Welcome to fatherhood! You may have been an absolute angel for the past nine months supporting your partner with back rubs, late night runs to the supermarket for ice cream, and undying love and affection, but your job is far from over.
For first time dads, this is a big moment, soak it in and savor the feeling of all the wonderful things that are ahead of you! Now open your eyes and get ready, because you need to get to work.
Fatherhood is definitely not what it used to be. The days of absentee fathering are far behind us and along with the shared responsibility of having a child comes the need to share the grunt work.
The modern dad is an evolving animal that needs to be flexible and prepared. Diaper bags are definitely not just for moms anymore and you can prep your bag for baby with a few simple additions.
The Usual Suspects – There are no stupid questions and for the sake of some of the “newer faces in the room” we will start with the basics. That means your bag needs to have diapers, bottles, and wipes. You need to be able to take care of your kid wherever and whenever. So while it might feel like you are toting around more gear than you did for the football team, keep up the good work because you are doing it right.
The New Boy Scout – Maybe you didn’t make it to Eagle Scout, but you still learned the fundamental rule. Be prepared. In addition to the things you need to take care of your baby’s basic needs, you are going to need to think ahead a little bit. Kids get messy real quick, so an extra onesie will be a lifesaver before you know it. You should also consider stashing a few extra pacifiers around since that is one thing you do not want to be caught without. Ever.
Cleaning Supplies – As we said, babies get messy but with these few items, you will be prepped for a quick clean-up no matter the situation. Consider stashing hand sanitizer and a tide-to-go pen in your bag. Keep the bottles under 3 ounces in case of unexpected travel. When you are caught unawares doing diaper duty you’ll at least be able to keep yourself clean. For unexpected vomit accidents, the tide pen will clear out the stain and also help with the smell.
Emergency Information – Being a dad is a 24/7 gig and with today’s parents traveling and sharing the parenting load more than ever, it means being able to be a parent on the go. No one gets a warning for an emergency, so by staying prepped no matter where you are, you will save on some stress. Keep your phone loaded with your kids up to date medical information and the number of your pediatrician. A trip to the emergency room is harrowing no matter what, but being able to answer all the questions about shots and vaccinations may help.
A Daily Reminder – You definitely don’t need to be “that guy” who whips out the baby pics any chance he gets. We all know who you are, and you can cut the crap whenever you want. But keeping a pic or two of your baby and partner in your wallet is a gentle, daily reminder of the seriously good stuff in life. When you’ve been pooped on, have thrown up on your clothes, and the bags under your eyes can no longer count as carry-on, it’s nice to have a reminder why it’s all worth it.
Being a dad does not need to come naturally. Having a whole new person in your life with different needs and expectations can be a little jarring but it can also be wonderful. Feeling unprepared and nervous is nothing to be ashamed of, you will be joining the ranks of so many who came before you. But you are embarking on a wonderful and magical journey that you will never regret for a moment.
Congratulations and the best of luck to you and your growing family!