Will my experiences as an uncle make me a good dad?

I can’t lie…I think of myself as being a pretty awesome uncle; my nephews’ and nieces’ “absolute favourite” according to my child-laden older siblings. But can your experiences as an uncle ever truly prepare you for the trials and tribulations of fatherhood?

Let me start by saying that I am somewhat of a special case. Being the proud uncle of nearly a football team worth of kids under the age of nine, I’ve learnt a huge range of skills that – WARNING: SMUG ALERT – most first-time dads can only dream of.

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Through nearly 10 years’ experience of babysitting, bathing and bribing these little tikes (often looking after up to three at a time), I’ve changed hundreds of dirty nappies, learnt how to quickly calm a crying baby and ‘tantruming’ toddler and I’ve even eaten numerous Christmas dinners, one-handed, while balancing a baby on my lap.

I’m no longer afraid to make a fool out of myself in public for a child’s amusement, I have a wide repertoire of different character voices for story time and have practically joined the Peppa Pig fan club (although I must admit I’ll never get my head around the creepy YouTube series ‘Baby Alive‘ that my nieces are currently obsessed with…a terrifying watch).

And don’t think I’ve been taking the easy route, giving in to their every demand for chocolate or their attempts to stay up past their bedtime (to the detriment of their exhausted parents when they return home from a much needed night off).

After watching the excellent (and some might say, surprisingly sexy) Super Nanny – on more occasions than I’d like to admit – I’m a firm believer in the ‘naughty step’, of strict routines and bedtimes, as well as stopping negative behaviour patterns before they become a permanent fixture in the child’s life.

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But even with all of this experience, I know that fatherhood itself will be an entirely different ball game.

Because unlike my time as an uncle, being a dad is so much more than just babysitting – it’s a lifetime of love, guidance, stress, joy, bank rolling and unwavering support. Of course I love my nephews and nieces unconditionally and would do all of these things for them without question, but being an uncle is effectively just a part time job, for no more than a few hours at a time.

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When you become a father, you can’t hand back a crying baby for someone else to calm it down.

As an uncle you don’t suffer from serious sleep deprivation as a result of their nightly feeding schedule, while you aren’t the one rocking them back to sleep after they’ve had a bad dream.

They don’t call out your name when they hurt themselves or jump for joy every single time you walk through the door.

Sure, the skills you learn as an uncle may help you to look after a child for a day, but nothing can ever truly prepare you for what life as a new dad will bring.

Because fatherhood is not a temporary contract but rather a full time career…a gruelling, terribly paid, yet hugely rewarding job that you’ll have for life.

And, personally, I can’t wait to start. Just 30 weeks and four days left to go…

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s blog. As always I would love to hear your stories too, so please do share your experiences of your uncle/aunt to parent transition in the comments section below. Did you think you knew it all? What surprised or shocked you most when your baby finally arrived?

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Super Busy MUm
Diary of an imperfect mum

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10 Comments

  1. 28th February 2016 / 9:28 am

    I think if your thinking this much about being a good Dad, you’re already assured a seat on the great Dads bus of awesome. But you can get all of the tips, advice and hints you can get to make you prepared, but at the end of the day – your newborn could throw you a curveball and thats where you make it all work for you guys. No two babies are the same, no two experiences of newborns are the same….just roll with it, make your own rules and you’ll rock it all either way! Great post. Thanks so much for linking up with #MadMidWeek

  2. Morgan Prince
    25th February 2016 / 10:45 am

    It sounds like you were a wonderful brother to have around! It’s great that you’ve had such practice but yes, you’re right, nothing can prepare you for being a parent.
    I didn’t have any experience when I became a mum for the first time, I was TERRIFIED. It was draining, tough, and SO rewarding. The love that flows through your entire body whenever your baby smiles is indescribable. You have so much to look forward to and I’m sure you’ll make a great dad!
    #FamilyFun

    • 25th February 2016 / 11:49 am

      Thanks so much Morgan – I really hope so!!

  3. 25th February 2016 / 8:44 am

    I was the same.. loads of PRACTICAL experience. However, the emotional side you can never be prepared for and that’s what will hit you most probably and the lack of sleep… KILLER! Good luck
    #familyfun

    • 25th February 2016 / 9:08 am

      Excellent points – the lack of sleep is going to be a total killer (especially for my wife who is NOT a morning person!!

  4. 25th February 2016 / 1:09 am

    I did it the other way – I just became an aunt for the first time a few months ago, but have been a mum for nearly 3 years – so I don’t really know. Sounds like you’ve had a lot of experience from caring for your nieces and nephews, which I’m sure will be helpful with practicalities! On the whole, though, I think you’re probably right – I don’t think auntying or uncling or even grandparenting is ever really the same as parenting, because it is, as you say, only ever for a limited period. & also you’re not REALLY taking responsibility – the big decisions are not yours, you follow the parents’ choices and rules (mostly!), you don’t have to make the calls yourself. That other TV super nanny (the one who is not actually ‘Super Nanny’), who has admitted to finding becoming a mother hard and something she was unprepared for I think demonstrates that it is never quite the same, however much child experience and expertise you have. Still, the plus of that is, regardless of whether your experiences help or not, you will be just as prepared and just as good as every other parent out there – everyone is finding their way with their particular kid(s).

    And, most importantly, whether you have gained helpful experience for becoming a dad or not from all these nieces and nephews, what you DO have here (at least in a few years) is SO many babysitters! And they all owe their favourite uncle! #MMWBH

    • 25th February 2016 / 9:09 am

      Such amazing feedback – thank you so much! And great call about the babysitters…definitely deserve some payback for all the hours I’ve put in over the years!!

  5. Kate Tunstall, Refined Prose
    24th February 2016 / 6:20 pm

    Sounds to me like you’re definitely halfway to having it sussed. Not that we ever really suss it as parents. Halfway to winging it then. Best of luck – but trust me, the next 30 weeks will D-R-A-G! (Oh and a small piece of advice from me to you: have the holiday. I know you’re being wise and saving like crazy, which is very sensible; but if you can possibly stretch to it – have the holiday. You won’t have this opportunity again for YEARS. And you won’t truly appreciate your current freedom till that holiday is both necessary and impossible.)
    #MMWBH

    • 24th February 2016 / 6:55 pm

      Great advice Kate, thanks so much! I’ve been trying to downplay the whole babymoon concept for a while but you’re right, we really should get away one last time as just a couple. You’ve twisted my arm and the wife will be very pleased you did!!

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