The New Dad’s Guide To Fatherhood

This Father’s Day we’ve been joined by some of the dads here at Frugi to chat all things fatherhood!

 

Father: 1. Noun. A male parent or parent-figure. 2. one who loves, supports, guides, inspires and encourages his children. 3. a man of strong character who teaches by example. 4. one who is patient, kind and understanding. 5. a man who is emulated, admired and very loved.

 

 

Meet the Frugi Dads!

We chatted to some of the dads here at Frugi HQ who have ‘been there, done that, got the baby sick stained t-shirt’.

The Hospital Bag Checklist for Expecting Dads:
James:

Snacks! And a car seat (they won’t let you leave the hospital if you’re travelling by car and don’t have a car seat!)

 

Matt:

Unless you’re rushing to the hospital with the mother in labour, chances are you’ll be at the hospital pre and post birth for a while.  I certainly didn’t realise we might be in hospital for a few days just waiting to go to the birthing suite, nor did I appreciate that we’d continue to be in hospital for several days afterwards.  For dads, take some food and water.  You’re pretty limited to vending machines in the hospital (or at least we were) so sandwiches, fruit, instant noodles were good things to bring so you’re not having to pop out for food.  Apart from that – maybe take a book or 2 (perhaps something like ‘Commando Dad: Basic training’), some comfortable clothes to change into, and a toothbrush / soap / facecloth.

 

Iestyn:

It is likely you won’t be able to stop for long so foods that are quick to eat and full of energy like nuts, dried fruits and sweets are great and a few isotonic drinks. A magazine or some form of entertainment, although the process will be entertaining enough.

 

Nic:

My unusual thing to pack is a set of Bluetooth headphones. Once baby is here, you may find yourself sitting in silence for hours whilst mummy sleeps. A set of headphones means you can listen to an audio book, watch a film and catch up on social media or the news. The joy of Bluetooth means there are no wires for baby to get caught up in if you’re holding them.

 

Richard:

Crisps or snacks for your partner. Crockery shield for when you get blamed for the pain, the agony and everything else. Steel gauntlets for when your partner holds your hands during the final contraction and breaks every bone in your hand as you are trying to be calm and encourage them.

Tom:

Charger or power bank – don’t run out of charge when you need that all important photo. A babygrow for those first few hours. Some tiny baby easyfit reusable nappies. They go on like disposables but you wash them instead of throwing away. They’re made from super soft cotton with no nasty chemicals like you can find in disposables. Change for the car park and vending machines!

 

 

Childbirth from the Father’s point of view…

James: It was all a blur to be honest. Memory’s a funny thing! I know we were there for hours but my recollection is of it being over in minutes.

 

Matt: While I appreciate that I got the much better end of the deal, the childbirth wasn’t a great experience for me. Prepare yourself.  It’s unlikely to go the way you planned, possibly won’t go the way the doctors / nurses expected.  There’s a good chance there’ll be some concerning events or situations.  You’ll have to put your faith in the staff and leave them to it.  Follow what they say for the best chance of things going as well as they can. Overall, try not to show your emotions too much as your main job is to provide support to your wife / partner and to help them remain calm and get through the birth.

 

Iestyn: Whilst nothing will compare with what a mother goes through during labour, it is certainly not easy for the Father. All experiences are different but you will likely feel quite helpless, all you can do is be positive and be there to support the mother. Although you will probably have a birthing plan I don’t think things often go quite to plan, so it is good to be flexible and go with the flow, try to remain calm if things get a little stressful.

 

Tom: Trust your partner and support their views and wants for the birth plan.  Discuss with other parents, pregnant friends.  Get advice from different organisations to understand all of the options that are available.  There is no “normal” plan, only an “individual plan”. 

First child was a whirlwind for me.  Once at the hospital, whilst driving like a F1 driver (not recommended, achieves very little apart from making mum even more stressed) you may find yourself going into over protect mode!  Try to remain calm and do EVERYTHING your partner asks for, even if it is a wild request! 

