Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pre-Dadhood Advice

Greg at asks:
What one piece of advice did you get before the kid was born that strikes you as valuable, unique, or surprisingly important?

What piece of advice do you wish you'd heard but didn't?

What signs should should be plastered on the scaffolds and telephone poles of Park Slope for dads-to-be to see?

Here's my response (I'm in the "the server will tell most of you there was an error in submitting your comment" cohort, so I'm not sure if it will show up there or not.):

1. Buy a TiVo. You (or more likely your wife) will thank yourself at 3am someday.

2. Save some of your paternity leave / vacation days / pto / whatever for the first few months after the baby arrives. If you burn it all in the first couple weeks, you won't have enough to cover the inevitable days where going to work just isn't in the cards -- whether it's mom and baby are both sick, or you didn't get enough sleep the night before, whatever.

3. Pay attention. To the baby. To your spouse. It's really not that hard to anticpate what they need, but you have to be tuned in enough to notice the cues.

4. Your wife is genetically engineered to serve the baby at her own expense. Your job is to make sure she gets a break before *she* breaks.

5. If you (well, your wife) is doing the breastfeeding thing, keeping tabs on the baby's I/O (feedings & diapers) is going to be important. I made a spreadsheet with columns for Left, Right, Wet, and Dirty in 30-minute blocks. If you scale it right, you can fit a week on a single side of 8.5x11 paper. Take it to Kinko's and make enough copies to get you through a couple months. You'll eventually abandon it, but in the "fog of war" of the first few weeks, you'll both appreciate not having to remember when the next feed is due, or how many diapers a day you're going through. The doctor will love you for that too -- data is good. (If you're really into the baby data collection stuff, check out the TrixieTracker)

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