The First Night From A Year Ago

With my daughter just turning one yesterday, I had some time to reflect back on what a crazy first night it was when she came into this world. Behind this confident looking dad constantly posting Instagram photos of how wonderful being a dad is – lies a memory of a traumatic, life changing first night at the hospital. A night that has forever shaped this dad, and is now in the back of his mind whenever the inkling of having a second child comes into conversation.

The dad is more impressed with the lights than the baby.

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


You know when you buy Ikea furniture and before you build, you go through the instructions and feel a little overwhelmed? That’s kind of like becoming a parent. You know what the end product looks like, but the process of getting there is what’s confusing and intimidating.

Babies: Assembly Required

You realize that the end goal is you becoming a competent and loving parent, but in order to become that, you need to go through so many confusing and trying steps.

That is what I realized that first night when she arrived.

I remember that the first night after she came out, when her mom was recovering and I was lying with her skin to skin on a makeshift couch bed, she was so tiny and so delicate.

I thought to myself:

“Oh sh*t, I have a daughter. Oh sh*t, I’m a dad now.”


That moment, I felt like everything that I had prepared myself for was useless.

Skin to Skin and Sing to Sing

I envisioned how I would be as a dad, and I envisioned how it would be like to have a baby. But when it finally happened, I never actually thought about process of become a dad.

Basically, for those first early moments, I just did stuff I saw on TV and movies.

Seriously, at one point in my hysterical mindset I thought, “Oh I must sing this song to her so that she’ll have an emotional attachment to it and be calm in the future whenever I sing”

I talked to her and told her how everything was going to be fine and life is going fantastic.

That was all a lie of course.

I mean can you imagine sleeping peacefully in a warm toasty bed only to be forced out to the cold winter streets – wet and naked?

I’d be pissed and freaked out.

For the rest of the night I remember her waking up and crying every one and a half hours. And I remember getting up each interval changing her diaper and bringing her to mom for feeding.

After the feeding I would put her in a loose swaddle and rock her so that she would fall asleep.

It Ain’t 5:05 In The Afternoon

All that crying. 

It sounded like they cross-bred one of those rubber chickens with a pterodactyl.

What a truly terrible sound.

I felt bad that she was crying and disturbing her mom, so I just started walking around the maternity ward shoeless with a tiny baby in circles.

At one point I even thought, maybe if I walk her over to the nurses desk, they’ll see how distraught I look and help me hold her for a bit.

Nope.

They just politely smiled and gave me a “your-wife-just-went-through-labour-and-you-better-hold-on-to-that-newborn-look.

Fair enough.

Basically I was so tired and overwhelmed, and I thought:

Shhhhhhh*t I have a daughter now, and thiiiis is how it’s going to be?


I really didn’t think it would be that hard.

But it was.

And it’s something that I’ll never forget.

Ever.

Of course things got better little by little as each day passed. And when we finally were discharged from the hospital, we felt relatively confident that we were able to do this.

And we were right.

As the weeks turned into months, and the months now became a year life is pretty sweet.

“Don’t drop baby, don’t drop baby.” 🙏😂

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


As I write this, my daughter is quietly taking a morning nap, and last night I even slept for 7 hours!

Life is good right now.

Really good.

Yes, there still are tough days and tough nights. But nothing can measure up to that first night.

I think the experience I gained on that first night was exactly what I needed to prepare me as a dad.

And that’s the thing about becoming a parent, you can read all the books, go to the pre-natal classes, or talk to seasoned parents about their experiences. But when the moment comes and a life is gifted to you, you forget everything just learn on the fly.

And you’ll never forget. Ever.

Once assembled, babies are great.

 

building instagram account for dad bloggers

Building a Successful Instagram Account As A Dad Blogger

I’ve been using Instagram for over three years now. I started off posting silly photos of my dog; later I tried to show off my worldly mileage by becoming a wannabe travel photographer; then to a street photographer creeping at strangers; then to foodie who only ate at the same places; and now to guy who posts photos of his baby.

Suffice to say, Instagram has been the manicured and groomed mascot to my online life. So when I finally decided to transform my Instagram persona to a dad blogger, I tried to gather all my years of experience to figure out if there is a secret formula to building a healthy and engaging account.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post, you probably had the same question as me in thinking, “How does a dad blogger like me get more followers on Instagram?” If you’re not a dad blogger, don’t worry, these points are very valid as it can be used for anyone who wants to increase their Instagram engagement.

Face it – as dad bloggers, we’re hardly ever stand a chance when it comes to having a strong Instagram following. Most of us are regular Joes, who do not have nearly as much to offer to the Instagram crowd as the youthful and energetic teens. (Man I sound like an old man.)

