Being a New Dad

- Yes…this is my first post in over 2 years, and it’s about me being a new parent – am I a daddy blogger now…?

I’ll never forget waking up on the morning of the 14th December 2013. Not only was it my first year wedding anniversary, but I also awoke to my wife Emily crying, jumping all over me and splashing something in my face.

I gave myself a little slack for being confused given I was immediately also slapped in the face with a monstrous hangover (caused in part by an excellent degustation at The Lakehouse in Daylesford, but mostly by the matched wines). What the hell was going on? I realised Emily was crying and couldn’t quite figure out if this was a good or a bad thing until I focused on this little white stick with a blue line.

Oh boy. I’m a Dad. We’re parents.

It was by no means a surprise, we had been planning this for almost six months, however I didn’t think we would get pregnant so quickly. Shortly after realising the moisture I could feel splashing on my face was urine, I then calculated that we’d got pregnant on our first try. Amazing. Celebrations ensured and I didn’t stop smiling for months.

Fast forward to the 2nd September 2014, after several scans, months of tension and a final few stressful weeks, I was proudly holding my baby boy, Oliver, in my arms. I won’t go into the long story about the pregnancy and even longer story about labour, other than to say that the COSMOS midwives at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne are fantastic. I am still overwhelmed by how incredible these women are and can’t recommend the Cosmos Program enough.

Oliver is 7 weeks old now and it has literally flown by. I am by no means an expert, I’m learning how to be a father/parent/partner just like any other new dad but I felt compelled to share what I have learnt in this short time in the hope it helps somebody, somewhere, who may be a dad in the near future. These are the things I value.. everyone is different so I’m sure some people will disagree. That’s fine – you do whatever works for you.

 

Do Every Nappy Change – So Much Win

A few weeks before Oliver was due I went to a ‘Dads group’ at the Royal Womens. The few people I told I was going had a little chuckle and wondered whether it was just a group for sharing bad-jokes, however on reflection it was the best thing I ever did. Sharing thoughts, worries and ideas with fellow Dads-to-be was invaluable and I took away one piece of advice that really resonated.

Do every nappy change. Every…single…one.

As Dads, we can’t do the feeding (unless its by bottle obviously). Mums build an incredible bond by feeding 8-12 times per day and having all that eye contact. Change time is, for me, my time. Not only is it my chance to get that eye contact and enjoy the smiles, but it’s also something that I know is a great help to Emily.

Secondly, the dad group discussed how it makes Mum feel when she’s explaining to other Mums and family how her partner does all the nappy changes. Not only does Mum feel great, but it makes me feel great too for something that I actually have fun doing and I feel that Oliver enjoys it too.

Get Skin to Skin Contact – It’s Amazing

When Emily asked me to ensure I got skin to skin contact with our baby immediately after birth I was in two minds. Firstly, I didn’t really fancy the idea of sitting with my top off in front of a load of nurses and secondly I didn’t like the idea of the baby trying to have a go on my nipple. I’ve got nipples Greg, can you milk me?

However, given the circumstances of our labour, I was tasked with taking the then un-named Oliver away for some time whilst we waited for Emily. Given that Emily had gone through so much and the little guy was out in this wild new, cold, loud world …taking my top to hold my Son off didn’t seem like anything weird. I held him tight, skin on skin and it calmed us both down. What a feeling.

I’ll never forget how peaceful I felt. We felt. Father and Son. I can’t recommend it enough.

 

Pre-freeze Healthy(ish) Homemade Meals

A bit of a boring one, but it pays dividends. There will be days when you simply can’t even think past the next word, let alone the next meal. You’ll be in no place to start hitting the supermarket and exploring your inner Nigella in the kitchen so you need a backup plan.

The alternative – microwaveable meals or takeaways – are tempting but the truth is that they won’t give you the nutrients you need to be a healthy, happy and alert parent. You’ll feel tired, irritable and probably get sick and put on weight. This is especially worrying if you’re breast feeding.

Before Oliver was born we (Emily) pre-made a tonne of freezable meals; lasagne, chile, gyoza, apple crumbles etc. It was amazingly useful. Not only was it cheaper, but also healthier and even more convenient than takeaway as we just had to throw it in then oven before a feed.

 

Arrange Finances & Cash Flow = Less Headaches

Depending on your situation you probably need to start thinking about cash flow for the first couple of months and/or year(s). For us, Emily was taking a year off of work and so we were to survive on a single salary which has it’s challenges – especially when you envisage expenses going up with nappies, clothes, toys, etc.

We found visiting a financial planning class helpful and subsequently restructured our banking configuration and cash flow for income, expenditure and savings as well as classifying all spending between ‘need’ or ‘want’. It’s proven invaluable and really helped avoid any stress caused by financial pressure. In truth, I found that just cutting out buying one coffee a day pays for nappies and family and friends have been so extremely generous in helping with clothes and accessories that we haven’t felt it too much.

In short, I’d recommend starting to look at what you can cut back on,  which direct debits you have and assess which accounts you are using for income and outgoings. We found that consolidating all income and outcomes into one account made everything a lot more visible and manageable… but, each to their own…

 

Get Your Sleep – Your Family Needs You

One thing that really annoyed me on the run up to being a Dad was all the people saying ‘get all the sleep that you can!’… what does that even mean? I can’t bank it. It’s not credit. If anything, it served me better to get used to not having sleep – under my own terms! OK, rant over.

However, for the first few weeks or so I thought I was Super Dad. I would and could do everything. Working, cooking, cleaning, wiping, changing, driving, shopping etc and I thought this was what I had to do.

