Ten things I learned from becoming a Dad
A life-changing experience
It seems like a lifetime ago that I had my first child.
But the feelings are still as fresh as if it happened yesterday.
It's difficult to explain the exact emotions I experienced when my daughter was born.
An overwhelming feeling of amazement and fear gripped my body, from my hair to the tips of my toes as tears ran down my cheeks.
Very quickly I realised my life would never be the same now that I needed to care for a new and vulnerable human being.
Many people told me that becoming a Dad would change my life in so many ways.
And as corny as it sounds, it's hard to understand if you don't have kids of your own.
Nevertheless, I though I would collate the ten most important lessons I have learned since entering the 'fatherhood phase' of my life.
1. You have more energy than you realize
Being a Dad can be exhausting!
I remember the first six months or so after my first daughter was born.
There were plenty of naps of the lounge throughout the day, early bedtimes and nights that I thought were like a cruel sleep deprivation torture administered to the worst-of-the-worst.
But as time went on and more children were born, I realized I actually have a lot more energy than I ever knew.
Sure, it's still tiring, but nothing like it used to be.
2. The world is amazing
When you become a Dad you start to rediscover the world.
Animals, sunsets, songs, flowers, bubbles, you name it.
All these things that you once thought were amazing but ignored as you got older become amazing again as you get to see and experience them them through the eyes of your child.
I even started to see the world in a new, spiritual way.
3. Waking up early is not so bad
I was once the worst person in the world for waking up early.
I remember the pain of needing to get to a class at college at 8am for a whole semester!
Now for many years I have woken at 6am thanks to my kids and guess what? It's not so bad.
Even on business trips away I find it hard to sleep past 7am.
I'm a guy that likes to concentrate on one task at a time.
But as any parent will tell you, it's kind of impossible when you have little ones.
As a Dad you might be cooking a meal, listening to your daughter tell you a story while putting on a DVD for your sons and acting as a 'peacemaker' between warring sibling factions.
Multi-tasking becomes a real skill rather than something you read in job descriptions!
5. Concentrating on what's important
Becoming a Dad is a big job and you quickly realize that you can't always do everything.
Cleaning up the garden may not be an option when you're caring for an infant.
Painting a room might not be the best thing when your daughter needs to visit the doctor.
I've learned that most of the time you need to dedicate your time to what's going to have the biggest impact.
This has been an incredibly valuable learning experience for the workplace too.
6. Taking the lead
Kids don't know a lot about the world. They're still learning how things work.
So as a Dad it's important to 'take the lead' and guide your kids in the right direction.
Before kids I might have sat back a bit in life and let others take the lead.
Now I manage a department of 20 people at work! It's quite amazing how being a Dad can make you a leader.
7. You can achieve anything
Becoming a Dad has changed my life so much and although I love it, has been a huge challenge with many obstacles.
I have put my heart and soul into being a Dad and I think I've done a good job in what have sometimes felt like overwhelming circumstances.
It's really made me believe that there's not really anything in life you can't achieve.
Being a good Dad means giving up some of the things you used to enjoy.
Nobody really enjoys giving up the fun things, but it's actually a valuable lesson.
There's so much in life you can achieve by being a bit selfless and I may not have really appreciated this without becoming a Dad.
9. Setting the example
It's hard to expect good behaviour from your kids if you don't do it yourself.
Getting angry when things don't go your way, swearing (yes I have been guilty of this in the past!) they're all things you don't want your kids to do.
So sometimes you need to draw on a bit of inner strength and patience to set a good example.
Kids mimic their parents, so I've found it important to be a good role-model.
10. Unconditional love
Most importantly, I have learned about unconditional love.
When your child has been naughty, when you've had a challenging day, when energy is low, you are quickly reminded that your child means the world to you.
And like marriage, you will love your child in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, and until the day you take your last breath you will love them with all your heart and do anything for them.