Richard Herring, one of my favourite comedians, has recently announced that he and his wife are expecting their first baby and, although it is against the whole ethos of this website, I thought I might be in a position to pass on some unsolicited advice on how to prepare for being a new dad.
Firstly Richard, expect a whole heap of unsolicited advice and ignore all of it.
Next, you won’t find this in The Baby Whisperer or Gina Ford, but your new role in the house will generally revolve around the acquisition of teabags. The week before Elsa was born we had one of those massive 300 packs, unopened. A week after the birth they were gone. There will be a queue akin to the hoards that descend on Red Square to file past Lenin’s embalmed remains, waiting outside your door for their opportunity to coo, profess with absolute certainty which of you the baby looks most like and drink your caffeinated beverages.
You may have to scale down your biscuit expectations from ‘nice’ (with a small ‘n’) to ‘Digestive’, in order to ward off bankruptcy too. Your first act of hunter-gathering as a family man will be a trip to Costco to stock up on these essentials until your cupboard reaches ‘grandma’ levels of tea and biscuit reserves.
Whilst you’re there you might want to fill any remaining space in your car with Pampers because you know how many nappies you think you need? Yeah, double that.
Are you on a water meter? I only ask because at some point during the first few weeks, every night if you’re unlucky, you might find yourself running out of ideas for calming a baby who appears to be screaming for absolutely no reason. They are clean, they have been fed, the temperature is perfect (there are thermometers for EVERYTHING – room temperature, milk temperature, bath temperature and forehead temperature and the ideal reading for each is different, naturally), so how to stop them crying? White noise is the answer and, other than creating your own whale call (I did try), the best bet is to rock baby in your arms whilst the tap runs in the sink.
Don’t fancy that? The oven extractor fan works as well so it’s a toss up between which utility is the biggest rip off – water or electricity. Ha! Trick question, they both are, hence the attempted Free Willy impression.
Now is the time to abstain. Don’t watch anything on Netflix, Amazon Prime or whichever is your on-demand television service of choice because there will soon be long, seemingly endless nights when your child will just eat (well, drink) so you need to have some nice, long, sprawling TV series to look forward to. These nights are the reason that iPads were invented – previously parents had to scour stone slates depicting crude, chiseled images of mild-mannered teachers discovering how to create crystal meth for entertainment during the night feeds.
And finally, a piece of advice that works as well for expectant fathers as pretty much anyone else in the entire world. Don’t, whatever you do, watch What To Expect When You’re Expecting when you’re expecting. Even if you have read What To Expect When You’re Expecting, the film is so different that you won’t know exactly what to expect when you watch What To Expect When You’re Expecting when you’re expecting. But I can tell you from experience that what you should expect when you watch What To Expect When You’re Expecting when you’re expecting is that it is horrendous. Worse than Sliding Doors. Imagine.
Hope that helps.
P.S. You will probably be pledging right now never to offer an expectant dad unsolicited advice. We all did that.