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Fatherhood and Self Improvement: The Dad List
First Time Father
I'm about to have my first child enter the world. Really quite soon actually. I'm not stressed, I'm not scared, honestly I'm excited. I've been preparing for fatherhood for months.
When my wife and I first found out we were going to have a child we were weary. The first 10 weeks is a troubling time. If something is going to go wrong it's likely to happen during that time. If you're just entering into this situation you may not know this but most Doctors recommend you don't tell anyone until you the the woman is 10-12 weeks pregnant. But anyway that's the scary stuff.
Once we hit that 10 week mark it all became a whole lot more real. I decided if I was going to be a father I needed to be someone my child could look up to. This lead me to a broad spectrum of self improvement. Really I wanted to just be the best version of me. Every few weeks I'd had something to what I'm now calling my "Dad List". Basically this is all the ways I altered my life to prepare myself for fatherhood. I hope find some of this useful.
Post Baby: Most of these have stuck. I'm still a better person and finding new ways to improve.
Let's See Who's Ready
Are You Ready For Fatherhood?
Fast Food had to Go!
1. Cleaning up the eating habits
I had a horrible habit that I'm sure a few other men out there have as well. I work nights and often times this means eating on the road. At least twice a week I was hitting up fast food joints. My favorite was getting 2 Mcdoubles and 2 Jr Chickens from McDonalds. Sweet lord this liite guys are good and so cheap to. I realized though I really shouldn't be eating much of that junk though. I guess I always knew before but the prospect of fatherhood made me look at things to through a new lens.
"Would I want my child to eat this?"
On the worst days I would get off work and drive 5 minutes in the opposite direction to get my burgers before going home. Now I keep snacks on me or just wait until I can cook something up.
If not for your health do this for the money you will save.
Typical Saturday Pre-Fatherhood
2. Beer, Wine and Gin
I've never been an alcoholic. I enjoy the odd beer but it's never been part of my daily routine. So dropping alcohol wasn't hard for me. Even better since my wife wasn't drinking we just stopped keeping it in the house. To be fair I still drink when I go out. I'm not trying to be a saint. A tall dark pint with dinner or a G&T with friends when I go out is still a must. If anything maybe I appreciate alcohol more.
A few weeks ago I met up with an old friend. We ate pizza,we drank more than we should have and then we drank some more. All of this with video games and funny movies. I had one more immature night of over indulgence. I'd highly suggest it.
Post Baby: Beer is back in the house but I never drink more than one so I can be free if I'm needed.
Snowed in at the Office
3. I pushed myself at Work
I'd like to think I'm good at my job but we can all get to comfortable over time. I think that's what happened to me. I had been in the same position for over a year and I had stopped innovating. I took a hard look at my job and I found there was quite a few things I could be doing better. For me this was checking email during off hours to respond to clients faster and keeping better notes. I wanted to be better at my job. Not so much for raises or accolades (although that's nice too). Mostly I wanted to feel pride in what I do.
I want my child to see Dad going to work and think it's a healthy part of life. I'm not a child rearing expert but for me it seems like if a have a negative relationship with what I do for a living my kids going to pick up on that. Work is going to seem like a drag to them before they ever give it a chance.
Here's an awkward but frank one. Becoming a father changed the way I looked at pornography. There's good healthy porn and then there's the other stuff. I took a critical look and trimmed some of my viewing options. I've never been the type to really sit down and watch a porno but certain things caught my eye. Without getting to weird about this I'm going to prompt people to take a look at their interests, ask yourself...
"Is this healthy?" and "Does it represent real life?"
Nothing wrong with fantasy as long as it's a positive one. I'll leave it at that.
Great art on this miniseries
For me this was about focusing on a few hobbies instead of a lot. I could barely manage all the distractions I had. Being a father means even less time for me. I decided to narrow it down to just a few. For me that's collecting comic books, reading fantasy and sci-fi (R.A. Salvatore/Orson Scott Card) and playing a League of Legends with friends. I had to drop stuff like casual console gaming, amateur photography, making youtube videos and seeing all movies in theatre.
I had to strike a balance. Collecting comics is fulfilling and I can make a bit of money off of it. Maybe even something to pass on to my child one day. League of Legends while being a sort of immature allows me to keep in contact with old friends who live all over. It's become an unofficial hang out.
Timmies Dark Roast
6. I went black
This one wasn't that hard for me. I've gone back and forth over the years but I finally decided to switch to black coffee. I still have cream in sugar in the odd early morning coffee but the rest of the time I'm just taking it black. It's a healthy choice but it comes in small increments. I've heard of people losing weight but that wasn't the case for me. I took my coffee with one sugar and one cream so it's not a big change. If you can't do black then try either cream or sugar. Or maybe just half of each.
*Starbucks doesn't count, I've I'm paying $5 I'm gonna get what I want.
When my wife first got pregnant she started taking prenatal vitamins but they made her pretty sick. So our midwife suggested a multi-vitamin and an additional iron supplement. Since we had them in the house I started taking the multi and maybe its all in my head but over all I feel a slight improvement. Biggest noticeable upgrades were to my energy and immune system. I've barely been sick throughout the pregnancy and when I have it's gone away quick.
I used to think it was something for old but it's working for me.
8. Hobbies That Can Help
I still spend my time on some pretty immature and wasteful things but I've tried to steer myself towards hobbies that are useful. Anything that makes money in general is good. Getting in shape is another good one. For me it's been writing. Some of it's commercial some of it's fiction but it's developing a skill I will always need.