Doug’s Dad Survival Guide

Doug (my husband) and Mitch (Kelly’s husband) are taking over for our weekly motherhood posts, and I’m counting down the seconds until I can read them. (I’m writing this intro before I’ve received the post from Doug!)

We’re quite literally handing over the keys to the guys. They brainstormed the topic together, and each wrote their own post without our input whatsoever, and I have a feeling this will be one of the most fun and interesting posts to date.

The topic? Their very own Dad Survival Guide. Hysterical. But also useful, I’m sure! They’re both such rockstar dads, and I know will have on-point pieces of advice for dads and dads-to-be everywhere.

Alright, enough of me. Doug, take it away! And, be sure to swing by Kelly’s blog to read Mitch’s survival tips, too!

I know what you are all thinking. The overwhelming thought that consumes your mind while reading this outstanding blog. Who and what is that handsome, striking creature awkwardly featured in Emily’s Instagram Stories? Who is the ground-breaking photographer behind the photos of the Isn’t that Charming world? Who is the lesser half of this amazing blogger?!?

My name is Doug, and I married a beautiful, very talented woman who asked me to write about my experience as a father. I declined due to my preference for Microsoft Excel over Microsoft Word.

However, the offer was sweetened and eventually accepted when my brother-of-another-mother and fellow Trader Joe’s Scotch drinker, Mitch from Kelly in The City, partnered with me to write about our experiences as fathers. Together, we are like Heart and Fire from the cartoon show Captain Planet, which if you watched, is pretty much the only two natural elements you need to dominate and also write great blog posts.

After very little debate, we decided that the key to fatherhood is: SURVIVAL.

You are not ready and you will never be. This is not something you are born with. The keys are preparation, determination, and humility. Always bring a change of underwear. Wow, I sound like a pile of crappy motivational posters from your 4th grade class.

While these antidotes are all more-or-less true, they are not actually helpful, instead filling the body with copious amounts of stress-induced cortisone and mind-numbing doubt. To make it easy for you, I’ve boiled down my successes as a father into a list of specific guidelines which can lead you to a happy family life (technically, the jury is still out since my kids are still babies, so I take no responsibility if your kids turn out to be total animals and your wife hates you).

That being said…

When mama is happy, everyone is happy.

It pains my pathetic ego to say it, but baby mama is numeral uno. She carried the baby, birthed the baby, and in many cases nursed the baby for many, many months on end. You see the effort gap between Dad and Mom?

Don’t get discouraged – you are still extremely important, but acknowledge that the road for moms is not easy and go out of your way to make it easier. Also admit that when your significant other is in a good place, your life becomes substantially more enjoyable. Make mama happy and life will be happier.

Do boring stuff with your kids.

Your kids know nothing. They are born into the world bright eyed and bushy tailed without a single clue of how this new universe works. If you sit and think about it, your life is a myriad of ten million little lessons, caveats, quirks and routines and most of that stuff is relatively boring. Why do you put water on your hands before soap? Why do we not pull the neighbors’ dog’s tail? What’s the point of picking up all our stuff when it’s way more exciting to throw it everywhere and run away? This is especially true for Grace – why are pants important when it feels incredible to run around naked? See my point?

Show your kids and explain in great detail all the little things that make up your everyday. Trust me, they will be fascinated by the simplest and most benign parts of your life, but it will enrich theirs and make them a more well behaved little monster.

Bring extra food.

I have found myself in some precarious situations and 99% of those were related to a lack of food (and/or milk). In my experience, kids only care about two things: food and sleep. Do they ball their eyes out because their diaper is slightly damp or they are too cold or their bed sheet thread count is too low? Negative.

If you find yourself exploring the thousands of alternative scenarios that could be the reason why your child won’t stop crying, do yourself a favor and stop, throw down some Honey Nut Cheerios, and watch the magic happen. There is no greater silencing or peacemaking power that a Dad can wield than a well placed granola bar or 5 oz. bottle of joy.

Buy a minivan.

SUVs. Psssh. Sedans. Psssh. Hybrids. You serious? Have you ever thought what it would be like if your comfy living room had 19” alloy wheels and three individually controlled climate areas? Good, because you should have probably bought a minivan a couple years ago. The minivan is logically the most astute vehicle ever created for families. Great cargo space, ease of loading, comfort for all passengers, affordability…if I kept going I may pass out. Basically, stop denying it. Minivans ARE cool and you needed one yesterday. (I’m currently convincing Emily to get one.)

 Treat yourself through skillful negotiation.

Being a Dad is tough work and it takes a toll on you whether you would like to admit it or not. However, your significant other is also in the trenches so complaining about your lack of free time or lack of sleep will probably earn you some side-eye looks. Instead of whining about it, negotiate. Trade a day of golf with the boys for a wine-and-dancing night with the girls. Bargain for a weekend away or a night out or drink with a buddy, but bring something to the table and barter. You need it, your significant other needs it, so treat yourself.

Own your dad hood.

You are a Dad. You have entered into a whole new realm of “being cool”. You are no longer bound by petty fashion faux pas or societal rules of your past life. There have been so many Dads before you and this fraternal order of men have paved the way to do many bizarre things and still be totally acceptable.

There is a reason Dads can wear socks and sandals, drink a beer at 9am while operating heavy machinery, tout around a lavender Kate Spade diaper bag, and yell at your daughter’s volunteer basketball coach. Some of this behavior may have been embarrassing in your past life, but forget that. You are a Dad now, so own the right to be the ultimate Dad.

 Grow a beard.

The college “Freshman Fifteen” speaks to the 15 lbs. of weight gain that most college Freshman experience in their first year of unlimited dorm food and underage drinking. The “Fatherhood Forty” is the lesser known, but very present, brother of the former. You will probably gain some weight during and after your child is born. Don’t fret – “Dad Bod” is currently in and you are no longer subject to any reasonable requirements of personal fitness (refer to section entitled “Own your dad-hood”).

The best way to disguise your weight gain, while adding a key and commanding feature to your appearance, is to grow a beard. It is a utilitarian masterpiece. It both disguises general weight gain, ages you by 10 years, and makes you seem way more handy, resourceful and royal. Did I say royal? Ever seen a King without a beard? Exactly. Grow a beard.

Stay engaged and be appreciative.

It’s pretty easy to mentally check out of your parental responsibilities due to the overwhelming pace of life with kids. I get it. I have found myself in a mental daze at the end of a tough day with the little monsters and pass the buck off to Emily. However, this isn’t fair to your significant other and it’s not fair to yourself.

One of your key responsibilities as a Dad is to stay mentally engaged. Be present, be aware, look for ways to help. You will end up making everyone around you happier, including your kids, and you will develop a sense of appreciation for the microscopic moments that make up a wonderful life as a Dad.

…Em here. Literally laughed out loud while reading that. Thanks Doug, and thanks Mitch, for taking over for the day! These tips are so on point, especially the one about mama being happy. 😉

Ladies, be sure to share these posts with your significant others!

Any dads out there have additional tips to share? Be sure to leave them in the comments below!

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