I have been in denial for a long time. I am a nice guy, I care about people, I like to have fun and play, and children generally like me. Because of this everyone assumed I would naturally be a great dad.
– I WAS NOT –
When my daughter was born, I was super dad! The adrenaline kicked in, and I cooked, cleaned, and took care of the baby for crazy hours so my wife could rest and heal (well deserved!). As the adrenaline wore off, and we began to figure out what the new “normal” was, I struggled more than what I care to admit. I was exhausted, easily agitated, and stopped caring about a lot of things. The change was more than I had ever expected, and I felt like my life and goals were forever put on the back burner.
Some people say, “I loved her from the first moment I held her.” OR “She gave my life meaning the moment she was born.” This may be true for some fathers, but this deep of a connection was a struggle for me. I loved her, and we were excited to add her to our life, but I didn’t feel like the change was all that it was supposed to be. Instead, those statements echoed in my head as evidence of how I was a failure and a terrible person.
* As it turns out, many of my dad friends say they felt more like I did rather than the politically correct lines we are accustomed to hearing.
I spent nearly a year in a woe is me state-of-mind just waiting for something to change. My positive attitude started to sway towards negative and resentful.
Determined to not let my daughter down, I made it my mission to become #DadAwesome! I am still a work in progress (we all are!), but I have found 4 things that have turned my attitude around and enjoy being a dad more than ever.
One consistent ingredient to #DadAwesome success is incorporating your kid(s) into things you already enjoy. Many of my hobbies and traditions have morphed into a new kid-friendly version since Em was born, but it has been an enhancement, not a sacrifice. Trying to keep being a parent separate from your pre-parent interests is a guarantee for failure.
Don’t waste a year being stressed about the massive change when becoming a parent. Instead, start finding ways to incorporate your family into things you enjoy early on. Here are a few things I did that changed everything!
- Find ways to have fun in any situation: Being a parent can be stressful, especially when you are sleep deprived and reminiscing over what it felt like to be lazy. Lighten the mood by finding ways to have fun!
- I started doing this by regularly taking funny pictures of my daughter and sharing with family. It started with me putting funny shoes on her and turned into me photo bombing her at any chance I got! Find ways to have fun with your kids early on when spending time with them.
- Keep the same traditions: The sense of normal life seems far fetched soon after having a child. The best way to overcome this feeling and hit the reset on normal is to incorporate your kids into your established traditions. This is not the time to change everything and create new traditions. That will just leave you missing your old life.
- My wife and I have an ugly christmas sweater party every year, and it is a huge hit with our friends. When Em was born in September, we were exhausted but decided that the show must go on! We incorporated Em and the rest of our friends kids into the party, and it turned out even better!
- Create your sidekick: You will be spending a lot of time with your kids (you better!), so use that time to create the ultimate sidekick! There is nothing as rewarding as creating that special bond with your kid and knowing that you are both way cooler when you are together! Teach them a secret shake or funny sayings that you can impress your fellow dad friends with.
- We have daddy daughter dates a lot so my wife can have a well-deserved break. Instead of seeing this as a burden, I use it as an opportunity to hang out with my sidekick! We have a secret shake, wear cool sunglasses together, sing Frozen songs like a boss, and aren’t afraid to break out into a game of chase in the middle of the mall.
- Reinvent play: I struggled to play with my daughter at first. Baby and toddler toys don’t excite me…. sorry! I did, however, enjoy seeing her play and have fun. To make it more enjoyable for both of you, incorporate things you enjoy into play. Doing this presents a teaching opportunity for you and will warm your heart knowing that she is having fun with you.
- I am a huge soccer fan, so I naturally taught her how to kick a ball and say GOOOOOAAAALLL! Now, we run around the house all day playing soccer and scoring against our dog Cobi Jones. (If you are a soccer fan,… you will appreciate my dogs name!)
BONUS: My wife does a great job of capturing the moments and events of Emerson’s life and putting together photo books etc., but I wanted something to show our #DadAwesome times. I decided to take the quirky pictures a step further and started creating 3-6 minute videos with her doing some of the funny things we do while moms away! Here is a sneak peek of the first one I did while mom was away: Full Post Here.
Take Action Today
Dads….. let go of the stress of parenting and focus on being #DadAwesome with the 4 steps listed in the info graphic. Take being a parent as an opportunity to raise a tiny human that will become one of the best friends and sidekick you could ever imagine! Have fun!