Dad Chris Windle explains how baby brain really does exist - for dads as well as mums...
There is some debate about the existence of baby brain – studies have backed both sides of the argument – but I’m going to settle the matter right now: baby brain exists and it affects dads too.
And why wouldn’t it? Whether you’re in possession of a newborn or one is on the way, your grey matter is taken up with a whole load of new stuff: the competing benefits of Bugaboos and Silver Crosses and an unshakeable anxiety that you’re just not ready, for example.
I’ve been clumsy and stupid most of my life – I spent a large part of my teenage years stubbing a big toe – and these character traits intensified when I hit parenthood, manifesting themselves in several ways:
I’ve always shunned shopping lists, proud of my ability to pop to the supermarket and remember almost everything I went in for. However, I had to reconsider when my memory collapsed under the sheer weight of baby products I was expected to buy when my first child arrived. The number of times I went to Tesco and, irresistibly drawn to the alcohol and biscuit aisles, failed to come home with Calpol became embarrassing. Now I always take a list. I just forget the carrier bags.
Tiredness, the distraction that comes with holding a baby while simultaneously keeping an eye on the cricket score and the stealthy scattering of low-lying infant equipment, creates just the right conditions for an array of domestic accidents. There are very few toys in my house that I haven’t impaled my feet on and sworn at inappropriately – there’s nothing dignified about swearing at a plastic train, especially if it has a smiley face.
You would think I’d have learnt to close the stairgate by now, partly for the wellbeing of my children but mostly because I regularly skewer myself on its open corner as I rush up the stairs. Not only is it a huge shock every single time, it really hurts and leaves a nasty bruise.
I’ve only just got the hang of my children’s names, so there’s no chance I’ll remember yours. When I have a conversation with a stranger while in charge of one or more small children, I’m concentrating only enough to identify when I should say “yes” or “no” or laugh. I’m not taking any information on board, which is why I may appear panicked if I unexpectedly have to introduce you to somebody else.
I used to put my phone down and then pick it up again when I needed it. Now I put my phone down and immediately lose it. I always blame this on a child or my wife but invariably find it exactly where I left it, just obscured by a packet of baby wipes.
But I don’t feel ashamed of my descent into chaos, in fact apart from the use of shopping lists I’m trying to embrace it. And so should you, after all there are very few times in life you can get away with being a total mess.