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Dad lessons: 12 mistakes I made in the first year of being a dad

So, what are the worst mistakes parents can make? If you’re a new dad or about to become one, you’ve never had it so good.

The endless supply of books, advice, online articles, and YouTube videos guides you every step of the way through fatherhood and practically forces you to become this modern, state-of-the-art dad of perfection. Unfortunately, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re male. So, no matter how many YouTube videos we watch or how much time we devote to online resources or how-to guides, we will continue to make the most common mistakes and errors in the history of fatherhood. Is it overconfidence, or that we’re just simply incoherent? Whatever it is, in the first year after my child’s birth, my parenting was riddled with the most typically common mistakes possible. Is this a bad thing? No, I’m a new dad. I’ve never done this before. I’m someone who learns from my mistakes (just don’t ask my other half if I learn from my mistakes). This is what it’s all about: making a rather big mistake but learning from it. Luckily for you, I am about to share the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my first year of fatherhood. Although let’s face it, you can read this article several times over, memorise it and then get it tattooed on your hand, but you’re still going to make the exact same mistakes along the way. Let’s get into it. 1) Splurging on too much stuff If it’s made of plastic or includes an iPhone dock, it’s definitely a waste of money. I’ll admit it; this isn’t just me included in this mistake. My missis is an absolute sucker for a “bargain”, and when I say “bargain” I actually mean something bloody useless, and she has just been very impulsive. I’ll admit, though, that I’ve done this too. You see something that you think your baby will love or play with daily, or that will benefit their life tenfold. Realistically, though, they’re a baby. If it’s not a blanket or a dummy, they’re really not going to have a clue. We bought a fair number of gadgets and clothing that have been seen or used fewer than five times. Try to refrain from buying things that look cool or have been recommended on social media. Get the things that have a purpose, and take it easy on the rest. 2) Longing out a nappy change Dawdling around and leaving a baby without a nappy on is one of the worst mistakes parents can make. My little boy took advantage of this many times by making me repaint the nursery walls, consistently scrub the carpets and make sure I kept my mouth closed during a change. Let’s just say that my oral hygiene suffered a few times in the initial months. Always be decisive when changing a nappy, and don’t dawdle.

3) Not seeing the wood for the trees As a new parent, it’s tough. There is no denying that. Sleep deprivation coupled with a shrill baby cry will tip most people over the edge. There is some good news, though. Even if it’s really tough right now, it’s a fact that it will get better, better than better. It will be amazing. Keeping that chin up is key, and as you move forward, the stresses and strains of parenting a newborn will wash away, although the stresses and strains of parenting a toddler then start to appear. On the first night we brought our little one home, we slept a grand total of 45 minutes. I remember turning around to my other half and telling her that if I don’t get any more sleep, I will have a breakdown. Bearing in mind she had just gone through a 20-hour pregnancy and practically been cut in half and was in a lot of pain, she wasn’t pleased with my comment.

4) Staying up late playing games Especially in the initial months, do not make this mistake because the lack of sleep is already at a critical point. If you decide to stay up late for a gaming session with your friends or a date night with your wife, your baby will instantly know when you’ve done this and deliberately wake up extra early the next morning. In the beginning, we struggled with this, but as we became more experienced parents we knew better than to be awake past 10 p.m. 5) Forgetting to check your clothes for chunder, or worse. I was already down at the pub, and my friend was complaining about a sour breast milk smell wafting through the air. I made the key mistake of not checking my clothes before I left the house. Always make sure to check your entire body for puke before you go out. It’s probably best to double-check it, as there is a really good chance that you will miss that sour milk splodge on your shoulder. 6) Comparing your child to other people’s children All children are different, and their first baby milestones will be achieved at different times throughout the first year. It’s important to remember, just because your buddy’s kid has been crawling for 3 weeks doesn’t mean that your newborn needs to get behind the wheel of your Audi and drive it down the street to prove a point. Every kid is different, and you should never ever compare.

7) Leaving your phone unlocked Babies find smartphones fascinating. It turns out they’re also really good at calling the emergency services. I think that’s all that needs to be said. Make sure to never leave your phone unlocked around your little baby. 8) Taking the tantrums personally Countless times, I would pick an argument with the other half after I spent around 45 minutes trying to put the little one down, but to no avail. She walks in and does it within five minutes. It’s hard not to take this personally, but it really is all part of the programme. Your baby isn’t crying because you’re unable to aid them with their sleep. They’re crying because there is something wrong. They could be tired, uncomfortable, or have a headache; it literally could be anything. Take it with a pinch of salt, and sometimes a baby just needs their mum.

9) Forgetting to apply the brakes on the pram This is a mistake you’ll luckily only make once, as your missis will certainly never let you forget it. Mine hasn’t, anyway. 10) Expecting a return to normality You’re not a bad parent if you start to miss your old life. Sometimes I would feel a bit sad about not being able to do the things I once did. Stay out late, have a nap, and play a game for hours on end. Once you’re through the early days, though, one thing you won’t want is your old life back. That will be a thing of the past, and you will be very content with your current situation and excited for what’s to come. 11) Taking criticism terribly My favourite line when I get criticised is, “Oh, I guess I am a bad dad, then.” The thing is, I know I’m not, and my partner is certainly not insinuating that I am. You may wake up one morning and accidentally dress your baby in their babygrow inside out or backwards. No big deal, right? Your wife will probably moan for a minute or so, and then you’ll see the funny side. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation has well and truly kicked in, and you haven’t had your morning coffee yet. This light-hearted banter has translated to, “I hate you. “You’re a terrible father, and you have a small penis.”

This certainly happens a lot, so take a step back and calm down. Your junk is above average, and you’re actually a cracking dad, but you just made a hilarious error. Never mind. 12) Not asking for help You’ll find that people have the reluctance to interfere because they don’t want to come across as pushy. So if you pretend everything’s OK when it isn’t, then they won’t force help on you. If you need help, make sure to ask for it. Even if it’s just a family member or a friend coming around for a few hours to cook or clean, or even watch the baby while you get a couple of hours kip. It’s worth asking this; the worst they can say is no, although it would be surprising if they did. My mother-in-law came around for the first week, every day, and cooked for us. It was an absolute blessing, and the fact that she is a cracking cook also helped sustain my ever-developing dad-bod.

Takeaway You’re never going to go through your first year without experiencing a hiccup along the way. There will always be some small things that you miss or do not have enough time to do, which will inevitably cause situations to occur. You’re only human after all. So embrace your first year, don’t worry about the stuff you might get wrong, and just go out there and be the best parent you can be. Check out our blog page here for more new dad tips and tricks.

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