Listen and learn with the new podcast for first time dads
Any man who has gazed lovingly down into the eyes of a newborn son or daughter and thought “what the heck do I do now?” will have quickly grasped an unhappy truth: there is less good advice around for new dads as there is for new mums.
A lot less, in fact, though perhaps that’s inevitable. After all, mums have to face the aftermath of childbirth and the onset of feeding. Despite attempts to shift ingrained mindsets, most dads head back to work a week or two after their child’s birth. Meanwhile most mums stay at home with the baby.
But that’s not always the case, and nor does it mean men don’t need some serious insider info too. Mixing work with a new baby creates its own particular challenges. What’s more, many dads want to be far more involved in all aspects of childcare than previous generations, even if it often means flying (feeding, changing….) blind.
You are not alone…
Which is where the First Time Dads podcast comes in. Created by Daily Mirror journalists Richard Innes and Steve Myall, the First Time Dads podcast is a repository of good advice amd shared experience presented as a chat between two confused and befuddled first time dads, along with occasional guests. If there is an overarching message to the series (now 14 episodes in at time of writing) it’s this: you are not alone.
“It’s all about that solidarity for me,” says Rich, whose son, Ben, will be one in March. “The pressure to be a perfect parent is immense these days – it’s crippling. We wanted to create something which showed other dads that a) it’s OK to make mistakes, b) it’s OK to get frustrated and c) everyone else is going through the exact same thing – regardless of what the world of Instagram might suggest.
“The two of us were regularly having conversations about fatherhood in the office and we thought, ‘Why not have this chat with a microphone in front of us?’”
Steve, father of 20-month-old Jackson, adds: “We want to offer a place where men can hear two dads talking about what they have been feeling and thinking about in private. We felt there is loads of mum oriented content but nothing specifically for dads.”
Steve has been a daily and Sunday newspaper journalist for 20 years. Until five years ago, Rich was the editor of a high-profile lad mag (“living a life of beer, football and glamour models”). Until recently, they exercised a measure of control over their own time, and could be forgiven for considering themselves successful, able men.
Then they had kids.
“I didn’t fully appreciate how all consuming it is and how I would be happy to change my lifestyle,” says Steve. “I didn’t realise that you have to be selfless in every aspect of your behaviour if you really want to do it week in week out.”
Rich agrees: “Before I became a dad myself, it used to drive me mad how patronising other parents can (inadvertently) be – that idea that you can’t really understand what it’s like to have a kid until you ACTUALLY have a kid. Now I see that really is true. It’s changed me completely. I also expected to be one of those parents who was constantly planning things, and looking ahead at what was to come. There’s just no time to do that – you have to take each day as it comes.”
As well as the universal theme of never having enough time, the podcast regularly discusses issues that will be familiar to readers of DaddiLife. Subjects range from:
- that old devil called dad guilt
- to supporting a new mum
- to taking the first tentative steps towards a (much reduced) post-baby social life.
Experts and celebrities are thrown into the mix. In one episode, a top paediatrician talks about what dads can do when their babies are unwell; in another, ex England cricketer Freddie Flintoff reminisces about early family Christmases in far flung lands, when celebrations were rudely cut short by the Boxing Day test match.
In its own way, the First Time Dads podcast is a celebration of dads who want to do more. We might not know exactly what to do. We might not always be all that good at whatever it turns out to be. But we are determined to be deeply involved in our children’s lives, right from the off. That’s a good thing, but it comes at a price.
“My old man was pretty hands on,” says Rich. “But he’s told me himself that he doesn’t envy me and my brothers. We definitely have more pressure on our shoulders to be both the traditional breadwinner AND the loving, ever-present father. It often feels like an impossible task.”
Still, it’s a task that resources like the First Time Dads podcast and, dare we say, DaddiLife, can help to make just a little easier. As for Steve and Rich, they’re happy to admit they’ve made lots of mistakes in those early months and years. But they’re getting there, slowly. Just like the rest of us.
“I’m doing ok. I could do with a bit of mindfulness sometimes and taking time out to look after myself as well as my wife and son,” says Steve.
Rich agrees: “My wife also thinks I need to stop beating myself up – I’m constantly worried I’m not doing enough.”
Which is nice to hear, because that’s pretty much how we all feel.