Thursday, 15 July 2010

For New Dads - A Sample Morning

The atypical day begins at 4.30am.  The usual tricks to get little boy to sleep - check room temperature, check his temperature, give him a sip of water, give him his dummy, check nappy, smear Bonjela on gums/teeth, feed him Calpol (via excellent syringe dummy), give him a teddy to hug, sing softly to him, give him a hug, rub back/tummy for wind - aren't working.  It's too early for milk - our personal watershed is 5am as it's late enough for him to then sleep properly and last until 9.30 for his main breakfast.

This is where I am grateful for an understanding partner.  Mrs G and I operate a Tag Team approach for these situations.  One of us goes through the list of usual suspects that stop him sleeping (as above).  The other one then steps in, usually after a brief check that all the suspects have been eliminated at least once.  The conflab is often hissed with feelings of inadequacy and resentment flowing both ways, but it is still vital it happens - neither will remember much about it in the "morning" anyway!

It's vital that if you're not dealing with the baby you are resting / sleeping.  Even a twenty minute nap is important when you are on the limit.  Of course this does assume a level of confidence and competence from both partners, probably much more likely when the man stays at home in my opinion, but always possible if both want to help as much as possible.

Mrs G waves her magic wand and he's asleep in two minutes, a good sixty seconds after me.  I am truly too tired to feel peeved at not succeeding myself and am just relieved she's not lost too much sleep time before she heads off to work.

He wakes at 6am and there is no chance of him going back to sleep or even remaining quiet - I'm confident that will change, but those are the cards we're playing with at the 11 month stage.

I check his nappy - thankfully clean - carry him down to the kitchen, flick the kettle on, tip powder into the waiting bottle, put it into an oversized coffee cup (Friends-esque) and pour in the hot water.  My boy's now 24lbs and I do have to switch shoulders a few times, not to mention trusting my balance and strength as I navigate stairgate with boy and bottle.  By the time I get us both comfortable propped up in our guest bedroom and tie a cleanish muslin around his neck the milk is warm enough.

He's a star and downs the 210ml (7oz) in about 4 or 5 minutes.  I'm grateful, as other kids seem to take half an hour to do the same.

Mrs G kisses us goodbye and we're on our own.

Fundamentals have to come first - use of the wc, a shave (optional) and a shower all have to take place at double-quick speed with my son looking on.  His Bumbo (a thick potty-like seat that keeps him safely in one place) has been a godsend for this part of the day.  Alas he now presses his footballer's thighs out of it and is standing up on draping his arm over the side of the bath as I have a quick shower.  Yes, he gets a bit wet, but if I give him a few toys and sing throughout (1 Man Went to Mow is mindless enough for this part of the morning and 20 Men usually suffice), there is usually no crying.

Once that's out of the way and I throw on a t-shirt and the omnipresent combat shorts.  
Important step - at this point my house keys, phone and wallet go into my shorts - I'll save the story of what prompted this for another time.

I then carry my son down to breakfast - my breakfast - as my 4 or 5 Shredded Wheat (5 if woken before 5am!) are quickly served and carried up to the living room.  Here the tv goes on to a suitable Children's Channel and I place little boy on the far side of a wall of toys.  Then I eat as fast as humanely possible.

After that, I can pretty much accomplish anything - I'm ready to take him out whenever he needs it and I have the energy to fuel the patience needed whatever he throws at me.

It's like the airplane advice - always fit your own gas-mask first before your child's - you're pretty useless if you run out of breath / energy.

One more thing from my To Do list - I wanted to be able to cope with fewer hours sleep.  I used to really need 7 but now I'm more than happy with 6.  By Friday though, the odd 4 or 5 hour sleep does tend to bring me towards my knees.  I often need a 2 hour Saturday Siesta to catch up.  And with less sleep overall, there's no doubt I accomplish more - all thanks to my wonderful son.

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