To all the dads out there, Happy Father’s day! With Father’s Day just days away, I wanted to reflect on how things have changed since becoming a dad myself. It’s one of the most wonderful and rewarding experiences. There’s something really special about cradling your newborn in your arms for the very first time. Or watching them take their first steps. Hearing them say their first words and hearing dad-deee for the first time. I cherish every day.
Knowing you’ve had a hand in shaping them is both scary and exciting all at the same time. And it’s something that makes it all worthwhile. But when everyone said your life would completely change, I can’t say I completely believed them. Ha!
People often ask when you have your first one, whether you’re getting any sleep. I can do with lack of sleep – I breezed through school with many all-nighters and probably averaged less than 4 hours of sleep a night all through college. What I wasn’t prepared for was the lack of ‘free time’. When I started thinking about my days before and after having my first one, it kind of made me chuckle. So I thought I’d take a break from talking about money and do something a little different and show you a little glimpse into my days, today and what it was like before daddy-hood.
A day in the life
Pre-fatherhood morning routine: Sound asleep until the alarm wakes me at 7:30 am. Have breakfast, while I catch up on the news. Get dressed and prepare lunch. Kiss my wife at the door and off to work.
Today it’s more like: Being abruptly awoken by the sweet sounds of our little 2-year old singing MaaaaMeeee, DaaaaDeeee in escalating octaves. This is of course 6:30 am – a good hour before my alarm is set to ring. We attempt to go back to sleep while she chats up her toy puppy, to no avail.
And then it begins: get her changed, us changed, work clothes ironed, showered, fed, games of hide-and-seek, tea party, play house, prepare lunch, a quick game of catch me if you can…Oh did I forget my wallet? Check! Phone? Check! Where’s my lunch bag? Why of course, in the toy shopping cart under a pile of blocks and dollies. Running late again! Give my kisses and I-love-you’s at the door and carefully back out of the driveway and head to work for some peace and quiet. Where my day is peppered with new calendar events, diaper and diet updates from my wife. Thank goodness for smartphones!
My pre-fatherhood after-work routine sort of went like this: Relax with the lovely wife. Chat about our days. Wonder about what to have for dinner and whenever the mood strikes us. Nice relaxing dinner followed by an evening walk before heading back to the home office. Perhaps do some freelance work, spend some time blogging or some time relaxing. Consider an upcoming vacation, movie night…Ah, the night is young. What’s the rush, right?
Today’s it’s more like: Race home to be greeted by my excited little one, eager to walk to the mailbox and ‘help’ me sort through the stash of junk mail, while mommy prepares dinner. Get in the house, attempting to not trip over the completely deconstructed hall closet that is the temporary home to her teddy collection. Kiss my wife, set the table. Eat dinner without noticing, since I’m keeping my eye on my daughter so she doesn’t gouge her own eye out, with her new set of fork skills. And attempt to sneak in a chat with my wife between the demanding “DaDeee!”s from the wee one for attention.
Dinner is always a creative exercise in distraction. Junk mail, colouring books, hey, whatever works. You just need to sneak in enough dinner before she’s decided what she couldn’t eat fast enough yesterday, is yucky by today’s standards. Dinner is always followed by some dancing, an energetic game of catch or a high-speed chase around the kitchen. No time to worry about the crazy day at work or obsess about tomorrow’s deadline. Must focus on not tripping and killing myself on the Minnie Mouse kitchen that lines the race route through our kitchen. Time for a bath, book and bedtime. Grab a glass of water, quietly head to the home office (next door to my daughter’s room) and get to work. My wife joins me and we whisper about our days as we work, quietly trying not to disturb our bouncing daughter as she tries to settle herself down for the night. At 11 pm we may venture out of the office to catch the evening news in the living room, grab a snack/tea and then head to bed.
Ok, not everything is a rat race
Although often busy, there are other things that can’t be any slower. I swear when we had our first child, my driving dropped about 20km an hour. Where I would previously find fun in running my car over mall lot speed bumps, I find myself waving through a hundred pedestrians with a smile and sort of getting used to all of the honkings. And where shopping trips would probably take the average guy about 5 minutes, to get what you need, in and out, you find yourself spending hours at the mall to ‘kill time’, and learn new head-nodding techniques to acknowledge other dads.
Being a dad, also lets you be the big kid again. Yep, now I can play with all the coolest new toys (when sharing is cool), without getting strange looks from my friends. Not to mention all the free fitness classes I get.
But by far the coolest part of being a dad, for me, is still walking through that door every day after work and seeing my little one light up. A big reminder that all kids really want is your time.