I’ve been blogging for a couple of years solid now. Firstly, when I kicked off Kangaroo Dad on Blogger, and recently, the reformat and redesign, cum relaunch on a self hosted WordPress site.
I have received criticism over that last couple of years, almost all of it positive. Its been positive as I am not high enough on a certain level of people’s attention to start attracting trolls. Give it time and that will come.
Most recently, I have been getting criticism from fellow digital producers, those who work on the internet, such as other bloggers, web designers, content and copyright creators. Its been a good experience and its helped me reflect with the work I do for the blog. As well as with the future direction I want to take this blogging thing I do.
I am no expert when it comes to website design so I have been seeking those who are. I have been tweaking, working and dabbling here and there, yet I find I don’t have the patience, time, or the want, to learn it and spend time making those changes myself. I am happy with the dabbling I have achieved so far. It has at least helped me with the abilities I have now and how to explain to others, the design I want and what changes I need, for my blog.
The criticism I have received, has been generally helpful in nature and so far has been this;
Your Home page on your blog has category titles, but nothing under them (no articles showing, hmmmm)
Some of your older articles are hard to read (the grammar is worse than I imagined, oh dear) Your site is hard to read on a mobile device (I must have a non responsive theme for my wordpress)
Your About us section….doesn’t tell me much about you (did I not fill this out appropriately?)
Your contact us, broken? unfilled? how do I reach you?
How do I join your mailing list? (I hate my current Avante theme, which doesn’t play nice with signing up on an email list and will change it as its NOT DOING WHAT I WANT)
So, some of these critiques are easy to rectify. Some will give me a reflection on how I want to make a change after receiving some feedback.
There is another important aspect too. On occasion, you will receive feedback and it will be an expression of someone’s opinion. Do you make a change because someone made a suggestion, although most likely helpful? No, not always. There are many factors to consider when receiving feedback. For example, the six suggestions above will be changing. They are items, I want to change and am currently (as of Nov 2014) aware of them, and I am not happy with their status. Changes are coming.
But what do you do when you receive criticism? Especially if it is in relation to your blogging?
1. Listen to the other person, what exactly are they trying to convey to you?
2. Ask questions on reflection, you may be getting information, because of that persons own experience or their expertise.
3. Are you finding out about a gap in your own knowledge?
4. Someone may have picked up on a glaring mistake that you did not see (I am guilty as charged)
5. Some people, are just enthusiastic about you, or your work and want to see you do better.
6. Someone is having a bad day and has decided to deride your blog (you just happen to be todays target)
7. Sometimes people will just want to get an extreme reaction as a response (trolls). This is always extreme, and the criticism is NEVER helpful.
When the criticism is you receive is like the above, (except point 6 and 7 which help no one) take stock, look at the information you have received and see if it can help you. Whether you make changes on your work as a reflection and taking action on receiving criticism, is always your choice.
How do you take criticism? Do you stop and reflect? Or are you one to get your back up and become defensive? Tell me in the comments below.
This group consists of Dads from around the world with members from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the USA to name just a few.
In the group we chat about blokey stuff but mainly about being first time Dads or veteran Dads, the world of parenthood and subsequent blogging that comes with the territory. We laugh. We cry. We virtual handshake and pat each other on the back. We swap stories, ask for advice and simply hang out.
Before my daughter was born, this blog and my previous blog did not exist. I was not a member of any groups focused on fatherhood on or offline, and had never heard the term “Aussie Daddy Bloggers”.
When I found out we were pregnant I felt scared beyond belief and yet super excited all at the same time. I was constantly thinking “Will I be able to earn enough money to support my family?”, “Will I be a good dad?”, “What hobbies and daily interests will I have to give up or curb?”. I tell you, the feelings of dread, wonderment, loss, panic, excitement and fear were suffocating at times. Could my life really change that much?
I guess I just didn’t understand my emotions. I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt the way I felt and having little resources or knowledge about raising a child didn’t help. It’s a generalised but recognised fact that when it comes to deep and meaningful conversations, guys tend to shut up shop and put on a façade.
Rarely are men open to expressing their feelings I guess for fear of appearing weak, not in control or feeling like an outcast. I wasn’t any different. So at first it was awkward and difficult to talk to other blokes about the meaning of life and love. In real life away from my blog, I have a small group of quality mates, but not all are dads. I wondered if they would comprehend the sleepless nights or the excitement over a baby’s first poo in 3 days. How could I share my worry about whether I was putting a nappy on too tight or if the baby was rugged up too much to sleep during winter? I wondered how to find the right balance between time to raise my baby, ways to support my family, be there for my wife and yet try to attend to my own needs and see my friends. In my mind, I was trying so hard to hold onto my old life yet I was so excited about my new life and couldn’t work out how to mesh the two together.