Boy, was I wrong. It didn’t last long before I hit a wall and just couldn’t do it any more. It wasn’t great but I was lucky that I hit it whilst visiting family so could sleep it off. My dad said to me ‘don’t exhaust yourself Andrew. Recognise and respect the signs – take a break and look after yourself too’. He was right – and ever since then I’ve made sure I, and Emily, get our sleep to as without us Oliver can’t survive.

 

Priorities Change – Get Ready For It

Ever since Oliver was born I’ve felt a wave of calm flow over me.

Everything else in life is just noise. All I care about is my family; my wife and my boy.  I’m still hugely passionate about my work and love what I do every day, but any issues I face at work pail in comparison to anything I could experience at home and they’ve become a lot easier to approach and resolve. There are more important things to worry about.

Perhaps it’s different for everyone but my parting advice would be to think about what is important to you now and imagine a scenario when that…well… just isn’t important to you anymore.

 

So… that’s me really. I know I have a whole lot more to learn. It’s a roller coaster and I’m by no means that person who’s just got on and thinks they know it all. It’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait for all the up, downs and loop-the-loops fatherhood throws at me.

Skate To Where The Puck Is Going To Be

Phew, quite a few Google Algorithm updates since my last post! Over the past 6 month’s we’ve had three Penguins and I’m getting sick of Pandas.

In short quality, branded domains with reputable, natural link profiles from trusted sources have been given a big boost in the search results, mostly replacing sites with:

  • Exact Match Domains
  • Low quality content
  • Low quality links

I’ve read stories of small business owners who’ve had to shut up shop since these updates wiped their sites from Google as a result of their SEO Company. People who have lost their entire income and those who have had to give up their businesses and go back to life as an Employee.

Tough times and whilst it’s easy to think ‘well, you should have played by the rules and not gamed the algorithm’, many of these folks didn’t know. They were simply paying their SEO provider a few hundred dollars a month to ‘optimise’ their site. Sadly, this game changed about five years ago.

So how do you protect your website, business and livelihood from the wrath of future Google algorithm updates? Where are the biggest wins and what opportunities are there to topple the giants and grab a piece of the market?

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been- Wayne Gretzky

Here’s three things you can get a head start on today that a majority of the ‘big players’ are ignorant to:

AuthorRank – Adding Weight of Voice

Not all content is equal. Currently, we know that Google measures the quality of content based on whether it’s:

  • Unique
  • Relevant
  • Comprehensive
  • Linked To
  • Who links to it

But, how about who wrote it? In real life we look at the author of an article in the newspaper, the spokesperson on the TV or the author of a book and use our previous knowledge of that person’s skills and experience as to whether we value their message. People are experts in different topics, and therefore their message carries different weight depending on the topic of conversation. E.g. I’d value Tom Waterhouse’s betting tip on the upcoming Melbourne Cup much more than a tip from my butcher.

Google’s AgentRank patent details the inner workings of this, but essentially the process is to connect your Google+ account with your brand or personal page. When you publish information either as a brand or as an Author of content on yours or other websites, this activity is noted.

I believe Google will use this information to gather an understanding of an individual’s expertise and activity on the web and this, whether its you authoring content or whether you’re accepting content from another author, will form part of the algorithm to ascertain trust and topic relevance. In essence, it adds a trust layer over the top of content to attribute the original author and add weight depending on voice.

Action: Authenticate your website and any posts that you author with rel publisher and rel author markup. It’s relatively simple and quick to do.

Social Signals – The New Links

Back in the day, only geeks had websites and websites were the only way to get your voice out on the Internet. Websites link to other websites for various reasons and Google made this aspect a major feature of the algorithm – who links to a website and in what context.

However, I think its fair to say that the percentage of online users who own their own website (their own unique top level domain) has diminished over the years since the invention of social media.

Suddenly, everybody has an online presence.. no domain names, no hosting, nameservers, html or content management systems…. just a way to interact with the web and share what you like. And thats the key – sharing what you like. The majority of people don’t link to sites anymore, they share and comment on them instead.

Whilst the water is murky on how Google other search engines weigh social signals. There’s no doubt that links still remain king, but how long is that going to last?

Action: If it’s shareable, it’s linkable. Focus on publishing and promoting shareable content that your audience will value and the links will follow by the people who do have websites.

Mobile/Tablet Design – Increase Conversions

This isn’t necessarily an SEO opportunity, but its definitely something the big brands are struggling to deal with logistically and the opportunity is huge.

The increase of mobile and tablet users is frightening. More people have access to the Internet on their mobiles than ever – and they take them everywhere. People would rather leave their wallet at home than their mobile.

The issue however comes down to limited, differing screen sizes and alternative navigation methods between devices. If you don’t have a mobile version of your site, then you’re missing out on potential Customers.

Don’t believe me? Compare the number of mobile visitors who convert to your desktop users. If you don’t have a mobile site, I’d be prepared to put a decent chunk on it being A LOT lower as your customers simply find it too hard to use your site.

Whether you’re website is content based and users are having to pinch and pull their way around your site or you’re selling products and there are too many entry fields on your shopping cart to navigate with an index finger… odds are your visitors are finding it difficult and you’re missing out on revenue.

Similarly, Tablets are a new socially acceptable way to be online whilst in the company of others. Desktop, laptops and mobiles are seen as antisocial but tapping away at an iPad on the couch… that’s a new opportunity to engage with a market which didn’t exist before. But do you serve a tablet user the mobile site or the desktop site?

How about a tablet site? Consider making site features especially for a tablet user, with full swipe, tilt and shake actions and you’re website is suddenly a talking point, online and offline, and this increased usability might well see you earn loyalty, reputation, higher conversion and a piece of the market that your competitors will take years to catch up to.

Action: Go responsive.

So, there you have it… three ways to skate to where the puck is going. Do you have any suggestions to add? Share your thoughts below or… I dunno, share, tweet and +1 this post!

in SEO | 1,103 Words