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Elena Donovan Mauer

New Dad: "What I Wish I Knew About Becoming A Parent"

Ryan, dad to 9-month-old Justin and a project manager in Los Angeles, admits to what threw him for a loop during baby’s first year.

Ryan, Los Angeles

I wish I knew…how much everything changes. Since becoming a dad, I’ve realized the biggest change is that you now have a baby who requires 24-hour care and instantly becomes your number-one priority. Talk about a shift! Everything in our lives has adjusted since Justin’s arrival. I’m a pretty big outdoor enthusiast—I love cycling, trail running and rock climbing—but finding time to exercise, or “my time,” is hard these days. Now that Justin can sit up in the jogging stroller, I get to take him along, which is great. Hopefully I’ll find more time to get out by myself when he gets older.

I wish I knew…your social life will never be the same again (but it’s actually not so bad). Where we were once meeting married friends for happy hour, we now find ourselves gravitating toward our friends with kids. But that doesn’t bother me—I suppose it’s the natural progression, and honestly, as time goes on, we have fewer and fewer friends who don’t have kids. Luckily, there’s no rift between me and my friends without kids—we support and respect one another. We still see them, but there are usually kids involved in our get-togethers now.

I wish I knew…that we’d have to prioritize our marriage. I honestly have a greater appreciation for my wife, Rachael, now that we have a baby. (Read her take on becoming a mom here.) She has completely embraced being a mother and is a natural. Our relationship has strengthened because of it, but we still have to work on our relationship constantly and be cognizant that we don’t just revolve our lives around our son—an easy trap to fall into.

I wish I knew…our entire home would need an overhaul, not just the nursery. Living in a one-bedroom house, we knew we’d need more space, so I enclosed a patio off of our bedroom and created a nursery. The room is on the small side, but it works perfectly for our needs now. But once I realized just how much baby gear we would acquire, I also built an eight-by-twelve-foot storage shed in our yard to free up the little closet space we have. It’s worked out great, especially since I didn’t anticipate needing three strollers, or my wife using the space to store “seasonal” clothes.

I wish I knew…what a great team my wife and I would make. Because we had friends who already had kids, we were able to get the scoop on what life with a baby was going to be like. I’m certain my wife asked all of her girlfriends with kids every question humanly possible, and there’s definitely a benefit to that. I think for men and women, the experience is completely different. Moms I know ask a lot of questions for the nine months before the baby, and men tend to wait for the birth and then start figuring things out. At least, that’s what we did. We have a good balance.