5 things every new dad should do to crush the first year of fatherhood.

This week, my son had his first birthday. The last year has changed my life a lot, and I believe I have changed as a person too.

It was important to me from the very beginning that I wouldn’t be just the secondary parent. Although we live in the 21st century, it seems we are stuck in roles that are from the 1950s when it comes to parenting.

If you’d like to be an active father and an equal parent, here are a few things I learned throughout my first year as a father that might help you along your way:


1. Start talking early about the details.

Whenever people give a couple the advice to talk with each other, it seems like such a no-brainer. It seems ridiculous to even mention it. But when it comes to parenting and the question of which role you want to take on (and maybe which one you don’t) it is just so important.

I suggest you start talking really early about your ideas, as specifically as possible.

For example: When my wife and I started to discuss our parental leave while she was still pregnant, we realized that we had quite different ideas of “equal.” Only when we talked about how many months I really wanted to stay at home full-time and how much I wanted to reduce work hours after that did we realize that our ideas diverged.

Let’s just split 50/50 or 60/40 or whatever is still very general. But when you start to think about what that actually means, then you’ll have the important discussions. Suddenly it becomes something like this:

Partner 1: “Let’s do the 50/50 model. That means I’ll start work at 9:00 a.m. and leave at 1:00 p.m. Oh, wait a minute, Thursday I usually have a meeting at 9:00 a.m. and one at 3:00 p.m., which I really can’t miss. So I’ll just stay longer that one day. Ah … and maybe sometimes Monday too.”

Partner 2: “So what does that mean? I just work whenever you choose to be available? How am I supposed to plan that at my work? By the way, I need to be at the office Monday morning as well. And I can’t just always go to work at 2:00 p.m.“

That’s the moment when it gets interesting and when the actual discussions start. So stop making general comments and be specific early on. How? Write a plan, draw a sketch, create a shared calendar. Just be sure to be specific.

2. Take as much time off as you can.

When our son was born I stayed at home with my wife for about two months. Throughout the first year, I took another three months off and reduced my work time to 75%. I was lucky to live in Germany at the time I became a father, where it was technically possible to leave my job for up to 12 months while getting partially paid. Not everyone has that option, but I encourage everyone to get as much time at home with the baby as possible. Even if you can't stay home, dialing back your working hours just a little can make a huge difference.

Everything seems so peaceful and quiet before baby's arrival. Soon you'll need every pair of hands. All photos by Manuel Grossmann, used with permission

The first few months, my wife and I were both struggling with the new life, the lack of sleep, and all the new challenges and worries.

When I look at the pictures from those days, I think “Gee, we look terrible.” It is a funny mixture of what seems to be the longest sleepover ever (we were wearing PJs all the time) and the night after a rough party (messy hair, sleepy look…). But besides the fact that this is a time when there is more than enough work for two people, it is also a time that you really don’t want to miss as a father.

During those first weeks, my son and I got to know each other. I learned how to hold him, how to dress him, how to change his nappies (of course), and how to calm him down, etc.

Not everyone has that option, but I encourage everyone to get as much time at home with the baby as possible

I know a lot of fathers who were at home very little during that time or not at all due to work-related travel. In these cases, the learning curve of the mother was just so much steeper than the father’s because the mother was at home all the time.

I’ve met fathers with six-month-old babies who can’t bring their children to bed by themselves, are not able to calm them down during the night, or never stay home alone with them. This is not because fathers are genetically less connected to their child. It is simply the lack of practice that makes fathers feel uncomfortable or that the child has established those routines with the mother alone and gets irritated when suddenly the father tries to do it.

This is the time to create a strong bond between you and your child from day one. It’s not a vacation — there were times when I was tired beyond anything I’d experienced — but it helped me deepen my relationship with my son. Try not to miss that chance!

Parental leave is fun and work at the same time, like preparing and feeding lunch every day.

3. Get organized.

When you really boil it down, your daily routine after your child is born changes because of two major differences: lack of sleep and lack of time. Lack of sleep is something you get used to much quicker than you’d expect. Lack of time is what I found most challenging.

Before our son was born, my wife and I were both very active people. During the day we’d work and meet people for coffee or lunch. In the evening, we’d go out, meet friends, join professional meet-ups, or work on our own projects. Once there is a little human who needs care and attention literally 24 hours a day, your life changes quite dramatically.

I read a really good book that suggested a strict shared calendar for everything. We tried this out and it worked extremely well for us. Our calendar includes work slots, child care slots, and external babysitting. So far so good. What made the real difference is that we added individual free time and couple time as predefined placeholders. We agreed they were equally important to anything else in the calendar. Each of us had one evening per week for ourselves. This allowed us to see friends, go to meet-ups, or whatever. We also made sure to plan in regular date nights for which we would get a babysitter.

If you get organized, you'll both have time for things you enjoy as individuals. I took a print making class.

Without free time for yourself and for you as a couple, you lose a lot of your life and become dissatisfied. This will eventually have an impact on your relationship and the way you interact with your child.

4. Include your child whenever possible.

It seems a lot of people exit the world they used to live in once they become parents. But contrary to popular belief, you actually don’t change completely as a person the moment you become a parent.

Once you get over the first three months, normal life starts to come back if you allow it to. And you’d be surprised how many events you can actually attend with your child. Before our son turned one, my wife and I went to conferences, birthday parties, weddings, and even business meetings!

What I found much harder than actually bringing my son to these events was the idea of doing it. I was simply scared. However, most people are very supportive and happy when you bring your child.

For some of the events, I found it easier to go there with my wife and take turns if necessary.

Give it a try and see what works best for you. Just don’t decline invitations to all the things you still want to do.

5. Get support and ask for help.

It has always seemed odd to let other people do the things that I could do myself. When I became a parent, this attitude changed — a lot. As I said, your daily routine will change dramatically once the little one arrives. Suddenly, individual and couple time as well as sleep will be your most precious resources. Don’t waste them on things you might as well outsource.

One of the first things we did was to get someone to clean our apartment once a week. This saved us so much stress and arguments that I honestly think it was one of the best value for money investments ever.

But there are other things you can outsource. For example, I became a regular customer of services that send pre-packed recipes to your house.

Besides professional help and services, there is, of course, your family. If your family is around, then you’re lucky.

In the beginning I didn’t like the idea of my mum cooking lunch for me — it felt like going back in time and losing my independence. But when she came over with a delicious meal ready to be eaten, all doubts vanished and I was deeply thankful. Often, the small things matter the most. Like my parents or in-laws coming over and taking our son for a short walk in the park while we take a nap. Or my sister-in-law coming over to babysit while we go on a date.

One of the meals my mother brought over.

The thing about help is, it won’t magically appear on your doorstep. Often you’ll need to ask for it. This seems so hard, but once you do, you’ll discover it is worth it. So swallow your pride and ask family and close friends for help.

Believe me, it’s worth it.

The bottom line? Life is a list of priorities.

In my opinion, life is a list of priorities. You can have (pretty much) everything you want — just not everything at the same time. It is easy to find reasons why certain solutions work for others but just not for you. In most of these cases, however, they don’t work for you because you don’t want them bad enough.

Way up on top of my list: my son.

Decide what is important to you. If necessary, put these things on a list and prioritize them. Everything on on the list is either more or less important than something else.

Whatever is on top of your list is a conscious choice. And only you are responsible for it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less