When my wife told me she was pregnant with our first boy, some 8 years ago, I distinctly remember feeling excitement, relief and acute anxiety, all in one go. Relief because we had struggled to conceive due to a particular health complication; excitement because this was it, the moment we had been waiting for; anxiety because I knew this was the start of a very different chapter of my life. Not in a negative way - I wanted to change my lifestyle and needed more purpose - it was fear of the unknown. No matter how many chats I had with my own dad or others who were further ahead in the parenting game, it still felt ridiculously daunting.
I remember thinking, at least I’ve got nine months to get my act together, and actually, this was a really useful chunk of time to get used to the idea of becoming a dad. It was somewhere in the second trimester when I started to become particularly aware of my own knowledge gaps, frantically Googling things like “ “is it possible to spend less than 500 quid on a buggy?”, “should I be worrying about school catchment areas?”, and “what is that weird soft part on a newborns head??”. The research helped me to feel like I was contributing, whilst my wife was, quite literally, doing all the heavy lifting. I also felt a little more prepared for what was to come.
I now have two boys aged 4 & 7, and on reflection, there are a few areas I wish I’d known more about - and possibly certain things I would approach differently - plus shortcuts or efficiencies that can make life easier for you.
One big knowledge gap I had when we decided to ‘try’ for a baby is how it can be really difficult to conceive. We all have at least one set of friends who only have to open a bottle of Jacob’s Creek, look at each other and then become instantaneously pregnant. In many cases, it can take a while - no one really tells you that.
We live in an age of convenience; some companies have dedicated thousands of hours to coding and logistics to bring things quickly to us. Find services that take away the faff. You will be time-poor and sleep-deprived, therefore not much energy (or patience) for the more mundane tasks, like buying tonnes of nappies. Boots Parenting Club is worth checking out.
Look after the pennies
Setup up a Junior ISA so relatives can park some cash there, instead of another cartoon character jumpsuit. Wealthify Junior ISA is a good place to start your research. Create your own emergency savings pot - life is about to get more expensive, and when you get an eye-watering bill from the garage or your local builder says you need a new flat roof, it hurts.
Choosing the right school
Research primary schools in your area, and if there are particularly good ‘faith’ schools nearby, you may want to get your church attendance up and go over to the vicars for a cup of tea. Check out the school and catchment area research tool, Locrating.com.
Learn about different ways of managing a sleep routine for your baby. One that fits with your lifestyle and doesn't make you feel like a monster in the process. Following or adapting Gina Ford’s guidance works for some.
The list goes on. Looking back on that time, it would have been helpful to hear more about services that are designed to make a parent’s life easier, provide insight to prepare for the future, and help save a few quid.
That’s largely what led me and co-founder, Gregg Stone, to create ‘Hank’. When we first became parents, we desperately wanted a single source of helpful insight that could provide reassurance and prepare us for short and long term, family-related considerations. We also discovered through our own experiences of being a dad and talking to many others, that whilst there are numerous support systems and groups catering for mums, there is very little provision of the same service for dads.
And so Hank, an acronym of the four cornerstones the service is built on, was born. Hank: Help. Advice. Nurture. Knowledge.