So, your other half is away and you’ve been left home alone with the baby for the first time. Read Steve’s tips for a successful daddy and baby day.
No instructions, no guidelines and no manual. Your child’s health and well being for a whole day and possibly even a night are solely in your hands. Sounds terrifying right? It certainly did to me the first time Freddie and I were left to fend for ourselves. But do not fear, there are a few things to consider which should make the experience much less stressful and hopefully, far more enjoyable for all concerned.
1. What your other half doesn’t know isn’t going to hurt them
Chances are, when you’re left alone with the baby, you’ll get something wrong. You might miss out a supposedly key part of the bedtime routine or you might forget to put his socks on when you go out. I’m going to hold my hands up to both of these terrible crimes. Until now, however, Rachael didn’t know this. All she knew until this horrifying expose was that whenever I have been left alone with Fred, everything has gone entirely to plan. Unless you need to include errors in a blog to make a point, don’t feel the need to tell your absent loved one about any gaffes you’ve made or anything you forgot to do… as long as it all worked out in the end.
2. If they can do it, you can do it
Look, we’re not talking about rocket science here. It’s your own child. Think about the key bits of a baby’s day. Wake up, have milk, get dressed, eat, play, sleep, play, eat, sleep, play, eat, read stories, have milk, bath, bed. Chuck in a number of nappy changes and a couple of trips out and you’ve got an average baby day. Doesn’t sound too hard does it? I’m going to presume that you have at least watched the above sequence taking place and if that is the case, then it should be pretty straightforward.
3. There are other people that can help
Call friends, call family… call anyone around you. If feeding your baby or putting him to sleep is proving more difficult than explaining the intricacies of string theory, don’t be afraid to call for back-up (although do bear in mind point my first point above). Parents, siblings, grandparents or friends would be more than happy to lend a hand if things get desperate. Call your other half ONLY if things go beyond desperate. The last thing they want to know when they’re enjoying a spa day with the girls is that you just cannot work out how to turn the nightlight off. They need to know that you have got this. That way they can relax and that in turn makes your life a great deal easier.
4. This could be your chance to shine
A dad’s role in raising a baby is very often more about the doing than the planning. Mum will generally have read all of the books and planned out, with military precision, how everything from bedtime to pre-bed milk will go. We’re there to do as we’re told. But what if you don’t think something is being done right? What if you’ve always thought that there’s a part of the day that could be done better? If something has been nagging away about the bedtime routine or maybe you think your baby is sleeping at the wrong times, THIS is your chance to do something about it. Before you try something new, bear in mind the small print disclaimer: trying something new without prior authorisation is, at best, risky and will only be welcomed and implemented going forward if it’s a resounding and unequivocal success.
5. All’s well that ends well
Whether you’ve tried something new, tinkered with the routine, made mistakes or needed an emergency visit from your sister, if the end result is a healthy, happy baby who’s still in one piece when your beloved other half returns from wherever it is they’ve been, you’ve won. Routines are fine but there are so many ways to raise a child and as your baby gets older you’ll find that the things you were so very nervous and precise about when he was little, aren’t so important any more. For example, with Freddie, we know that if we’re running late for bedtime, we can curtail story time a little or only spend a couple of minutes in the bath. Chances are, he’ll still sleep just fine.
I think this is a good mantra for parenting in general. We all talk to other parents and I’m sure we’ve all raised eyebrows at the way other people do some things. But the fact is, if your baby is healthy, happy and giving you enough rest to function, then you’re probably doing a pretty blooming good job.