6 Ways to Maintain Your Pre-Baby Persona
Posted on 07 September 2017
Buy Accessories You Think are Cool and Stylish for Your Kid
“So you are having a girl? You should get a pink bag.” File such advice under “Terrible.” Unless you love pink and it’s your style. Do not settle because “pink is for girls.” Your new little girl will not care – she is excited to see colors, any color, in this beautiful world after months in the dark. Buy something you like - it’s your bag. Ask yourself with every purchase, “would I show my buddy this new item, proudly?” If you do share it with your friend and he is honest, would he (or should he) make fun of you? If the answer is “yes”, ditch it and try again. Cultivate your style and use cool stuff for you and your kids. Focus on what you consider important while fulfilling the object’s purpose. Wear and use items you enjoy, as you did pre-baby. You will feel good about it and it will carry over into your attitude about being with your kid(s). Looking good equates to feeling good: making you a happier and better dad.
Participate in Your Hobbies - Even if it is Less Frequent
When my first bundle of joy arrived, I stopped too many hobbies I loved because “now I need to be a dad.” Boy, was I wrong. Life is busy in a different way the first couple of months during the transition of adding a new family member but then you need to get back to the hobbies that give you happiness. I stopped snowboarding (among other things) for years after my first son was born… BIG mistake! It took me 8-9 years start again. Looking back, I realize putting my hobbies on hold was a mistake, one I urge you not to make. If you stop a hobby, you may start to hold a grudge, thinking, “before kids I used to…” Do not fall into this trap. Yes, you will participate in your hobbies less often, but stopping altogether is a horrible idea. Keep engaging in what you love. In time, your kids will notice your commitment and passion and you might just inspire your next great hobby partner. How cool is that?!
Keep Learning New Things Like You Would Have Pre-Baby
Do you remember when you and your friends or spouse used to go out and try new things? Do you remember feeling energized and bonding with friends? Try it with your kids. Guess what? The same feelings arise. When the kids are with grandpa and grandma - try new things. New experiences create interesting people. You’ve likely had those friends who had kids and everything in their life turned into “baby this” and “kids that”. I’m guessing you hung out with them less and less because they really weren’t interesting anymore, right? After the 83rd story about how cute it was when baby mashed their cheerios into a pile a smuck and threw it, any sane person is thinking “I don’t care about your baby’s pile of bile-ridden snacks… where is the bartender?! Help me.” Keep learning and exploring and trying. Set an example for your kids to follow - inspire your children to be interesting and ambitious.
Keep Going on Vacation
Not extreme vacations, obviously - no baby wants to be strapped in a baby carrier while you heli-ski (besides, the extra weight might be a bit rough on the knees). However, getting out of town to experience the world is crucial. For the first year, keep it simple, but still do it. As the kids grow, broaden your sense of adventure. By the time they are toddlers you will be exploring new countries, cultures and languages! Nothing attracts kids’ interest in learning new languages quite like being in new land where they can’t communicate. Experiencing new cultures creates better-rounded people and bestows newfound empathy. Once your kids are old enough, push them help plan and navigate your journey. How do we get to the hotel, house, etc? Where is the beach from here? Should we visit the cave or the jungle? Incorporate them into the decision making process to both empower and teach - and buy books – Yes. In a world of electronics and screens, buy actual books with paper pages. Children love books and love reading - with you and by themselves. Your kids will learn they retain the ability to impact their journey - a key principle to teach our kids in all walks of life.
Focus on Your Relationship with Your Significant Other
It’s easy to get caught up in all things baby and kids. This new transition is great, and the draw to focus solely on the kids is strong. Remember why you and your significant other are together and how great they were before kids. Use the times when you are baby free, after the baby is in bed, or while they are with grandma to spend much needed time together. Try not to talk about the baby. So many couples lose that special connection after they have kids. Keep watering and fertilizing (ok bad choice of words) your relationship so it grows thick and fruitful. Your kids will see how you act together and will have a good model for future relationships. This will also enforce the aspect of team parenting, which will help your bond grow and thrive.
Go Out with Your Friends – Alone
Yep, even with a new baby at home. Go be a guy, hang out, laugh and do guy stuff. You need some time away to clear your head. You should do this and your significant other should too. Go out with buddies at least twice per month. This is how you stay connected with your friends and yourself. Keep the baby talk to a minimum. No one wants to hear incessant stories about baby’s first bath. Keep pictures to an absolute minimum. Yes I know your little bald alien IS the cutest kid you have ever seen, but not for your friends. They’ll lie and tell you how awesome, but seriously, don’t be that guy. Another benefit: The alone time with the other parent and the kids is a great bonding time. I cherish all the times she was elsewhere and I was with the kids. Then you can do all kinds of great stuff. Dress them funny. Take hilarious pictures, read them a book and be animated. Be yourself and bond with your kids. It is these times you remember when they are growing up and leaving socks and clothes all over the house or never putting tools back (and yes, I mean never). Trust me on this one.
Maintain your true self as your kids grow so they can appreciate who their dad is. Your children will realize you are your own person - not just a guy who goes to work, or stays home with them. Their dad is someone with hobbies and friends and real passions for life and is overall a pretty cool guy. This is a gift you should give your kids. It is never to late to start. Raising your kids goes by incredibly fast - you don’t want to be a shell of your original self when they are all grown up.
*Scott is the President and co-founder of DadGear and is a dad to 3 boys ages 14, 11, 11.