I was very happy to hear that some dear friends of mine are about to become fathers.
The nice part of me looks forward to them experiencing the all encompassing, ever increasing joy and love that only a parent knows. The grinch part of me takes pleasure in the knowledge that, as the old saying goes, shit’s about to get real for them.
Nothing can prepare you for being a parent, but hopefully some of these tips and little gems of knowledge I’ve picked up along the way will help.
13. When your child gets into the stage of continually questioning you after you have told them they can’t have something.
Try this trick from my brother-in-law Craig:
Ask them: ‘Did you just ask me a question?’
They will reply: ‘Yes.’
You say: ‘And what was my answer?’
They will reply: ‘No.’
You say: ‘And do I look like the kind of person that changes their mind?’
They will say: ‘No.’
You say: ‘Ok. Well you asked me a question and I answered it.’
9 out of 10 times they will walk off in baffled silence.
12. When your child is scared or upset in the middle of the night.
Resist the urge to yell at them or order them back to bed because you’re tired and this is your time. Instead lie with them and gently stroke their hair and just watch them. You will begin to understand how easily your love can take their worries away. This is one of the most precious things about being a father and the memory never leaves you.
11. If your child is sick with a cold or flu.
Rub some Vicks under the soles of their feet and a little on their chest before bed. That cold will be gone in a few days and they love it.
10. If you don’t know about tinnitus, then you soon will.
This little affliction arrives after you’ve been introduced to the unexpected, back raising, psychotic-episode-inducing experience of a toddlers scream. This affliction is especially prevalent in fathers with little girls. In your initial knee-jerk reaction, you will feel compelled to fly into a blind rage and reduce the setting around you to rubble. Resist it. And when you’re aware that you now have a constant background ringing in your ears, don’t worry, everyone has it at some level, yours is just now a little more pronounced. Don’t become obsessed with it lest it starts to consume you.
This will help:
9. Make your expectations realistic.
If you are like me, chances are that a person talking to you has approximately 8 seconds to get their message across before your thoughts flick back to naked fairies.
It’d be simply stupid to expect your 3 year old’s attention span to be any better.
3. Yes, you can reason with a toddler.
This probably sounds absurd but it’s not. You need to know your children and understand what makes them tick. That means observing them, taking interest in them and getting to know their personality.
Once you understand who they are (taking into account aforementioned attention span), you’ll be better equipped to navigate them in a mutually beneficial direction for the both of you. Most of the time.
If that doesn’t work – just ask them to do the opposite of what you want them to do.
7. Dealing with tantrums is as easy as steppy, steppy, steppy.
My cousin Dean taught me this one. When your child is writhing on the floor having a tantrum similar to a goblin coated in pixie dust, walk strait up towards them so that they can see you and then take a big step directly over them. Continue to walk away, preferably into another room. It won’t work immediately but it does eventually, after they’ve learned that their actions aren’t having the intended effect.
6. Tangled is way better than Frozen.
Yeah, Frozen’s pretty decent and it’s set all kind of records. I’ve seen it close to 800 billion times and still don’t hate it. But Tangled is hilarious, has better characters, the songs are more catchy, and if Sven (the reindeer from Frozen) took on Maximus (Tangled’s horse) in a fight. Maximus would make Sven his bitch every time.
5. Harry Potter 1 is still not appropriate for toddlers.
This is a rookie error that seems like a good idea at the time. Yet, as you scramble for the eject button upon noticing your little pumpkin’s eyes widening in horror at that screwed up, tattered, black hooded cloak, floating in the dark forest, you’ll realise you’ve made a huge mistake.
4. Learn from your mistakes.
If, after you’ve realise that Harry Potter was a horrific choice, you decide to help them forget the experience by chucking on Box Trolls, chances are that you’re a frigging idiot.
In all seriousness though, it sounds like a cliché but you will make mistakes and when you make them with your children, it really hurts. You’re going to have to get used to it though because no one is the perfect parent. Don’t beat yourself up about them, learn from them. It sounds pretty stock standard but it’s much easier said than done and these days with the hectic lives that wear us down, you can fall for the quick, easy fixes that are no good for you or your child in the long run.
3. Don’t order or demand, demonstrate.
Another one from my cousin. But this is an absolute pearl of wisdom.
Children don’t respond well to orders. In fact it is in their very fabric to push the boundaries and find out what they are able to get away with. That means rebelling. Still, children are eager to learn and they generally do that by copying their role models. If you wan’t them to do something, show them how it’s done, subtly. Today my youngest was in the pool, she is still learning to swim. After trying continually to get her to kick her legs I gave up and did some kicking around on my own. A minute later she cruised straight past me, underwater, kicking and swimming all by herself.
Beware of how this works in reverse however. The other day I walked past my study and my oldest was unleashing profanities while sitting on my chair and fiddling with the mouse on my lap top. When I enquired as to what was going on with her, she told me she was working.
2. Don’t be envious of other parents who seem to have the perfect child.
Chances are they are a complete little turd at home just like yours is.
Children are generally well behaved when they are out of their comfort zone and that’s usually when they aren’t attached to you. If they are little turds at home, it’s probably because of how much they love you and the freedom they feel in your presence. That means you are probably doing a decent job. If they cower in your presence and are too scared to be a child. That’s on you and you’re a shit parent.
1. Your babies don’t care about what you buy them. All they care about is where you are.
Do I really need to explain this one?
Go get ’em boys!