Am I a self-serving jerk?

The birth of my beautiful child is just around the corner. My intention is to thrive as a dad and as an individual during this point in my life. And I want to take as many impending Dads with me on the journey.

Ok, I’m gonna level with you. I’m creating this program partially…ok, 50/50…alright, mostly because I’m afraid that when my child enters this world, I’m going to develop man boobs quicker than you can say ‘got milk’? The only upside to that situation is that I might be able to help out in the breastfeeding department.

Regardless, I do not want to walk – or should I say waddle – down the path that so many of my dearest friends have travelled over the years.  They have sacrificed their health and sanity for their child and wife.  Many of you might be thinking to yourself, “Who is this jerk? If they handed out licences to have children, this fella is going to the back of the line. And staying there!”

Just stick with me. Hang in there for a minute and let me explain myself. There’s a reason that airlines make parents place the oxygen masks on themselves before they apply the mask to their children. I am going to be no good to anybody if after seven days of being a father my eyelids are held up only by the ground and I’m finding that episodes of The Bachelor are making me cry more than my baby.

While I can try to empathise with the pressures associated with motherhood –     especially during the first few months – I will never truly understand them. Motherhood appears to be relentless and the support that a new mum receives from her partner is paramount to raising their child and developing their relationship with one and another. This is exactly why I am openly a little intimidated by this upcoming chapter of my life. 

From what I understand, the first two weeks of parenthood are spent in a cave of tears, poop and pee. Then we need to deal with the baby. Changing, feeding, and growing familiar with what they are actually trying to communicate. Two weeks to establish a language between yourself and a child who has one syllable to their repertoire, which is WHHHHHAAAAAAA. Challenge much?

Two weeks go by and mum stays home with the little tot while you’re expected to go back to work and provide food and shelter to the people who mean the world to you. Yet, the world keeps on turning and from what I understand, this has happened to quite a few people in the past. And it will continue to happen in the future. That’s right. We are not the first people to have a child.  I love my wife beyond words and would do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to ease her difficulties during this parenting process, which is exactly why I need to take care of me. Remember the oxygen mask? As the non-birthing part of this equation, I need to delineate between offering emotional/practical support and martyrdom.

I have been working in the health and wellbeing field for 15 years now. I know what happens when people stop moving, start eating poorly and become sleep deprived.  They change, and not for the better. Like I said before: the motivation for this program is somewhat fueled by self-interest. I’m writing this program for me, because I know I’m going to need it. When times get tough, I know I won’t be thinking lucidly. I’m going to need a strategy, a game plan to revert back to. I also happen to know that there are millions of people like me out who don’t have a toolkit to look back on when the liquid green baby poo hits the fan.

So, how can I achieve this without waking up and seeing my wife hovering over me with a steak knife muttering sadistically, “I hope you slept well sweetheart”! Yep. Creepy.

Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.  

So, here’s the plan…….

1.     Make a plan. It doesn’t matter if I deviate from the plan, as long as I have a starting point.

2.     Establish clear communication with my partner. Begin a dialogue about what might seem to be appropriate times to train.

3.     Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. Be vulnerable enough to accept helping hands.

4.     Design the ideal training schedule. They need to be local. Short, sharp and effective.

5.     Have a plan B

6.     Have a plan C

7.     Meal prep. (This could be where friends and family come in). This is huge. Organisation will really come into play at this point.

8.     Manage sleep strategically and intelligently. Create a list of strategies, hacks, nutrition and supplements that will maximize my limited sleep as well as give me energy for the day ahead.

 

There…. That doesn’t sound that tough? Does it?  

Help me help you

It’s precisely two weeks until our child comes into this world. I’ve explained all of the potential worries and concerns I have about my altered lifestyle in previous posts. However, there is one aspect of my life that I’m going to need to draw significant attention to: movement, sweating and physical strength. These are things that I’ve identified with for most of my life. Training is a meditation for me. Taking this away will be taking a part of who I am away.

“Help me help you.” That’s exactly what I said to myself when I looked in the mirror this morning. I was in essence speaking to my current self, pleading to satisfy my future self. Before you ask me if I put a little magic mushrooms in my coffee, let me explain. There needs to be strong intention behind how I am going to live me life as a new dad. Yes, it is going to be challenging, but I need a strong game plan, one that is flexible and one that will satisfy my need for movement and strength, EVEN WITH A BABY.


So how am I going to succeed where so many have failed before me? My initial plan is to make it easy, so easy that I will really struggle to screw it up.  Success in any chosen goal is a sensitive exercise in psychology. Set the bar too high for yourself, and you may fail your first task. Haven’t you ever committed to a new healthy eating protocol, only to accidentally get drunk and find yourself at McDonald’s? If you have, I hear you. If you haven’t, I don’t believe you. I am predicting that the experience of having my first child will highly enjoyable, albeit time consuming. I’m choosing to take it easy on myself for the first week, then build up slowly in tasty little bite sized increments like those McChicken nuggets that I found myself eating late on a Saturday night four days into my new healthy eating plan.