A Loving Family
Growing up, my own father was around for the first 3 years of my life and circumstances dictated that I didn’t see him again until I was 15. For me personally, not having a male figure involved in my early years has made me realise the importance of being involved in a close knit family, so I want to be there for my daughter. Later when the relationship between my father and I grew, I learnt from him in many ways and he then taught me about respecting others beliefs, values and decisions. These are traits which I really hope to pass on to my daughter.
I see my Facebook group as my ‘close-knit family’, in a way. I look to them for advice, to offload my thoughts and for general feedback on fatherhood. Looking back now, to have this support network and even some basic, quality words of advice when my daughter was first born and just prior, would’ve helped me greatly to gain self-confidence and assurance as a first time Dad.
I can now say I’m a proud “Aussie Daddy Blogger” and being a member of group forums focused on other Dads and their experiences has meant my database of ideas, knowledge and advice has been broadened greatly. Watching a new born child grow up into a wonderful human being is an eye opening experience that words just can’t describe and it’s been awesome being able to share that experience. I’ve learnt that it’s ok to not know what I don’t know.
A big shout out goes to every one of you who have helped contribute to my posts, provided advice or who have shared a virtual beer with me. I can’t recommend enough the importance of finding a like-minded group for first-time Dads whether it be online or offline. You’ll thank yourself at 2am or at nappy time, believe me!
I recently approached a collective of other Dads online with a poignant question on an area usually targeted towards Mums. My question was short and simple yet thought-provoking…’What is your best tip for a new Dad?’
The amount, quality and diversity of responses I received from around the world were amazing with numerous Dads more than happy to share their wisdom. The knowledge base ranged from personal experience to professional responses from those with a parenting, relationships or family counselling background.
Reflecting back to when I was a new parent, I really just wanted to know that I was going to be a good, understanding, caring dad, who didn’t need to ask 1000 questions constantly about parenting. I felt that I would be able to do it all but when I found that I needed help I felt it was ok to ask.
When my daughter was born, I was shit-scared to put it bluntly, and, as a first time Dad, I guess I just needed to know that I was going to be ok. That everything was going to be ok.
Two years down the track, and plenty of trial and error later, I’m pleased to say I certainly haven’t broken my child which is always a bonus. I think it was a mixture of sincere ignorance and constantly educating myself on a daily basis that kept me busy and focused enough to stop wondering how I was doing.
I know these tips would’ve been music to my ears around that time too so in no particular order, here are 18 tips to keep you on the ball as a first time Dad:
1. Enjoy the process:
There will be times when you will lose yourself in the moment with your little one – cherish it. Enjoy every minute and you will learn as you go.
2. You ARE going to be ok:
There may be times you feel totally clueless, overwhelmed and that you are completely in over your head. Stop what you are doing and take a breath, everything will be ok.
3. Look after and focus on yourself, your wife or partner and your baby:
There will be a lot going on once the baby arrives. You will be tired and trying to adjust to new routines and a new lifestyle. It will be really important to take a moment to focus on what means most in your life now. Remember to hug and kiss your wife or partner and remind her why you love her. Show her through words, touch or simply helping her with the baby or around the house. It will be important that you both remain in tune with each other and keep those love tanks full. This will then have an indirect positive affect on your baby.
4. Don’t forget to put yourself in the picture:
With so much emphasis on the new baby in your life, don’t forget to take time out to recharge your own batteries. This may be as simple as taking a little time out of your day to focus on who you are and how you now contribute and inspire your small family.
5. It is ok to be shit-scared:
When a new baby arrives on the scene, it will be a sudden, yet brand new experience for you and your wife or partner. There is no real guide book for your individual child and no matter how much good advice you receive from others, you may still feel the need to escape. The new change and those new feelings you are experiencing are normal. You do not have prior knowledge or experience being a parent so being shit-scared and uneducated in this area is natural.
6. It will be hard to let go and ask for assistance: Remember, you do not have to be superman and try to manage everything. You will be strapped for time to look after your household, attend work and care for baby on your own. Allow others, such as relatives and close friends to help when they offer or ask for help if you are not coping. Friends and family have no issues helping out with bringing food or cooking dinner, cleaning the clothes or dishes or playing with your child whilst you shower. You will find a routine, yet those first few weeks will be too much to manage on your own.
