"Being a good dad starts with presence not presents"
So, you just found out you're going to be a dad. Your partner is going to be carrying around a baby for 9 months and you are think 'so what do I do now'. Well here are 10 things you can do in the next nine months that will pay dividends once your little bundle of joy arrives.
1. Get On Diaper Duty
I'm not talking about practicing changing diaper (you will get more than enough of that). When we found out that we were having Lucy I tried to think of things that would be really annoying when you at suffering from lack of sleep, and running out of diapers was one. So I crunched the numbers and we pre-bought a load on diapers. Every week we went shopping we would buy a box of diapers or a box of wipes. By the time Lucy came around we had stocked up enough to last almost 6 month. Which was just one less thing to worry about. This is what I would suggest going for if you are going to stock up. We stuck to Huggies and have tried a few other brands since then but have always gone back.
1 x Newborn (35 Pack)
3 x Size 1 (264 Pack)
5 x Size 2 (240 pack )
5 x Size 3 (216 pack)
unlimited amount x wipes
2. Witness The Fitness
When people apply to the navy seals and go through sleep deprivation like we all have heard about they are probably close to the fittest they have ever been. Its no different for you. Make the effort to get even a small amount fitter than you are now. It will help you deal with stress better and help when you inevitably put on the extra pounds in the first year of your baby's life.
3. Build A Network
If you are lucky enough to have family around this is awesome. Even so try to build a bigger network of support. Look for local parent groups you can go to, join Facebook groups, scout out possible baby sitters. Maybe someone will come and do your laundry or watch the baby for an hour while you can sleep. You'll be surprised how great it is to have some solid support in a time of sleepless crisis.
4. Stock Up On Blankets And Master The Swaddle
Baby blankets are awesome but there tend to get a shocking amount of bodily fluid on them when actually wrapped around a baby. Give yourself a brake and make sure you have a bunch. One, so you don't have to do laundry every day, and two, because there will be some blankets that you just wont be able or willing to rescue. If you are looking at the packets of blanket in the store and thinking they are to expensive. Then just go to your local fabric store and buy material by the meter then trim it up and sew the edges. Once you have a blanket get a baby size pillow or a creepy doll and practice swaddling. Getting this skill down (or at least getting close) is invaluable when your baby gets here. Get the right swaddle technique and it could prevent some epic crying bouts.
5. Don't Baby Proof Your House...Yet
Unless your child is unlike most other children they will be immobile for the better part of 6 months after they are born. This means they won't be climbing the stairs, falling in the toilet or darting forks into electrical outlets. However you will be trying to plug things in, go to the bathroom and using the stairs on a very regular basis, usually with one hand holding a baby. Don't make your life hard by having to unlock a toilet seat, pull out a plug cover or step over a baby gate. You will know when its time to actually baby proof your house and by then you will probably have seen lots of tricks that other parents have used and will probably save money on it.
6. Become A Masterchef With Month To Go
I love cooking, but in the first few months of having Lucy I was so tired that cooking constituted putting a bagel in the toaster. Luckily for a month before she came we had been feverish making meals that we could throw in a slow cooker or easily heat in the oven and freezing them. We made pasta bake, chana masala, Dal, lasagna, soup, cottage pie, veggie pies, pizzas and whatever else we could think of. We called it the emergence meals. It meant that we had a bunch of things that we could make with minimal effort and still have a good meal no matter how tired we felt.
7. Make Second Hand Your First Choice
There is a huge temptation to buy brand new baby clothes with your first child, try to resist. Realize that pretty much all of their clothes and the majority of yours will have poo, sick or milk on them for while. Save the money and go to the thrift store and stock up on onesies, they are easy to get on and off and usually do a great job of keep poop explosions inside the clothes and not on the car seat, sofa or person holding baby.
8. Plan To Be In The Room
I have talk to some dad who have stood outside while there son or daughter have come into the world. My advice, be there, its amazing. Do whatever you have to do inside to prepare mentally if you feel like you need to but be there, in the room. Its an amazing experience and you are missing out on something special if you aren't there.
9. Get Real With Eachother
This is probably the most important part of prepping for a baby. Have some real conversations with your partner. Both about your baby and each other. Talk about night feeding, co sleeping, breast feeding, formula, work schedules, back to work plans. Get it out so you aren't deciding things in a stressful moment once baby is here. My best example was they fact that we discussed that we would try to breast feed but if it wasn't happening then switching to formula was not an issue. We even got a tub of formula, it took any stress or stigma around it away. If you can do this with even just a few of the issues that might arise your are going to end up ahead.
10. Realize That No One Has Everything Figured Out
This includes me. My advice is purely anecdotal with a spatter of research and some number crunching thrown in for good measure. Everyone will give you advice about everything to do and not do. Everyone will have an opinion on the decisions you make, but make them anyway. Make the decisions that are best for your family and take what everyone else says with a grain of salt.