs to see that.
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Finally, don’t skimp on the gifts. Pregnancy is a beautiful, natural process but even if Mum-to-be is lucky enough to dodge the endless number of pregnancy-related conditions, it is still hard going. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy just because she makes it look so. You couldn’t do it. Nine months of weight gain, mood swings, hormone levels going mental, tests, measurements and people poking about in places that aren’t usually public access – oh, and that person growing inside you – if that was me, I’d be demanding gifts every day.
Show your love and appreciation for the amazing miracle she is performing for around 6,500 hours straight. Prince William bought Kate jewellery after the birth of George and Charlotte, a so-called “push present” but why wait? Buy her something now. Just make it appropriate (see humour rules above).
So if you were thinking of fishing out your old two-man tent from your dad’s garage and presenting it to her as a pregnancy dress, well, you may just end up sleeping in it.