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26th Sep 2018

The new dad survival kit: top tips from dads (who were once terrified too)

Patrick McCarry

You are supposed to be the tough, reliable, unflappable one. Steady as a rock. Wax on, wax off. On the inside, though, you are bricking it.

Becoming a father for the first time promises to be the craziest, funniest, most nerve-wracking experience of your life. If you thought that toolbox you made in woodwork class was something to cherish, this will blow it out of the water. In the best way possible.

The nine month wait is akin to Ireland versus Germany in World Cup 2002. You can’t really remember much of it but know you had a knot in your stomach for the longest time. Then, all of a sudden, it is ON and, without even knowing it, you step up. There is late, crazy drama, a delivery, a cry, maybe a cartwheel and there you have it.

You are a Dad.

If you’re lucky – like Colm Meaney in The Snapper – you’ll get to toast your child’s arrival. Then… fatherhood really begins.

Handily enough, and with the help of some wonderful fathers, we have compiled the ultimate New Dad Survival Kit.

Pat McCarry – Sports Journalist

“I’ll babysit sometime”: If anyone, within ear-shot, offers the words ‘babysit’ or ‘help’, get their name, number and tie them down for a time and date.

Cursing: Do it if you need to blow off steam, just don’t do it too much. Looking after babies is tough and you will be in at the deep end. Those friends and relatives that you think are handling parenthood like pros? They curse too.

Paddy McKenna – Broadcast Director

Muslins: I spent the first three months calling these ‘muslims’ and trying to figure out what they had in common. So yeah, these are magic rectangles of material that can be used to mop up vomit, wee and tears – either the baby’s or your own. They can also be draped across a pram to keep the sun off the young master’s porcelain skin or used as a peekaboo screen. Peekaboo is *the craic* by the way. Don’t spare the peekaboo. They love it. Muslins can also be used to hypnotise a belligerent babby merely by dangling it in front of their face. Gets them every time. Suckers.

Nappies: You’ll need these. I know someone who toilet trained their young fella from 3 months old by holding them over the toilet bowl once an hour every hour for a week. It worked. New parents are batshit crazy.

Changing table: I got one that doubles up as a bath and honestly I’m so pleased with it’s usefulness that I sometimes gaze at it and tear up. That could be the sleep deprivation but it’s the best thing I’ve bought. Apart from the muslims obviously. Buy bails of them.

Constant attention: Babies are easy. All they require is 24-hour attention and round-the-clock entertainment. Seems obvious but until you actually have one you can’t understand how easily bored these tiny human beings can be. But look, when they start laughing, you start laughing. Everyone’s a winner.

Music: Music is a magnificent distractor, again it seems stupidly obvious but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much our buck loves it. That said, the play-mat music can never be deleted from my brain hard-drive but he loves it, so it’s basically Bohemian Rhapsody as far as I’m concerned.

Gareth Makim – Journalist

The grandfolk: Assuming they are still fit enough to pitch in, accept every bit of help on offer from granny and granddad, even though you’ll probably feel guilty about placing demands on them. If you have doubts, remember all the time you spent with your grandparents and realise the real motive behind it.

Green Poo: Nobody told us about the green, looks-like-it-might-be-radioactive, poo. Turns out it’s perfectly normal and can simply be a side-effect of teething. Would have been handy to know that before getting the Hazmat suit out, though.

Crumbs of knowledge: If you are the first of your friends to become a Dad, milk it for everything it’s worth, especially when the time comes for them. You will become the Swami, the guru, the grizzled expert in all things baby. It’s not like they can prove you’re full of s***.

Talcum powder: Is your friend. No matter how gory the battle on the changing table/bathroom floor/boot of the car has been, talc is there for you.

Baby wipes: Store them everywhere. You’ll thank us later. Every room in the house. Your car. Your backpacks. The shopping trolley. The garden. The pram. Years later and we still find the odd dried-out packet.

Get used to muzak: The supermarket experience changes utterly as you spend hours in the baby aisles. You will spend a fortune on nappies and become better at division than any time since your Leaving Cert as you struggle to work out the best per-nappy deals. And then you will buy 100 at a time.

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