You may be told to go home!  It’s too early.  Be prepared for a long wait. 

The rest is a moment in life you cannot read about or fully understand until you are there in the presence of your partner doing the most amazing thing possible in life.  If you do not have a higher respect already for your partner and mother of your child you absolutely will after witnessing the birth.  Do not ever complain about Man Flu again. 

 

 

Did you get Parental Leave and how did you spend it?
James:

It was quite a while ago, so I can’t really remember. When my first was born, I’d only just started a new job (before Frugi) so I didn’t qualify for paternity leave. I had a week of holiday. I expect I spent it learning how to do new baby stuff! When my second was born, I expect I spent it relearning!

 

Matt:

Ensuring that my wife had plenty of rest, bonding with Miles, occasional local walks due to lockdown restrictions, and playing Sim City while Miles was sleeping on me.

 

Iestyn:

First 5 days were back and forth to hospital, remaining time was spent in our baby bubble and trying to get used to being parents and the new norm (cake from neighbours, friends, family was very gratefully received, we ate a lot of cake!)

 

Nic:

We were in hospital for the first few days with both and then, once home, it was a case of adjusting to our new norm! Lots of local trips for walks, seeing family and generally being a proud dad. When Lilith arrived, I spent a lot of time giving George some one-on-one time, to ensure he didn’t feel pushed out.

Richard:

Only had it once as it was not available for my boys. Mum and Eva were poorly. I spent days on domestic duties and playing Lego and Star Wars with the boys (6 and 3 at the time). Nights was wind relief after feeding and catching sleep when I could.

Tom:

I was self-employed at the time and did not have “Parental Leave”.  I was able to take a few weeks away from work and enjoy the time with the new bundle of joy. 

 

 

The best thing about being a dad?

James: The feeling you get when you’ve made them really, properly happy. Makes you feel like the greatest person in the world.

 

Matt: Seeing Miles’ face light up as he learns new things or is enjoying something. He loves a tickle and being chased around our home by the ‘daddy monster’. And of course, getting hugs from him.

 

Iestyn: Every day is rewarding, it feels like they do something new every day and whilst you do a lot for them, when they give just a little something back, it is the best feeling. Oh, also cuddles and the first time they laugh.

 

Nic: All of it, just knowing you’re a dad is the best bit. That, and having an excuse for why the house is always a mess…

 

Richard: When you walk in the door: the excited scream of “Daddy!” and the run, jump and hug you get when they are young. Equal with bedtime reading and falling asleep with them.

 

Tom: Learning from your children, they can teach you about everything there is to know if you truly watch and listen. Listen to understand, not reply. 

 

 

What was the best advice you received as a new dad?
James:

I can’t remember receiving any advice. We’ve always been very fortunate to have a fantastic support group of friends and family, so it was perhaps demonstrated as opposed to being given.

 

Matt:

Probably just words of encouragement like “it gets easier” or if they’re crying it’s either because they need changing, feeding, or burping. Generally it was!

 

Iestyn:

I was recommended a book called Commando Dad which I found really helpful, it explained things in a way I understood and made things that I thought would be difficult, sound quite simple and easy.

 

Nic:

How to change a nappy, surprisingly useful

 

Richard:

Be prepared to put yourself second for the first 6 months of a new baby’s arrival. Support your partner at every turn and try to give them as much opportunity to sleep / rest as possible. It is easier than it sounds. Others will understand if you are exhausted, most friends, family and colleagues have been there and done it and will offer support and space.

Tom:

There will be a day when it all becomes too much. You will be in a position where sleep deprivation and patience is gone. Make sure you put baby in a safe place on the floor away from harm and take yourself out of the room for a breather. Grab a pillow and scream a little into the pillow. Do not be afraid to call family or friends for help, you WILL need a break at some point. 

 

 

Something that worried you before the birth of your child/children that actually wasn’t so bad once they had arrived?

