By Max Jennings
Our dad diary blog is back, and this week entrepreneur Max Jennings reflects on some of the most important things he’s learnt since becoming a parent.
From mastering the art of patience to using humour to navigate the ups and downs of dad life, whether you’re an expectant parent or new mum or dad, read on to find out some key insights that will no doubt resonate with you…
Being a dad is utterly brilliant, it’s also jam-packed with milestones, routines and a lot of change.
Kids are great at keeping you on your toes, and when I became a dad I quickly realised how little I knew.
Here’s a selection of the things I’ve learnt so far…
1: The importance of sleep!
Before the birth of my first daughter, I took sleep for granted. A few late nights in a row, and you could always catch up at the weekend. Having children changes everything. Particularly in those early months, when you lose all control of when you can sleep and for how long.
Today, my pre-children self would be shocked to see me getting ready for bed at 10.20pm, losing valuable free evening hours.
With no guarantee what time our youngest plans to wake-up, I’ve since developed a healthy respect for getting a proper night’s sleep and the superpowers it gives you like energy, concentration and patience – all essential to negotiating the day ahead.
2. The need to think about the future
Not just the next couple of months, and where you’re planning your next weekend break away, but thinking literally years ahead! Since becoming a dad, I’ve started to think about my life in terms of the coming decades.
The role I want to play in my children’s lives, how I want to be healthy when they get older so I can spend more quality time with them, the places I want to take them, the type of home I want them to grow up in.
Becoming a parent puts a new perspective on how you live your life, and the changes you need to make to support their future.
3. The art of patience
My daughters are through the learning to dress themselves phase now – but that was a great example of a time when I just needed to see things through their eyes, and to understand their need to keep trying and trying until they managed to get themselves dressed.
We were late to things a lot, and we sometimes left the house with clothes on backwards, but I knew it meant a lot to them to master it!
4. Couple teamwork
Being a parent is tiring – there are no days off. What this has meant for me and my wife, is that we have to be aware of each others exhaustion levels, and to help each other out.
We share getting up with the kids, school drops-offs and managing sick days. But above this we’ve needed to just be mindful of burn-out and going that extra mile when the other needs a rest, regardless of whether it’s ‘their turn’ to do something or not.
5. To explore the world through their eyes
I am constantly amazed when my daughters learn and master new things – their wide-eyed fascination with the world is brilliant and I have learnt to keep growing that.
I love this most when we travel, and seeing new places through their eyes and the things they notice that would have completely passed me by.
6. Time is tight
As a parent at times is can feel like you have all the time in the world to fill, but in equal parts due to routines, work and life in general, it can feel like you have no time at all.
As a parent, I have learnt to be organised, to maximise my efficiency to make sure that we have more time to spend together having fun. It’s kind of a rejigging of priorities. I’m a big believer that a key part of parenting is showing up, being present and making the time my kids deserve. I’ve had to make other priorities work around that.
7. Have a sense of humour in all situations
Since I’ve become a parent I’ve learnt to laugh a lot at the comedy situations I find myself in. Whether it’s needing to commando roll out of my daughters room after finally getting her to sleep, or negotiating tactics for healthy eating with a toddler, I’ve found it important to embrace the comedy in the chaos!
The good news is there’s a lot of comedy content to work with – because kids are quite simply hilarious.
Max Jennings is the co-founder of Hoop, the free app that helps families discover what’s on locally for their kids. Downloaded by parents more than 1 million times in the UK, Hoop makes it easy to find 1,000s of local activities for babies and toddlers.