Parenting advice fit for a king (and other dads)

A close-up of a magazine page

As I may have mentioned in a recent post, Xander and I appeared alongside five other dads and their little ones in the latest issue of Mother & Baby magazine. Why? Well I was giving parenting advice to the future king, of course. As is often the way with these things, our answers were edited down to one each.

A shame, but this is common practice in print publications. Now I hate waste and thought that some of mine may be of use to expectant dads. So, with the kind permission of Michael Hogan who posed the questions and put the article together, here we go…

What was your biggest fear/worry about becoming a father?

Apart from the concerns that everyone has about having a healthy, happy baby I think my biggest worry with my older son, Dylan, was “What if I don’t love him?” With Xander, I often found myself thinking “What if I don’t love him as much as Dylan?” Looking back, those anxieties seem ridiculous. I love the little monkeys to bits. There could never be a favourite. As soon as I saw both my sons, those fears were unfounded.

What’s turned out to be the hardest thing?

The tiredness! Without a doubt. You quickly learn all the new skills and get a feel for what’s normal with your little one. But adapting to a new existence in which you have very little sleep is tough. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been like a zombie at work having seen every hour tick past the night before.

What should Prince William (or any new dad) be prepared for?

All new dads must be prepared to multitask. It’s not a trait we’re famed for, but an important one to learn as quickly as possible!

What should he buy/read/store up?

You can never have too many muslins – or sick rags, as I affectionately call them. If he values his clothes – which I’m sure he does as he probably has some pretty expensive stuff – then he’ll want one permanently on his shoulder. Plus another tucked in his pocket for emergency mopping.

In terms of reading, the parent blogging community is the best place to start. Baby books are all very well, but little ones often do things you won’t have read about. Us parent bloggers write about everything though. It’s always heartening to find out that the ‘weird’ thing your offspring has started doing is really quite normal. May I recommend Diary of the Dad for starters?

For storing up, he could do a lot worse than to cook up and freeze plenty of meals. Just in case his staff decide that they’re not going to deal with the catering anymore.

How should he “handle” Kate, judging by your experience of moodswings, breastfeeding, tiredness etc?

The best thing to do is to be supportive and do whatever he can to help her. Also it’s important to remember that, if things get challenging – like on the much-feared day three, for example – he’s got the easier job during the pregnancy and first few months of being a parent!

How should he “handle” family, in-laws etc?

The most important thing after the birth is that Kate and the baby get a bit of peace and quiet to recover. He’ll have to take on a role that is half bouncer, half diplomat. I’m not saying he should be all like “Sorry, Pippa, your name’s not on the list,” but some common sense has to be applied for the first few days at least. Also, sharing the happy news is parents’ privilege. He and Kate should be the ones to announce the arrival. Not that I imagine the Queen will be straight on Facebook…

What’s been the biggest adjustment for you post-baby?

I think that would have to be learning to get by with very little sleep! Dylan and Xander have both proved challenging in that department. We still don’t sleep through the night. If I can cheat and add a second answer, I found adjusting to having two young children is harder than adjusting to the first. Something for William to bear in mind for next time, maybe!

If you had one piece of advice for William/any new dad, what would it be?

Just wing it! Nobody knows an individual baby better than their parents. With that in mind, don’t take every bit of advice you read as gospel. Everyone is different – even babies! So just go with it and you’ll soon be an expert at what works for your little one.

What’s the best piece of advice you got? And the worst?

I think the best piece of advice I was given was to not try to do everything. I wasn’t necessarily great at sticking to that and probably. In fact, I recall running around doing too many things when I should have been conserving my energy. But the biggest priority has to be looking after your family. Little chores will wait! The worst was to stock up on sleep beforehand. It’s not as if you can amass extra sleep and help yourself to it once you need it at a later date!

And what about a practical tip that you wish you’d known?

The ‘tiger in the tree’ hold! I was a little late to learn of it, but it’s amazing. It seemed to stop tears in their tracks with both my sons. It’s great for babies who suffer from wind or colic and has the added bonus of eliciting some puzzled facial expressions!


  1. Sarah Miles

    Fab answers…especially the one about all babies being different…people can be so quickto insist you do such and such, but only the parents really know what’s right sometimes. Gut instinct has a lot of credibility.

    Thanks for linking up this week – nice to see you back x

  2. Janet Dubac

    Hi Tom! Your blog post is great! My husband and I read it together and we learned a lot from it. You really know a lot about stuff like this and we’re glad that you’re sharing your knowledge to us. Thank you for this amazing article! 🙂

  3. Mama Macfennell

    Definitely agree about the lack of sleep. I think one of the hardest things about being a new parent is the tiredness.
    Enjoyed reading your post and I think William could do a lot worse than following your honest but sensible advice! Helen

  4. The Fool

    Tom – agree on the books, honestly don’t think they are any use at all. Oh and being a bouncer? Most important job of a dad in those first few days I reckon.

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