Iestyn: Driving home for the first time. I definitely wasn’t looking forward to the added pressure and although I drove really slow, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

 

Nic: Balancing work with the lack of sleep, it’s amazing what you can get done on so little sleep. I mean, you’ll look like a zombie for the first month or so, but that just means you’re crushing it.

 

Richard: Everything (First time): it is such a unique experience but being surrounded by midwives / nurses you really do just follow their lead.

 

 

Was there anything you hadn’t taken with you to the hospital that you wish you had?
Matt:

Ready-made formula – our first 48 hours with Miles would’ve been far easier and enjoyable had we known that formula was an option. Without it we felt helpless as it took some time until that was given as an option by the nurses on the ward. After 2 nights of Miles crying constantly, keeping others in the same room of us awake and making it an uncomfortable and stressful situation he was given a bottle of formula. He drank that in seconds and immediately slept soundly.

 

Iestyn:

Neck Pillow. Just don’t get caught napping!

 

Richard:

Food / snacks for my wife. You assume the nurses will look after her and they do, but on nights they are over worked and stretched so making a round of Toast etc is not on the priority list. Don’t eat her toast in front of her either!!

 

Tom:

The baby car seat… Fail!

Name something you took but didn’t need?

James: My wife had it in her head that if we packed much to take with us, it was essentially us planning to stay there. So, we only really took some spare clothes (for mum and baby) and a blanket. Fortunately, that’s all we needed.

 

Matt: I took a few books to the hospital with me, but I didn’t finish the first one.  I spent more time talking with my wife and just reading when she was resting.  Other than that I can’t think of anything I took that I didn’t need – we both usually travel light-ish.

 

Tom: A book on being a dad.

  

 

The piece of advice you’d share with new parents?
James:

Don’t worry. Worrying about every little detail doesn’t help anyone, least of all you. If you’re trying your best and giving your child your love and attention, you’re doing a great job (you do also need to feed them).

 

Matt:

The first 3 / 6 / 12 months are a big change to life.  There’ll be lots of things you can’t control, but it’ll become easier and routine will kick in.  Eventually they will stop crying.  Make sure you’ve got in plenty of the essentials ready for when you come home from hospital. Get a ‘perfect prep’ machine (or similar) if you’re using formula (waiting for boiling water to cool in the middle of the night is very frustrating).  Support each other and make sure the responsibility is shared.  Simple things like alternating on who feeds / changes / does the morning routine makes a huge difference and gives each other time to rest.

 

Iestyn:

Team work makes the dream work. You will be very tired and sleep deprived, give each other the opportunity for a sleep. Also, don’t feel pressured by doing things a certain way, there are lots of opinions on how to do things, just find a way that works for you and go with it.

 

Nic:

If you make a mistake, you can always get up and try again tomorrow. Just know that we are all there with you fighting the same battle, doing the best we can so go easy on yourself.

 

Richard:

Take time for yourselves and your baby. Family support can be great if it is not demanding. Avoid people descending on you from day one: take time get used to your new life, use social media to share the strain. Every child is unique and ask questions no matter how daft you may feel they are.

 

Tom:

Sleep.  Before baby comes, sleep as much as you can. 

 

Describe Fatherhood in 3 words:

James: Laughter, love, madness. Matt: Love, change, patience. Iestyn: Lovely, fun, chaos.

Nic: Learning, hard, purpose. Richard: Exciting, entertaining, adventure. Tom: Like.Herding.Cats

 

 

What skill, hobby or sport would you want your child to love as much as you do?

James: I’m very happy for them to find their own passions in life. If they love it and give it their all, I’ll love it with them.

 

Matt: Snowboarding / skiing, or mountain biking.

 

Iestyn: I definitely will be happy with what ever sports he likes to do but he already owns two footballs.

 

Nic: Bouldering.

 

Richard: A sense of humour, English Cricket fan: same thing!

 

Tom: Playing and sharing music.

 

Happy Father’s Day!