There are a lot of things that are taught in parenting classes when you become a new dad or new parent. I look back 10 years ago to when I was going through the classes and it was much of the basics like how to hold a baby (accidentally picking up the doll is NOT recommended by the teacher… trust me from personal experience), the proper way to swaddle a baby, and the ways to cope with a baby who will not stop crying.
Somewhere, there is video of me attempting to change the diaper of my newborn 10 years ago as a new dad. It was one thing that those parents classes didn’t teach, oddly. It was almost as if they expected us to know that… or practice on our partners Cabbage Patch dolls.
But that wasn’t the one thing I wish I had knew when I became a new dad.
Looking back over these last 10 years, I look at my involvement in my kid’s life and I was there from the start. Early on, it might have been for selfish reasons as I attempted to grow a social media following, and was even known to let my kid cry just so that I could get a video of it with the hope that it would become the next viral video. Without thinking about the ramifications of what it would look like to other parents.
As I progressed from being a new dad, to the dad of a toddler, to a pre-teen, while raising yet another toddler, I realized the one thing that I wish I knew when I became a new dad…
Dads Don’t Babysit
When I look at my involvement raising our kids now verses the moment I became a new dad there is a major difference of the type of dad that I am now.
I started blogging about my journey as a new dad and to be honest, I had a hard time grasping the concept that, “Dad’s Don’t Babysit.” Early on, I really felt like that is what I was doing. With my work schedule 3 days out of the week, I was at home with my kid, who at times, I would leave to his own devices so that I could do the things that I wanted to do, like taking those three days and just being lazy on the couch watching William crawl, cry, laugh, or attempt to stand up against the couch and fall on his butt… while laughing… from the same couch.
Then as I starting forming friendships, because of my social media following that I was also working on building during all of this, something changed. The phrase, “Dad’s Don’t Babysit” started to make sense. It was less about just being in the presence of your kid and more about being involved. There was more to fatherhood then just changing diapers and feedings.
While it is about those nighttime readings, it is about understanding which cries mean they need food, sleep, or are truly hurt. Not babysitting is putting down the phone and rolling on the floor as the kids wrestle with you. It is about cleaning up the spit-up off the floor. Not babysitting is taking the kids out of the house so that your partner can have some time to just chill after a long day.
Not babysitting your kids is about letting go of the things that you’d like to be doing on a Friday night with friends at a bar, so that you can get some sleep and wake up the next day to really be involved in your families life or knowing that you will be up several times during the evening with a crying baby. Being an involved dad is figuring out how to set up a remote baby monitor, before monitors were able to broadcast via WiFi, to listen to so that you can go out and mow the grass while your child naps.
I regret that it took me so long to figure this out. But being a dad is about teaching your kids important life lessons and showing them the type of parent they should grow up and aspire to be when they become a new dad or parent.
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