My first year of fatherhood: Oh the things I’ve learned…

Dad baby playing guitar

At first thought, it’s flown by: a jumble of missed sleep, dropped food, tears, laundry and laughter.

He’s lived 100% of his life under the watchful gaze of his mother and myself yet only features in but a fraction of ours. We could be forgiven for feeling like it was only yesterday that he came into this world. In reality, it was a year ago.

I found the best way to appreciate the months is to go back through all my photos. All 4139 of them (not including the 64gb iPhone my wife has filled).

The first picture was taken mere moments after his birth, laying on his mother’s chest with a head full of vernix, eyes tightly shut, his tiny hand with a firm grip on his mum’s finger.

The last photo he’s crawling on the turf at a Mt Hawthorn playground wearing a superhero bib eating what appears to be dirt with one hand.

At least I hope it’s dirt.

Between those two photos I couldn’t help but learn something. These are the interesting bits:

1. You don’t have one kid, you have 7

Grumpy (screaming), Happy (smiles, screaming), Sleepy (eye rubs, screaming), Dopey (he fell again, screaming), Bashful (sooking for his mum, screaming), Sneezy (sick or wounded, screaming), Doc (their unique moments, probably screaming). Collect them all and learn to play with each one.

2. Being cheap can hurt you

Of all the things I skimped on, I most regret not getting a baby car capsule. For about $60 for 3 months you can hire one and avoid being trapped in a car for an hour with a sleeping baby. And they always fall asleep as soon as you roll up… after crying the whole way there. The capsule can be plugged into both a car or pram without disturbing young Sir.

You might be surprised how much you can save by hiring almost everything you need or don’t know that you need.

3. Who’s raising who?

We like to think we’re moulding our children into who they will become but they also shape us into who we need to be.

I used to go to the gym when I was ready, eat when I was hungry, play computer games until my eyes fell out and go to bed somewhere between midnight and the 83rd YouTube video of the night.

Now the Playstation is the dustiest thing in the house, I’m usually in bed by 10, each day has structure and anything noteworthy is in the shared calendar (not the Firefighter’s Calendar).

The little guy has also taught us how to budget. Going to one income with no end in sight will seriously affect your ability to spend. Seriously. Unless you’ve been saving for months to prepare or the main bread winner is winning some serious bread, get your head in the game now.

Heck, we even had to stop buying parmesan cheese for a while – barbaric!

Go to your bank feed right now and remove everything that’s not a government payment, insurance, mortgage/rent, services bill or has the word “Coles” or “Woolworths” in it. The closer, the better. That’s your budget.

4. Get good at cancelling on people

It’s not your fault. Sometimes they just won’t sleep. Cue crash and burn at the worst time. If you try to do everything other people want you to do baby suffers, mum suffers, then you suffer. Chaos is a ladder (RIP Littlefinger).

5. Rediscover delights in plain sight

If I’m honest, looking after a baby is mostly boring. You’re mainly confined to the same 100 square metres every day. Try to get on board with their enthusiasm for the simple things; a cup, the grass, the vacuum. Being with them as they play with these items for the very first time can never be repeated.

The moment you realise that the human being you created is flying through space on this rock we call Earth and is picking at bark from a tree planted long ago is mind blowing. When was the last time you really thought about the process something took to be with you today? If it’s interesting for them it can be interesting for you with the right mindset.

6. The Boss works all hours

Welcome to the 24 hour economy. You need to be sharp and prepared lest you suffer his wrath. It doesn’t matter that it’s 3am, get the man some milk! Preparing 8-12 hours in advance will take a lot of the stress away. Get all the morning clothes, food, milk, etc. ready before you go to bed and you hit the ground running. Have at least two of everything ready.

As ex-Navy Seal Commander, Jocko Willink says, “Two is one and one is none”. Contingency, people!

7. Maintain some hobbies

I used to pretend having a baby wouldn’t change the way I lived. My attitude towards life hasn’t but my ability to live it definitely took a beating.

Setting time aside to exercise, do some cooking and enjoy my handcrafted filter coffee maintained my sanity and reminded me that everything is temporary. Time spent doing these things is usually more treasured when scarce.

RELATED: Being a good dad also means spending time AWAY from your family

8. You get accustomed to the gross

I was surprised at my tolerance to being dipped in vomit, poo, and wee. I guess when it’s your own son those things just don’t seem to register? That shirt has dried banana on the sleeve and milk vomit on the collar – pretty much brand new then, right?

Sometimes wifey and I would celebrate a new record sized poo with a cheer and just laugh if a small nugget managed to fall onto the floor and roll away. Life is beautiful.

9. You’ll feel feels you’ve never feeled before

Any news or A Current Affair program that runs a “feel good” or “hard luck” story affects me now. I used to think I was a heartless b*stard but suddenly I feel more vulnerable…. that dog that just pulled a baby goat from a landslide or the terminally ill mum that got to dance with her son at his wedding…. I think I’ve got sand in my eye.

RELATED: 7 movies that will make you cry, now you’re a dad

10. Unsolicited advice? Roll with it….

Perfect the smile and nod. It’ll stop you wanting to uppercut the person after you’ve only had 3 hours’ sleep.

One year down and we’re all more in love than ever – even the dog has come around. But we’re just getting started…

Good luck everybody.

If you have a story you would like to share, shoot us an email and our editors will get back to you.

Get the best dad tips in your inbox

Ooops