Survival Guide For New Dads: What To Expect
Ok, so you've had a baby and..... you're clueless. Don't worry, no one is ever ready for a birth. It's not possible. the one thing that you can expect as a new father is the unexpected. If I had taken the time to read a firsthand review of what I should get ready for as a dad, I can tell you that I'd be missing a lot less sleeves on my shirts from cleaning up "messes" and could have avoided quite a few awkward situations while out in public. Not to worry, I am going to do my best to help you to get ready for, well, everything.
Step One: The Man Purse
Some call it a "bag", others an "urban travel case." Dudes, it's a man-purse. Get over it. What you need to know it what it should contain in order to get you through most disastrous situations without calling out for help from a stranger. No one likes to be used as a random life-line when there's someone else's baby feces or vomit involved. The basics that anyone needs to survive include food and clothing. As a safe bet, I usually pack one change of clothing for each store I plan on visiting once I leave the house. That will at least give you enough time to make it home if you're child is really needing to be at home for you to get them there. I you live in a warm climate that often rains (Florida) be sure to bring an umbrella in your car wherever you go and always have sunscreen available for prolonged car rides and outdoor activities. children's skin is EXTREMELY fragile and doesn't do well in direct contact with the elements. If you're in a colder climate, make sure to pack extra clothing to cover the child's head, feet and hands. Their extremities become very cold when exposed to cool air. Blankets are always nice as well to keep from getting beaten by the wind. Whatever they normally would eat at home in that time span, bring; then add three more servings. You never know when you'll have a random tire blow out on the side of the road, get stuck at a family members house talking about life's most pressing issues or be stuck in traffic on the road for much longer than expected. You also have to take into effect that your child will be exposed to the elements and probably not be sleeping as much while you're out. That means more time spent eating. If they are old enough, pack some crackers that they can keep themselves occupied with while shopping or driving by gumming them to oblivion.
Ok, so we have the essentials to live, but what about keeping your baby happy? it's tough to concentrate when you've got a cranky baby nearby. Many companies make shopping cart activity blankets and other toys that children can occupy themselves with in the cart while you shop. Rule of thumb: if it makes noise and lights up, it's usually a safe bet to bring. Make sure that you have extra bottles in case one breaks or a top is leaky. Formula becomes very sticky on your hands and shirt if you get it all over. So what happens when (not if) your baby uses the restroom? Make sure that you do not leave your house with at least five diapers and a fresh travel pack worth of wipes. Wipes can be used for anything, including fixing transmissions. You'll find many uses for these handy wipes, but most importantly it will keep your baby's nether region clean and free from rash. Always pack baby bottom ointment and use it intermittently to keep your child's skin soft and healthy.
What Could Be Left!?
Ok so you've got the food, clothing, distraction toys, extra bottles, diapers and wipes. All done! Wait.... you may be missing something. I promise, you could empty your entire crib room into your man-purse and still be missing something when things go down, but this will definitely get you off to a good start. Some other items you may want to consider if you have any realty left in your man-purse would be a pacifier (depending on the child's likes/wants), changing cloth, plastic bags for cleaning up messes and dirty diapers (it's extremely easy for a new parent to have their car turned into a large trash bin) and gum. Gum is especially important for a new dad to carry around, especially on long road trips. Some children get extremely cranky during car rides and no matter what you do, screaming is their favorite thing to do in the car. I used to think turning the music up to drowned out the noise was a good idea, but remember, we are trying to keep our children safe. This could be dangerous to their still-developing ears. Get something (like gum) that you can focus on instead of the noise. count the number of times you chew if you have to. Another thing that you absolutely must remember when driving with a child is that turning around to see what's the matter is never a good idea. They can wait, I promise. Wait until you can safely park the car before tending to a screaming child. Once you've figured out the issue or realize that the child is crying because that's what they feel like doing, you can continue on the road. Do not get frustrated with children. They literally don't know any better. They will cry; i guarantee it. Accept that you cannot fix an issue that isn't always there and let them cry if that's what they choose to do.
Please, I beg of you, make memories. Keep a journal of the outings that you have and anything funny that happened including what creepy strangers will always feel it's appropriate to approach you and say. These memories should last forever. This is the child you created; you're raising them to be the person you want them to turn out to. You used to be a kid once, now it's their turn. Let them run around (where appropriate of course) and climb and jump like crazy people. They are!!!