When they say nothing can prepare you for fatherhood, one of the things that catch many new dads out is how excruciating the shrill crying can be as it pounds through your ears. You might be lucky enough to have a quiet baby, or possibly be immune to the cries, but many dads (and mums) find the sound of their own baby cry immediately draining.
It’s like someone flushes any and all energy that was in your body. Your heart rate goes up, you get cold sweats. Intolerable.
Well the good news is that all of this is perfectly natural and is nature’s way of telling you that your offspring needs love and attention. It’s OK to feel stressed out by all this crying. It’s OK that it makes you feel angry. It’s OK that you feel frustrated that you can’t soothe your baby’s crying – you just don’t always have breasts for it. You might be used to being Mr. Perfect at work, but all of a sudden you feel useless and defeated by a small tiny version of yourself.
Keep your head, whilst all about you are losing theirs
What’s not OK, of course, is to take the anger out on your baby or partner. There’s a difference between feeling anxious because of a baby crying and being angry with a crying baby. The former is your body’s way of urging you to deal with something urgently. The latter is taking your frustration out on someone else, which is not only wrong – it doesn’t even make sense.
Babies can’t be naughty. Babies can’t do bad things. Babies aren’t wrong.
You choose how you react to things. Don’t let stressful emotions dictate your behaviour
Once your baby grows into a 2-3 year old toddler, you might think about disciplining them if they’ve done something fundamentally wrong, by teaching them the right way to do something and showing that you are disappointed and sad because of how they behaved.
How to react to a tantrum
Reacting angrily with them would surely only serve to teach them that Dad has lost control and this is how he sometimes deals with situations? You’re also much less likely to be consistent (as you’re reacting to them based on your immediate emotional response rather than what you think is right for your child). This inconsistency might also send mixed signals about what’s right and wrong. The more confused, misunderstood and out-of-control a toddler feels, the more likely they are to have a tantrum as a result.
As your little one gets older, you’ll be able to have more conversations with them. For now, their way of explaining what they need is to scream the house down. If you’re finding it a big challenge, try relaxation techniques and speaking to your partner, friends or a GP.
Finish with a joke
Well, that article was a bit intense… To lighten the mood, here’s my parody on the Trainspotting poem:
Choose life. Choose to be a parent. Choose to cut the cord.
Choose to change your baby’s first nappy and spend 35 minutes doing it.
Choose between Pampers and ASDAs Little Angels.
Choose to remove a nappy at just the wrong time. Choose to get peed on.
Choose to go to work, not realising you’ve been peed on.
Choose ‘Follow on’ milk… or not.
Choose steaming organic sweet potatoes, only to watch them end up as a pile of cold mush in the bottom of a bib.
Choose a dishwasher, or choose to BE the dishwasher.
Choose a decent smartphone so you can catch at least a bit of the footy on the go. It’s not like you’ll get to watch a full game on your TV this season anyway.
Choose a baby monitor with built-in camera and watch your little one scream the house down on Live TV – it’s like you’re almost there!
Choose a non-alcoholic beer to avoid the hangover.
Choose waking up at 2:15 in the morning to the sound of “Daddy!”
Choose between a 2:16am tantrum or having breakfast in the middle of the bleeding night!
Choose to be a disciplinarian, or not, and get judged by others whichever you choose.
Choose to swear you’ll never be like your parents then hear THEIR words coming out of YOUR mouth.
Choose working hard to provide for your family.
Choose to work less and spend more time with your family.
Choose HIIT workouts if you’ve found 15 minutes spare in an evening… Yea right!
Choose Netflix or Now TV. Choose Peppa. Choose Iggle Piggle and wondering who the hell you are on a Saturday morning.
Choose to watch Zootropolis because you actually want to watch that one yourself.
Choose to switch it off and teach your kid how to ride a bike.
Choose a playground.
Choose to ask your kid if they need to go to the toilet, only for them to reply that it’s too late, they’ve already weed themselves.
Choose to take your kid to a swimming class half way across town on a rainy Sunday evening because it’s the only time and place available.
Choose Monday mornings. Choose to tell your kid “we’re going to be late” every 5 seconds.
Choose a Ford Focus, it’s boot can fit a Bugaboo twin pram.
Choose ‘I spy with my little eye’.
Choose to do the school run.
Choose to ignore other parents in the playground because you’re so exhausted that you just can’t be bothered to network with other mums and dads.
Choose a flat white from Costa Coffee.
Choose Friday night drinks after work and face the consequences on Saturday morning.
Choose to not post baby photos on Facebook, “…apart from this one because it’s just too cute not to”.
Choose to feel guilty that you spend too much time on Facebook.
Choose ToysRUs for presents, then buy then from Amazon because it’s actually a little bit cheaper.
Choose DUPLO. Choose LEGO!!
Choose the Natural History Museum. The dinosaurs are truly incredible!
Choose walking in the front door and seeing your child’s super happy face and knowing that’s the best feeling in the world.
Choose ANOTHER bedtime story.
Choose to do it all again…. because it’s totally worth it.
Choose to be a parent.
If you enjoyed this, you’ll probably like my book ‘Dad F.C. Debut Dads: The First Season of Fatherhood’