There has never been a better time to be a dad.
Whilst in the past our role was regarded as little more than to Do The Deed then buy the cigars before spending a lifetime toiling at the coal face to pay for the product of our Deed, we're now hands-on, involved and immersed in our children's lives.
Heck, our role has become so heroic that being a dad isn't just a natural function of procreating the species – we're positively COOL!
The latest initiative to facilitate our bonds with our kids comes from the Labour party which, as the General Election approaches on May 7, recently announced that if it gets into power all new dads will be given four weeks paternity leave from their jobs and a nice cash reward of £260 – that's double the time and double the money of what's currently on offer. And the Lib-Dems have gone a fortnight better by offering new dads SIX weeks off work.
It's almost worth sowing one's seeds just for the holiday!
Except, as we experienced fathers know only too well, becoming a new dad is an entire universe away from putting your feet up and watching the telly for a few weeks.
Nope. It's exhausting! The shouting, the screaming, the crying, the constant feeds, the relentless demands for attention – and that's just the mother of your child!
Which begs the question: why on earth would anyone want a week off work in the first month of your child's life? It's waaay more relaxing to stay at work, updating your Facebook wall with photos of newborn while you're pretending to prepare a spreadsheet.
That was pretty much what I did when my first child was born – but I regretted it, massively. I missed the sound of him, the smell of him, the staring at him until my eyes filled with tears. Work seemed like just a means to an end: to put food on the table to his mum and him strong and healthy.
After Labour's announcement, there was much talk on radio phone-ins about the initiative threatening small businesses (although, given the amount of notice they'd get, I'd have thought contingency planning would get around that) and £260 not being enough to compensate dads for the money they'd lose by missing work (£260 matches the minimum wage and is what a huge number of people get by on week-in, week-out).
But neither of these would be my beef: I think the four weeks would be wonderful – but taken at a time when is best for the family, even if that means spread it out: a week in the first seven days of your newborn's life; a week when all the visits from friends and relatives have ebbed away; a week when your partner has reached her absolute rock bottom limit with sleepless nights; and then a week to simply bond with and enjoy your child (say when they're old enough to buy their first round in the pub).
In the past four years, since I was made redundant and became a Reluctant Housedad, I've had more than enough (too much!) time to bond with my children, witness their development stages and nag them about eating their greens and doing their homework.
But I miss being a first-time dad and all the wonder and awe that comes with that monumental stage in a man's life.
So if you do get the chance to take four, or even six, weeks' paternity leave if and when you become a dad for the first time, my advice is: take it.
Those weeks are what memories are made of.
But don't take my word for it. These dads were interviewed for The Baby Show about advice they would give to soon-to-be fathers. Here's a selection of their views...
ADVICE FROM DADS TO DADS-TO-BE
1. Amit Kumar Mehta: "Prepare yourself. In today's technological era, everything you need to know is available on the internet. I still use it now."
2. Tama Kingston: "Get all the DIY done BEFORE the baby comes."
3. Tama Kingston: "Book a surprise dinner date for you and your partner just before the big day, including a movie night (if she can stay awake)."
4. James Robinson: "Make sure you've got a packed lunch for when you go to the hospital in labour (they don't cater for the dads)."
5. Ben Kirkham: "Make every moment count and keep the mummy happy; remember that all children need is love and attention."
6. Ranjiv Sadarangani: "Don't listen to advice, just go with the flow. Nothing is right or wrong. Just remember to always be there for the mother as she probably needs you the most."
7. Robert McLaughlin: "Look at your life and prioritise everything towards your family. But leave some space for yourself – I took up golf after the birth of my daughter which seems odd but it gave me some time to think about how my life is changing day-to-day."
8. Christopher Winton: "Enjoy every single second and listen to everyone's advice, you never know when you might hear a little gem."
9. David Kalandad: "Don't be scared and keep yourself as involved as possible."
10. Faiyaz Bobat: "Get your sleep while you can!"
11. James Robinson: "Don't panic; whether it is worrying about not being ready for a baby or financially stable enough, you will make it work, you just need to adjust."
What would you add?
More on Parentdish: 10 things every dad needs to know
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