Dad Chat – My Life As Dad

Here’s the next instalment of my Dad Chat series for you. This time it’s Jon from My Life As Dad. This blog is all about being a Dad, but also is a great space for Jon to write about whatever he wants about his own life too. As he says, he’s not just a Dad, he’s Jon too.

You’ll find links to his great blog at the bottom of the interview.

Please read on, enjoy, and check out his blog and social media.

1. Tell us about yourself and your family

Here's Jon and Raife
Here’s Jon and Raife

I’m Jon, a 26-year old blogger from South Wales and Daddy Wolf in our little wolf pack. My wife, Emma, is Mummy Wolf. And most importantly, our wonderful 9 month old Raife is our Baba Wolf….Raife being an old Norse translation of the word ‘wolf’, by the way!

Emma and I met in the same class at university and moved in together within six months. We married in September 2016 and found out we were going to be parents six months later.

2. Have you always wanted to be a Dad?

I wouldn’t say always. I went through a spell of not wanting children around the age of 16-17. But very soon after meeting Emma, I knew I wanted to be a Dad, and I knew I wanted to have children with her.

Even a year or so into our relationship, at just 19-20 years old, we had planned our children’s names (although that did change when we had Raife!).

3. What’s the best thing about being a Dad?

It may sound cliche, but it’s Raife. Having him in my life and knowing him is by far the best part. Even though he’s only 9 months old, he’s got such a happy and funny personality. He’s just so much fun to be around, I feel like he’s my little buddy. Obviously, the feeling when your baby does something you’ve been trying to teach them is amazing, but nothing compares to the excitement and happiness you feel when you come home after work and they see you and smile.

4. What’s the most challenging thing about being a Dad?

What a great photo this is!
What a great photo this is!

Not being there, definitely. Although there has been a greater focus on paternity leave in recent years, initiatives like Shared Parental Leave haven’t really worked in the UK. Raife was born in November, and I was really lucky to be able to use two weeks annual leave just before Christmas, which meant I spent five of his first eight weeks with him. But so many Dads aren’t so lucky. Two weeks is absolutely nothing. So much development happens in that first year and the chances are you’re not going to be around for a lot of it. I’m lucky if I get two hours with Raife in the evenings by the time I get home from work and he goes to bed.

I think the lack of support is a huge challenge, as well. No one asks how Dad is getting on. Understandably, health visitors and doctors ask Mum how she is getting on from a physical point of view after the birth. But no one asked me how I was coping. I suffered with post-natal depression particularly between 3 and 6 months. I didn’t even know men could get it. I knew it was a thing for women, and most women know about it. But no one ever told me about post-natal depression in men. No leaflets outlining the signs and symptoms. Nothing.

5. If you became a Dad again would you do anything differently? If so, what?

Look after myself better. After realising I had post-natal depression, I came to the understanding that I’m absolutely no good to Emma or Raife if I’m not looking after myself properly. We had a tough time while Raife went through the 4 month sleep regression. We were both exhausted. I saw myself as the least important. I thought to myself ‘run yourself into the ground if you have, if that’s what it takes for Em to get some more sleep’. I would try desperately to get Raife to stop crying, and get him to sleep. But as soon as I put him down in his cot, he’d wake up, and eventually, Em would have to take over anyway.

I realised that wasn’t doing anyone any good. During that bad spell, Emma and I agreed to just ask each other for help when we needed it. No more ‘I’ll keep going so the other one can sleep’. When I started to take better care of myself, doing things I enjoy to relax, I started to feel much better and more positive.

I’ll definitely be doing that when baby No.2 comes along.

6. What advice would you give to new dads?

Exactly what I said in the last answer. Look after yourself. Talk about how you’re feeling. Ask for help when you need it. You’re absolutely no use to anyone if you’re not looking after yourself. I always thought it was my duty to sacrifice myself entirely for my family, but that’s definitely not the case. If you really want to be the best Dad you can, you have to take care of yourself first.

7. Social media links…

You can find my blog as, and @JonathanCDavies for Twitter and Instagram.

There You Have It…

Thanks for taking part in my Dad Chat series Jon! The answer to question four is really interesting. There needs to be more support for dads after birth but it’s pretty much non-existent at the moment.

Look out for another interview next week.

For previous interviews check out my ‘Guest Posts‘ category.

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