Writer Karl Puschmann gets real about being a first-time parent to his little tearaway toddler, Poppy (2).
How did you feel about becoming a dad, before your daughter arrived? I felt a lot of different things. It was exciting but I also knew a daunting, hugely scary amount of responsibility was coming my way. But, before we even started trying for her, I’d realised I was as ‘ready’ to become a father as I was ever going to be. What is fatherhood really like, compared to what you expected it to be? Most of my expectations were on the negative side of things to be honest. I knew the good bits weren’t worth worrying about because they would be, by definition, good. The one big thing I’d underestimated was how tiring it would be. Conceptually, I understood that being woken up three times a night for a year would be tiring, but the reality of that was just brutal. On the plus side, I had very negative expectations towards changing pooey nappies, but I’m happy to say you get used to that extremely quickly and very soon you hardly even notice you’re changing them. Apart from that one rare hungover morning. That time was a bit much. What have been the most challenging aspects of being a dad and how have you tackled them? I have a lot of creative projects I’m working on and not having any time to dedicate to them is by far the hardest part of being a dad for me. I scratch out an hour here and there to work on them in the evenings where I can, but it’s never enough, and by the time I can get started I’m often tired from work and completing Poppy’s bedtime routine. I did have a plan to start getting up early to work on them in the mornings but I’m a night person so it didn’t really work out… I’m still trying to figure out the answer to this. I’ll have to get back to you. What are the best parts of being a dad? Poppy and I have a lot of fun just clowning around. She
is very funny and cracks me up a lot. She has a fun and silly sense of humour and makes very good exaggerated faces to go along with her joking. Watching her comic timing grow has been a very rewarding experience. But there are lots of good parts. How would you describe your style of parenting? Well, I’m shooting for fun but firm. I have no idea how well that’s working out… But I’m very engaged with her. I try to make things fun, even just driving in the car or reading books. That said, she has restrictions, which are enforced. For example, she gets very limited screen time and has a strict 7pm bedtime. What advice would you give to a father-to-be? Keep smiling. Failing that, just do the best you can. Take a lot of photos of the good bits, as well as funny photos of the bad bits. They grow faster than you expect. And, at the very start, don’t wuss out from cutting the cord. That’s the one thing you’ve got to do during the labour. All things considered, you’re getting off lightly there.
Karl’s tip: Take lots of of the good photos as bits, as well of funny photos the bad bits.
Karl and Poppy take some time out.