Top Tips: Everything else

Last week, I wrote about my top tips for activities following a conversation in a trendy third wave coffee shop. I was going to write more, but the mother of my infant son pointed out that 799 words was probably quite enough and that I should save some of my vast wisdom for a later date.

That date is now.

Get to know imperial.

This will make your life much easier. Your parents are not as enlightened as you and do not understand, nor wish to understand, the metric system of weights and measures. Similarly, the makers of the Perfect Prep machine and infant formula have a fondness for whatever the fuck a fluid ounce is.

Let’s approach this from the parent angle first of all. You will be taking your infant son or daughter to be weighed (which is an experience I will relate at a later date, once I have calmed down) and you will need to proudly report this to your parents. You may also need to explain again what a percentile is. The scales at the clinic will report your child’s weight in kilograms, to the nearest gram. You will need to convert this into pounds and ounces and, once your little one is stacking them on, stones and pounds. Alas, the answer Google will give you is unhelpful. Try it.

Now, in the given example, we asked Google to convert 7.312kg into pounds. It cheerily and correctly comes back with 16.12lb which you might reasonably, sensibly and incorrectly interpret as 16lb 12oz in your sensible metric brain. But it isn’t; it’s 16lb and (.12*16)oz. Google doesn’t give the answer in pounds and ounces, but some bastard lovechild of pounds with a decimal. You need to multiply the decimal by sixteen to get your number of ounces. Quite who thought 16 was a sensible base for naturally moving between one unit and another I have no idea; evidently a different person than decided 14 pounds should make a stone and, once again, a different person who determined you would need 160 stones to make up an imperial ton. What the fuck were that lot on? Seriously.

Forget this crucial little step and you too will be responsible for your mother thinking your infant child has either lost or gained a frightening amount of weight. On my calculations, our son lost 7lb in January – better than the combined new year efforts of the rest of the household, but enough to have your parents racing down the A1 with a boot full of hungry infant formula.

The second angle is that your Perfect Prep machine (and you will end up getting one one, even if you think you have no need for one and that it is simply unnecessary, ugly, plastic clutter in your Bauformat kitchen) deals solely in fluid ounces. The good news, however, is that you don’t really need to worry about it – the number of fluid ounces of water just needs to match the number of scoops of formula and, in turn, that needs to be enough to fill your child. There’s a look-up table on the back of the box. Just think of it as an arbitrary number and you’ll be fine.

Buy moisturiser. Now.

You will be washing your hands:

  • Before each bottle;
  • After each bottle;
  • Before each attempt at solid food;
  • After each attempt at solid food;
  • After each nappy change;
  • After you’ve been to the toilet;
  • Before you make breakfast;
  • Before you make lunch;
  • Before you make dinner.

You will also spend a lot of time at the kitchen sink. Washing your stuff, washing bottles, washing work surfaces. Sterilising bottles, either by steam or chemical bath. Laundry, too, will take its toll – especially as you’ll be applying detergent directly to some bodily stain or other.

Water, soaps, detergents, Dettol wipes, towels. Warm inside, cold outside. Gloves on and off. The dermatological torture test that is the microfibre construction baby wipes and nappies. Your hands will be like a pauper’s emery cloth by the end of day 3 but, like the stupid man you are, you’ll work through the pain, ignore the bleeding knuckles, and only get around to sorting your shit out once you’ve had a bollocking for inadvertently damaging a pair of her 60 deniers while you were putting them away.

Buy some properly comfortable and supportive trainers. Now.

Martin and I were talking about pushchairs the other day. He reckoned his had done well over a thousand miles in the year he’d had it and that it could use a bit of a tune up. Based on those numbers, and what my own Google Fit says, expect to walk anywhere between three and seven miles on a typical day. Opportunistic visits to the park, trips to the shops, attending medical appointments, trying to get your child to nap after all in-home methods have failed, coffee, activities, etc. And sometimes it’s nice to just get out of the house because it smells of poo and despair.

Unfortunately all the walking you do won’t have a beneficial impact on your waistline; those bottles of red that got you through the first six months aren’t going anywhere. The reason is simple: you’ll be eating your own weight in snacks every day. Having a coffee in somewhere? You’ll have tried everything on the cake shelf by the end of week four. A particularly vigorous session at the Toy Library taken it out of you? Percy Ingle sausage roll. An insensitively-timed nap caused you to miss lunch and now it’s getting quite close to dinner? Bag of chips from The Fishy Fryer.

The patriarchy sucks.

Helpful reminders of your general position of privilege will mostly come in the form of having to awkwardly stand outside women’s toilets in pubs, church halls and cafes. You will be waiting to ask anyone exiting the aforementioned lavatories whether it is ‘safe’ for you to go in. A surprising number of places, even those that purport to be family friendly, think only women change babies’ nappies and are equipped accordingly.

A man and a baby in a room for a lady
A man and a baby in a room for a lady

You will also be looked at oddly in the parent and baby rooms in shopping centres and your child’s nursery will be surprised to learn it is you, the father, that will be doing the settling in and that the mother has already gone back to work.

Just a little taster of the kind of shit the other half of the population have to put up with every day.


One thought on “Top Tips: Everything else”

  1. Neutrogena hand cream utterly essential in the bottle era. I can live with imperial measures in base 12, but the stone/pound 14/16 thing is just nonsense.

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