Tim Ferriss believes in “rigging the game so you can win it”. It’s an interesting concept, especially at a time where we are so hard on ourselves and have such high expectations. Tim uses the writing of his own book as an example. “The blank page is intimidating for a lot of people” he says. “I was told at one point, your goal should be two crappy pages per day”.  He is setting the bar deliberately low to avoid having to berate himself for not completing his perfect masterpiece.

 

This brings me back to me and the mirror, where I will tell myself to “help me help you”. In essence, I’m requesting a little help from future me to keep things simple and achievable until I get the hang of not being the centre of my own universe. If I’m too hard on myself and create unachievable goals in a world I don’t know, I may very well find myself with an unchanged nappy in one hand, a pack of half eaten chicken nuggets in the other, and the grease and special sauce of a Big Mac running down my chin. It’s hard to recover from something like that!

So here’s the deal. I’m going to complete 50 squats a day for the first week of fatherhood. That’s it! They can be completed in sets of 10, five, one, or whenever my child stops pooing and puking . It doesn’t matter. As long as the volume is there.

Just to reiterate:


PROGRAM WEEK 1

·      50 x Body weight squats per day.

·      Rest as much as possible

 

Do you like Seinfeld?

It’s five weeks out from the due date and more questions are coming up for me.

I’ll get to them later. But for now, I thought it was pertinent to bring up time management issues that are coming to a head for me.

Which leads me to ask, do you like Seinfeld? Well, my father does and by default our family needed to, or else we needed to find another home. When I was between the ages of eight and 16, my father made me watch every episode with him, tape them on VCR (remember those) and pause the ad breaks for his future viewing pleasure. Now Chinese sweat shops were not as widely known about back then, but I think I may have a reasonable chance of getting some back pay for the years of service I committed to the great man Jerry and of course, my dear father.

 

There is a very specific episode that has been coming up for me lately. It’s the ‘Independent George’ episode. George feels like his worlds are colliding when his friend Elaine begins to hang out with his fiancé, and he fears that his independent life will cease to exist.  This has really been niggling at me lately. How long do I have until ‘Independent Pauly’ ceases to exist.? What do I do about this imminent collapse of my reality, as I know it?

Do I go out for dinner and drinks with my friends every night before the baby comes? I’ve floated this with my beautiful wife and she surprisingly didn’t appear as receptive to the idea as I first anticipated (pause for laugh). It occurred to me that one of the major things I am going to miss out on in the near future is quality one-on-one time with my wife. 

This further brings into focus the fact that time is going to be of the essence pretty much all the time during the first six months.  If I want to remain fit and healthy, I need to get creative when it comes to exercise. I have already begun devising a plan.  The main components are:

a)    Father Flow Home Blasts: At-home high intensity workouts that create a metabolic effect on your body with 7-10 minutes

b)   Father Flow Work Tremors: Every hour at work complete one simple yet highly effective fitness task

c)    Incidental exercise: Where possible, replace commuting by car with bike riding or walking

 

These three simple approaches will form the basis for maintaining both my body and my sanity.

I'm Scared

Lately I have been thinking about how lucky I am to have the life I lead. I create my own schedule, I can go out whenever I want, and I can exercise when the mood suits.

These thoughts have been swimming around in my head for a very good reason: it’s exactly two months until my first child’s due date.

It has been a long seven months to date. Excitement, joy, love, weariness and hormones. Ohhhhhh the hormones! The ride has been exceptional. My wife and I have grown closer with the knowledge that we are creating something together. It’s pretty damn incredible to think about the genius of nature.

As we draw into the last two months, I seem to be hearing the same things over and over from fathers I come into contact with:  

“Get all your sleep now”

“Say goodbye to those guns”

“There is no ‘YOU TIME’ anymore”.

I would be lying if I said these comments didn’t make me sweat.

I would also be lying if I said I hadn’t considered getting on a one-way red eye flight to Fiji without looking back.

But here I am eight weeks away from a life-changing event. I’m not the first to be in this position and I won’t be the last. As a matter of fact, there is nothing special or unique about my situation at all when you think about it. Men have been confronted with these questions for millennia. My challenge, therefore, is to re-frame this situation from ‘scary’ to ‘challenging’.

The commentators are right. My life will never be the same. I know I have a little human to care for, to nurture and to be a role model for.

That is my real challenge. To live a life that my child will be inspired by.

Here’s to the last eight weeks of this chapter of my life. Then I join you fellas.
 

WISH ME LUCK!