7. Take time off work and hobbies to get to know your baby: You’ve probably heard it before but babies turn into children then adults far too quickly. So even if only for a short time, if you can, take leave from work and suspend your other activities. Use that time to get to know your baby and ultimately better understand your role as a parent.
8. As much as you don’t want to, roll your sleeves up, grab a peg for the nose if you need to, and change that nappy (or diaper for my northern hemisphere friends):
It will be a shitty task (pun intended), but you will be the man of the house and earn super brownie points for changing a nappy full of poo. It will be especially hard when you just get home from work when all you want to do is slip your shoes off and just relax. But when you walk in the door and your wife hands you a baby and says “Change nappy please”, remember the brownie points.
9. Be patient:
Everything a baby does and how they respond is as much learning for them as it will be learning for you. Being a parent, you are learning new skills with every new event that happens in your child’s development. Babies have fairly basic needs and simple ways they interact with the world. They only know “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, “I am not feeling well”, “I’m thirsty” and most often express this through crying. You don’t immediately know all the signs for your baby’s needs and at times can feel frustrated. Give yourself time and count to 10 when these upset or frustrated feelings surface. Use a process of elimination starting with the basics – food, sleep or nappy as usually it will be one of these 3. You will manage and you will be ok.
10. Smile lots:
Natural happiness is a mood changer for people of all ages. So smile. **your smiling reading this sentence aren’t you**
11. Kiss your wife!:
Kiss her now. There doesn’t need to be a reason.
12. When your baby is being born, do EVERYTHING, your wife says:
The baby’s birth is a difficult and awkward time for us men. There will be obstetricians, midwives and, quite possibly, family members attending. Despite the crowd, you may feel like you’re separated from all the chaos. Do not take it personally. They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do for your wife and she needs to be in the best state, physically and mentally, to bring your child into the world. Ensure she knows that she’s safe and secure with you being there even if she may seem demanding. This is her way of asking for her immediate needs to be fulfilled. The more positive feelings your wife has, the more positive the birth.
13. Everyone will want to hold your baby:
Be the bouncer for your child. After the birth, it will be an exciting time for everyone including your family and friends. This is also a time when literally everyone may want to hold your baby. Just know that it is ok to say “No, another time maybe”. You may be feeling a little overwhelmed and just trying to soak it all in or perhaps you simply do not want everyone to hold your baby. You can suggest that the baby needs to get used to mum and dad or that it is sleep time. This will give you the time you need to bond with your new family. Perhaps ask the person if they can come back to hold your child later or at another time.
14. Encourage your wife get some sleep:
You’ll earn brownie points again for this tip. Your wife has gone through a strenuous yet amazing experience and she needs to recover. You will learn that sleep helps your baby to grow and likewise sleep will help your wife with her recovery. It is suggested that parents should sleep when the baby sleeps.
15. When help is available, take a nap:
Regular sleep will be a thing if the past and you need to recharge your batteries. So when you notice your patience running thin or you’re not coping, ask someone you trust to look after your baby even for a couple of hours so you can catch a quick nap. You will need it.
16. Ask your wife what she needs, and provide that for her. She will love you for it:
There will be so much going on in a very short period of time and your wife or partner will be experiencing all you are and then some. She will be battling fatigue, sleeplessness, coping with being a new mum and trying to remain a loving partner. So, until the new routine is established, time is super precious. By you asking and helping to fulfil her needs so that she can have a bath, a nap, or just have some time out to relax, you will be so much more appreciated.
17. Take lots of pictures, but don’t forget to be in the moment:
Having a new born around is a really exciting time and you will want every moment captured on camera. The best way is to have the camera at the ready. Saying that, be sure to experience the moment in ‘real time’ and not behind the lens of the camera all the time. Know when to shoot and when to just enjoy and capture it in your memory bank.
18. Don’t be hard on yourself:
This is probably the hardest aspect of being a new father. You will feel like you need to be everything to everyone. However, you may find you feel resentful, hurt and not appreciated if you decide to take it all on board yourself. None of us are super dads, despite what you might think. Enjoy the moments, cherish the times with your new family and be happy to hand over the reins on occasion. A burden is lightened by a burden shared by everyone.
Do you have a first time dad tip to share? Let us know in the comments below.