Practical Fatherhood: Early Lessons, Volume III

Photo Sharing and Updates

One of my biggest failures of pre-planning for the baby was deciding on how to do updates and photos. When you have a baby there's all sorts of family who you want to keep up to date, with photos and updates.

My priorities are different than most people's. I wanted to minimize the amount our baby ended up on Facebook, and generally, keep our privacy as a family and as a dad. I didn't really think about how I wanted to accomplish this until after the baby arrived, so I've ended up with a bit of a bodged solution, involving a password protected blog, iCloud photo sharing, and a mailing list.

My recommendation to other future fathers is to think it through better than I did!

Lock In

So how did we choose our baby bottles? I am a little ashamed to say that it wasn't thorough research and decision making. Nope, what happened was that we got a free bottle when buying some maternity clothes. After that, we stuck with that brand because it was easy, and they formed a set.

There's an aspect here of lock-in: Small choices at the beginning, and suddenly you have a dozen bottles of the same brand, two dozen nipples, the bottle warmer, and the sterilizer.

Mostly my point here is that you may find these things snowball.

Prosocial Presence

Messaging applications often provide “presence” support, where your contacts are annotated to show if they’re available, busy, or whatnot.

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When you’re working, there’s some tradeoffs with presence information: It can act as a social forcing function which affects people’s work life balance. There’s a been some pushback on presence.

Being home with the baby, I’ve been thinking a bit about presence for socialization though. I really wish there was a way for me to say “Hey! I’m totally open for video chatting with someone", or “Hey, I’m totally open to texting!”.

Maybe it’s me, but there’s an awkwardness to cold-calls, but I would love it if I was feeling like chatting with someone, and could put it out there in the world, and someone might just call me.

I feel like if this was done right, it would be a way of creating a ‘social media’ that’s more synchronous, but also more personal and fun.

Some Better-than-Bad news on Climate Change

Climate Change scares the shit out of me. It should scare the shit out of you too. But, sometimes I spot some good news stories that help me keep the hope up.

Let me share some of them:

I created a category for this, as I think I’m going to try to write more about this.

Practical Fatherhood: Early Lessons, Volume II

Disposable for Sanity is OK!

We have grand plans to switch to cloth diapers (we have a drawer full of them!) but I am super happy with our decision to go disposable near the beginning for sanity.

Cloth diapers may be the more environmentally friendly way to go, they are also way more labour intensive. I am so happy we started with disposable to be easy on ourselves. In general, there's all kinds of places where you can spend money for ease, and in my opinion, if that option is open to you, I would encourage you to take it near the beginning. There’s already a million and one things happening, so be kind to yourself.

Physical Health is Important

Keep your own physical health in mind! This is a marathon not a race!

The first weeks one of the things I struggled with most was pain. My feet were killing me. The baby settled best when she was walked around, but this meant I was on my feet all the time. On hard floors, my flat feet were doing me no favours.

One of the best choices I made was to pull out my gym shoes and wear them whenever I was expecting to be on my feet.

Later we discovered that bouncing on a yoga ball was also an effective soother, but this came at the cost of back pain after a bit.

In hindsight, one of the best things I did last year was spent a lot of time at he gym working on my back, in particular my upper back.

Earplugs

Have earplugs you like.

Probably should have just shoved this in the last update under sleep, as you'll need them to make sure you can get enough sleep. Even if you know intellectually your partner is taking care of the baby, you baby screaming will definitely keep you up, or wake you up.

Practical Fatherhood: Early Lessons, Volume I

Man, there's so much you learn on the fly becoming a father. You can take classes, read, and plan, and in the end... there's so much more to it, so much you didn't anticipate, so much more you need to know.

You Don't Know What You're Going to Need

We had a list of things we knew we needed before the baby came. Went out, and got all those things, and thought we were prepared. Hoo-boy, were we wrong. Turns out, you don't know what you're going to need until you need it.

There's a whole shopping list of things we ended up buying after baby was born.

Accept it!

Bottles

If you're dealing with bottles, at all, save yourself water and energy: Go buy yourself a bottle warmer and a bottle sterilizer.

While you can do things using pots, burners, stoves, you quickly discover that it's an enormous use of water an energy. Using a pot for sterilization means boiling a few litres of water. Using a sterilizer; 100ml.

Nutrition

The first two weeks in particular, you're adapting to the crazy sleep schedule, you're adapting to the demands of a baby. It's so easy to get your nutrition wrong: don't.

We were really prepared for dinners: Andrea cooked a bunch of meals that we froze for eating. What we were unprepared for were snacks.

Make sure you have snacks you can eat in the middle of the night that have protein; don't just down a juicebox or a couple slices of bread.Making smoothies with protein powder, and pepperoni sticks turned into a lifesaver for me.

Sleep

So it turns out that it's really easy to not get enough sleep with a baby. I would highly, highly recommend that you track how much sleep you're getting.

You can see the crazy polyphasic sleep of parenthood here. This is week four, and so we’ve hit a bit of rhythm as you can see though.

You can see the crazy polyphasic sleep of parenthood here. This is week four, and so we’ve hit a bit of rhythm as you can see though.

I started tracking after two weeks, and it quickly became clear I wasn’t getting enough, and it was very likely neither was Andrea. Just seeing it made it possible to work on it.

I use Sleep Diary, a pretty no frills app that let’s me hit a button when I get into bed, and hit it again when I get out of bed. Good enough!

Cognitive Heatsinks

I finally got around to watching this Clay Shirky talk I had added to Pocket a few months ago (was something to walk around the living room to while calming a fussy baby). 

It’s a short and good watch, but a high level summary is that there is an enormous amount of cognitive energy that we have historically burnt off in the form of passive entertainment (or drinking). He foresaw a future where even a small fraction of that energy could be harnessed for great value; Wikipedia being the most successful version of this. 

The talk is ten years old though, so it’s interesting to look back and see where we went.

It seems like he missed the ways in which participatory systems would themselves be ‘cognitive heatsinks’. Social media, while it has some aspects that are valuable, seem balanced by negative outcomes that we didn’t see from sitcoms. 

Still great talk, and inspiring enough that I bothered to write this very post.