Welcome to fatherhood! Whether you're a first time dad or a dad of multiple kids, you (and your partner) have probably noticed that when it comes to parenting there's a lot of information out there. It may even seem like there is way too much information--it can all be a bit overwhelming. Wouldn't it be nice if there was an instruction manual for becoming a dad? There are a lot of mom tips out there, but what about tips for dads? They're important too! Well don't you worry, this post has a list of dad tips from an actual dad (who has more than one kid) to help all you other dads out there. So join us as he shares what's worked for him and what he thinks can benefit you! So have no fear, the dad is here!
1. Every kid is different: Every baby is so unique. Remember there's no perfect way of parenting and that there's no one way to raise a child. That being said, try to not compare your child to someone else's. When it comes to milestones, know that each child takes the time they need, and when they are ready to reach that milestone, they will. Also ,you will find as you grow up in parenthood that whatever works for you and your family may not work for other families, and that is okay! There's no other child like yours--don't forget how special and remarkable they really are!
2. Be calm around your kids: Kids soak up emotions very easily. So next time your child is crying, know that changing your worried, stressed, or frustrated demeanor can really change how your child is feeling. We know that's easier said than done, but it can truly help! For example, if your child falls down and you're quick to freak out, they will see your reaction and react in a similar way. Always show them love, even if you feel like yelling. If you need to, take a breather and come back to them with love and understanding on their level.
3. Trust your gut: You know your child best. If someone is telling you otherwise but you know for certain what to do, remember that you are most likely in the right. Trust yourself and give yourself credit for how well you know your child. Also trust your partner's intuition. They also know your child so well (and they probably spend the most time with them, too), so trust what they say and encourage them to trust themselves too.
4. It's okay to find your own way: This one is particularly in regards to the way you do everyday things compared with your partner. If you have a way of soothing your child, for example, that is different than your partner's way, but it gets the job done, then go for it! Find your own spin on how to be a parent. While you should stick with certain routines your partner may have established or that your child specifically likes done (like reading a bedtime story), if you have a unique way of making it your own, then that's awesome!
5. Be on the same page as your partner: Show that you are on the same page as your partner. Presenting a united front lets your kids know that you're a team and that there is a set of boundaries that they are expected to follow--that there's no chance for a good cop/bad cop situation. Discuss these decisions with your partner beforehand so that you can both be on the same page and not disagree if in front of the kids, creating confusion.
6. Be an active parent: Know what's going on in your child's life. Know who their friends are and what they are watching on their device. Don't let them spend too much time on screens. Actually play with them--you don't have to actively play with them all day long, but spend some time with them doing something that they want to do when you get a change. Get on the floor with them, play pretend with them, play dress-up, or engage with them with their favorite sport or hobby. Listen to them and show that you actively care about what's going on in their lives and how they're feeling.
7. Encourage imagination: This goes with the one shared above. When your child is playing, really put yourself into the game or world they are in. It can be hard at times, but it shows them that you want to make an effort on joining them and what they're doing. Fan the flame of their imagination, because it truly is something important and magical for them.
8. It can and will get easier: Yes, you're probably finding this hard to believe right now because you may be going through some tough parenting stuff, but I promise you it will get easier! One day you will figure out the groove of things, and how to handle the kids. The first couple of months of having a new baby will be rough, but you will get to know your child and what works for them, and you will also become more confident in your role as a father.
9. Patience is key: Yep, we know it's easy to lose patience with our kids, but reacting in anger or frustration is not good for your child. Instead, simply take a breath, go on a walk, or just go into another room to regroup. You'll feel a lot better with a clearer and calmer mind. This will also teach your child how to handle their own frustrations and create a long-lasting, healthy relationship between you two.
10. Let them be themselves: It can be hard to let your child be an individual when you want them to be a certain way, but it's important to encourage them to shine their own light. Let them choose what sports they want to play, let them be silly or goofy or shy if that's their personality. While it's good to encourage them to grow and try new things, you need to respect their individuality because that will help them be confident in themselves now and into adulthood.
11. Take pictures of your partner and your kids: If your wife is like mine, then she loves taking photos of the kids and you. She will thank you immensely for taking photos of the kids, but especially ones of her with the kids. The whole family will love being able to look back at family memories you captured, and seeing both you and your wife! You might want to look up best shot angles to really impress everyone with your skills.
12. Share responsibilities with your partner: When it comes to household responsibilities, help each other out, work as a team, don't put too much responsibility on one person. Co-parenting is a powerful tool, and we aren't in the time where some tasks are "mom duties" or "dad duties". Get involved with everything and share the load.
13. Teach your child that that "No" means "No": It's great to let your kids have the freedom to choose what they want, but there should be limits. Not having boundaries creates problems with them not respecting you and can lead to behavior problems now and when they're older. But if it’s not good to always say “yes,” it’s also not good to tell your child “no” at first and then cave in when they throw a temper tantrum or beg and plead. Teach them that your “no” is firm, but only say “no” when you really feel that it’s a boundary you need to set.
14. Make Time for you and your spouse: When you have kids it is very easy to give all your attention and energy to them, so you need to be intentional about making time for your partner. Let them know that even if your life is crazy or busy, you can still make time to be together and go on date nights to nurture your relationship. Also know that your spouse will not forget about you! You and the baby are two different people in your partner’s life, and they love each of you!
15. It's okay if you don't know what to do: Everyone with kids was a new parent once and had to learn the ropes too. We are all still learning, even those of us with multiple kids. As long as you’re open about learning how to care for your baby instead of assuming you already know everything, you’ll be just fine, I promise!
16. Focusing on your baby and your career is possible: Balancing fatherhood and a career can be tough on a lot of new dads. You want to have a good career and take care of your family, but in doing so, feel like you will miss out on actually spending time with your children. If your employer is flexible, see if you can start work earlier or later in the day to spend more time with your child. It’s worth asking. Balancing a career and being there for your kids is something many people do, and it is possible!
17. Bonding with your baby is just as important for dads as for mothers: Babies have a close bond with their mothers. After all, they spent nine months in their mother’s womb. But that doesn’t mean they won’t also bond with their father. Don’t be afraid to put in the work to bond with your new baby. If your baby cries, don’t just hand them off to Mom. The more you comfort them, the more they will bond with you.
18. Cherish your time with them: The days may seem long but the years go by fast. It still surprises me every year when my kids turn a year older. They grow up so fast, and before you know it, your newborn who wants to be with you 24/7 will be a high schooler who prefers to hang out with friends more than you. The time you have with them is short and precious — make the most of it. Try to be present as much as possible while you’re with them as well.
7 More Quick Tips
Becoming and a father may sound overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be! Knowing what to expect will help you properly care for your kids and support your partner during the process. Remember to have fun, to trust yourself, and to enjoy the journey.
Fatherhood is wonderful, even with the gross blowouts, the stressful events, and the sleepless nights, but it's a life-changing, beautiful role that will leave you with a life of happiness, fulfillment, and a bigger amount of love for your little ones than you ever thought you could have!
Be sure to share this with a father-to-be or a dad you know! And drop a comment below with any other dad tips that have helped !