So a couple of weeks ago I booked flights from NYC to L.A. and back to have myself, my wife and our new baby boy get out to California to visit my family over the Christmas holiday. I knew the longer I waited to book the flights, the more expensive they would be (especially for such a popular travel time). I didn't want to get screwed so I was hoping to find the "sweet spot" for booking. I looked around on the internet to see if there was a day of the week, a time of day or any other "insider info" about when to find the cheapest flight. I even questioned a Jet Blue flight attendant while we both stood in line at the Post Office. All of these efforts turned up assumptions and no real concrete results.
It turned out there was not a secret combination of search sites or dropping someone's name when calling the airline directly that would work. There is in fact only one true way to get the lowest possible booking price. BOOK FAR IN ADVANCE. Between 90 days and 150 days to be more precise. BOOK NOW! As of this post, NOW is the best time to grab deals on flights for the 2015 holiday season.
****Here is a link for Booking.com. I used CheapOair and there is a link for them below****
Airlines make most of their profits off of travel booked at the last minute when costs skyrocket because demand is high and supply gets lower by the second. We have all had the experience of not having a spare moment in our daily lives and so we don't get to booking that flight until a few weeks out at best - and the night before at worst.
With my plan set, I used CheapOair to book my flights, and managed to get the airline, times, and seats I wanted. While the cost per ticket still ended up being around $500 I could have easily spent $700 if I had bought flights in October or November.
If you can plan just your holiday travel, or some reoccurring trip, months out you will get the best price and not have the pressure of limited time and be forced to take any plane flying that direction at whatever God-awful time they allow their under-caffeinated, and overworked flight crew to operate 20 tons of aircraft.
So now if you can make your plans and get your flights booked, you can take your savings and splurge for one of the upgrades, like a hotel package or a rental car. Or you can use the money for a nice meal out on vacation or some extra Santa swag. The point is that dough is yours because you took advantage of foresight and planned ahead. Now if I can just plan to handle the laundry I might be closer to winning this "adulting" game.
Welcome to the club! You are now part of a wonderful family and a member of committed brethren of men aiming to raise healthy and happy children while managing the daily tasks of being a loving husband and respectable man. Congratulations!
I know you are feeling more proud, more love, and more joy than you have ever felt in your life. I also know when there is even the tiniest of breaks in the day, you are feeling the most dread you have ever felt in your life. What to do, how to do it right, when to do it, should you do it, why do you even do it, and what does it cost to hire someone else to do it. :-)
There are many books on the topic of new fatherhood and you should read them . But I wanted to put together a short list of the immediate bits of knowledge that you will need to help you through the next month in your efforts to keep another human being alive.
1. Keep a log.
A notebook (paper or digital) is a great place to log when you feed and change the baby. Keeping track those first few weeks will be important to make sure your child is doing well and acclimating to living in this new world. You can also write down questions for the pediatrician to ask them when you bring your kid and your notebook to your appointments. Trust me, sleep deprivation will sap your memory so write down anything you want to remember.
2. Sleep when the baby sleeps
Seriously. I know you are going to want to use that time to catch up on email, update your Facebook, or even just watch T.V. DON'T.
SLEEP. NOW. That little 30 minute nap will make you such a better person and allow you to get through the rest of your day. Everything else can wait.
3. Control the legs during a diaper change.
Have you ever had to actually hog tie a squealing pig? Imagine you are trying to put a pair(s) of pants on a squid. (I'll give you a sec to let that image manifest)
But first you have to change it's diaper.
Those little legs can be everywhere in an instant and so can the contents of the diaper when they kick it all around.
The best method is to take one hand and grab both their ankles and lift up raising their butt off the changing mat. Now you can use your other hand to remove the diaper and wipe them down. You'll be a pro at it in no time. It's a simple trick, but it prevents you from have THAT story.
4. When the baby is crying, check off the list.
Here is the list:
- Change the baby. (diaper and outfit, if needed)
- Feed the baby.
- Comfort the baby. (swaddle, rocking, holding, carry)
- Whatever specific task your child may require.
- If you have done everything to make sure the child is fed, clean and comfortable, then you may just need to let them cry it out.
Put them down where they sleep and let them be. Come back in 30 minutes and try the list again.
5. Baby helpline.
Here is a baby helpline you can call with questions. Set your phone to voice dial it if you can. Yelling "Call Babyline" at your phone while holding a distressed baby will make your life a lot easier! I also have it set to "Call Batman", but nothing has happened yet...
Here is the number to the Hoag Hospital Babyline. (PST) You can call and leave a message and they will call you right back.
6. Stress management.
Yoga, workout, bike ride, swim, walk, run, meditate, etc.
Whatever you need to do to give yourself even just 20 minutes of focused YOU time built around relaxing and calming your body and mind DO IT! Let your partner have that time and they will give it to you.
Keeping a human being alive is immensely stressful and it will get the better of you on more than one occasion. You must find a way to manage your anger, exhaustion, depression and frustrations in an effective way. It is not the child's fault that they cannot take care of themselves or even know what they need. It is your task as a parent to take the higher ground and put the child's needs first while caring for your own well being in a positive way.
Here are some good online resources:
10 minute Yoga Flow
20 minute workout
7. Buy diapers? Good. Now buy twice as many.
Whether you are using cloth, G Diapers, disposable, or old t shirts, it doesn't matter. You will need more than you think you need. Babies will go through a lot of diapers. Below is an Amazon link to a ton of 'em. 216 diapers for $36 with Prime and there in 2 days. Amazon will become your very best friend.
8. Help your partner
It is not easy for dads. It's not easy for moms either. Make sure you are helping in whatever way you can. This is a team effort. Take out the trash, walk the dogs, clean the kitchen, clean the bathroom, vacuum the living room, make the bed, make dinner, buy the groceries, order take out, watch a movie she wants to watch, bring her food and drink while she is breastfeeding, clean the bottles.
Anything helps and you will be surprised how efficient you become at all of these tasks. You can get a lot done in 20 minutes of focused effort.
Become the man you know you can be - all capable, all caring, all powerful.
9. Ask for help.
It took me a little bit before I let myself reach out with questions and concerns I had. Maybe pride stopped me, maybe naivete, maybe I just never found the time. But when I did I found a resource in my friends, family, neighbors and online that helped answer simple and even complex questions. Never be afraid to say "I don't know, but I will find out". It will save you.
10. Enjoy this.
This is a beautiful time in your life. You love this new human and feel like you have never felt when you hold them in your arms and look into their eyes. Yes it can be tough, but loving and raising a fantastic person makes it all worth it. Take lots of pictures, go on walks as a family, and enjoy just being together. You'll be great.
- Daddy O