Euphoria, excitement, anticipation, trepidation. Any other dads-to-be familiar with these kind of emotions when first hearing the momentous news?
For me, the overwhelming feeling was one of happiness and joy but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some nervousness in there as well. I put this down to the realisation that in a few months time, my wife and I would be responsible for a tiny human. A little bundle of life entirely dependent on us to grow and survive.
When you’ve worried in the past about whether you’ve overwatered a house plant, things start to go up a few levels and fast!
But then you’ve got nine months of build-up and preparation. That’s a long time, not just for your partner (who will rightly remind you on several occasions that she’s the one growing the child inside her!), but also for you as a soon to be dad. During this time my thoughts turned to any number of baby related scenarios. How many nappies is enough? What happens if he just doesn’t sleep at all? When is too early to test his hand-eye coordination?
My brother-in-law recommended I give Commando Dad: Basic Training a read and having done so, I’m now suggesting it to anyone and everyone I know who is also starting out on this journey.
The author Neil Sinclair, a former Royal Engineer Commando and now stay at home dad to three children, compiled the book when he realised there were so few resources available to new dads.
Written in the style of a military handbook, it is small enough not to feel like it’ll be a slog to get through, but crucially big enough to contain all the vital advice and information you need.
It is essentially a training manual, with briefs and objectives guiding you from the preparation stage, through those first 24 hours with your baby and beyond. Each section has a top tip, on everything from bottle feeding to cleaning the stump of the umbilical cord. Something I’ll admit I wasn’t even aware was a thing before reading!
Everything is caveated by Sinclair as what has worked best for him, recognising that no two dad experiences are exactly the same but that there are common challenges and scenarios that, when broken down into achievable smaller tasks can become less daunting and let’s face it, less life threatening than they otherwise might have been!
With none of the scientific jargon or lecturing tone that you might find in online ‘help’ articles, it is actually a very enjoyable read and one that you’ll probably find you revisit again from time to time, maybe while tearing your hair out at 3am in the morning.
I entered the book fairly clueless and left feeling almost prepared. Which believe me, is no small achievement!