In a crowd of dad bloggers, there’s probably only a handful of Instagram Dad bloggers who are the true superstars. But you know what? That’s totally fine, cause what we lack in numbers, we can make up in quality interactions.

I hate to talk about numbers, as my numbers are embarrassingly low still. In fact, I have yet to hit the 1000 followers mark, which in today’s age is pretty basic. However, within the past three months I noticed that my follower count has dramatically improved from 200 followers to now close to 500.

What’s the secret?

Well, for the past few months I’ve employed the following three rules:

  1. Creating a consistent gallery style

  2. Posting genuine comments to similar accounts

  3. Liking and following similar niche accounts

Okay, I’d admit, this is nothing new and I’m sure many of you have already tried this strategy. But if you tried and stick with these rules, I guarantee you that your engagement and follower count will improve dramatically.

 

1. Creating a consistent gallery style

Early on with my Instagram account, I would basically upload a photo I considered “nice.” Here’s how my gallery looked like a few years ago:

screenshot_20160822-003830.png

As you can see, there are some pretty interesting shots, but none of them really follow a consistent theme. You see some photos with borders and some without; some shots with colour, and some without. It’s basically a metaphor of how messy I am as a person.

Visually, this is not appealing, and for a prospective new follower, this is something that they don’t want to see. They’re thinking, “I liked this photo of Red Pandas, but why are there now photos of school buses?”

The main thing here is to post consistent pictures, and more importantly, use a consistent visual style. Fast forward to my gallery now:

screenshot_20160822-002752.png

 

Visually, it looks more consistent. While I still have the occasional shot of food (a dad’s still gotta eat), or a shot of some awesome trees, the style and colour of the photo is still consistent throughout.

The takeaway here is that for new follower’s you want them to know what to expect from your feed, and what they’ll get is a visually consistent gallery.

 

2. Posting genuine comments to similar accounts 

I think our brains now automatically filter out Instagram comments like, “Nice!”, “Cute!”, “Great shot!”, etc. It’s simply not genuine. If you want to get strong engagement for your photos, then you need to do the same for others.

How to take a candid and intimate shot like this one in three easy steps. 1) Pre-make that candid happy dad facial expression. 2) Hold baby high up to your cheek. If your baby likes savoury salty foods use your face sweat to your advantage. 3) Take 30 shots until you get it right. Simple right? 😂

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀Ingus (@snappingus) on

If you want to have quality and meaningful followers, then you need to attract them with quality and meaningful comments. Unless you’re The Rock, or David Beckham, you won’t have a hoard of followers liking your photos and following your account. So put in the time and the results will pay off.

Most of the comments I get are from people whom I have developed a rapport with. If someone comments or likes your posts, be sure to take some time to look at their account and comment back.

So instead of using generic comment, really talk about what you liked about their photo, as well as how it relates back to your kid. You’ll find that if you comment thoughtfully, the engagement and following will come naturally.  If you want quality, you have to put in quality. There’s no other way.

 

 

3. Liking and following similar niche accounts

There’s no faster way to attract the people that you want to attract that to like your niche group. So in this case this will be other dad bloggers. This ties in to the previous point of putting in quality, well it certainly applies to liking other people’s content. The more you like, the better you increase your reach.

If your feed and account comprises of people within your niche, you’re more than likely to have your posted shared or commented on, so try to like what aligns with your brand, and you as a daddy blogger.

So there you have it, if you try and employ these three strategies for the next little while, I assure you that you will not only increase your Instagram engagement, but you will also enjoy using Instagram a whole lot more.

Good luck and let me know if it’s worked for you.

 

And also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram as well. 🙂

 

Dear Me From One Year Ago

Dear Me from One Year Ago,

 

If you are reading this your life will change in a week. I know by now both you and your wife have been trying to conceive without success. I want to tell you both to not lose hope. By now both of you have learned that getting knocked up is not as easy as it seems like on TV and in movies, and both of you probably feel pretty down on yourselves.

Don’t worry.

In one week when your wife goes to the doctor to check up on pelvic pain, you’ll both realize that she did not pull or strain anything, and that it’s really her lady parts doing some Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for a new inhabitant.

 

Yep that's your kid
Yep, that’s you holding a photo of your kid

Sorry to spoil the surprise a little but hear me out: Your life is about to change as things will never be the same, but the funny thing is, things will also feel so right.

Let me get some things out of the way. Your hometown Raptors will get swept in the playoffs, so don’t waste time there. I mean still cheer, but just know that it’s not the end of the world when the Wizards dismantle your team. The only significant thing about the playoffs is that you’ll find out she’s pregnant in at the doctor’s office while you stream the game with headphones on. The wife will come out, and give you a look that you’ll never forget.

Remember and savour that moment as I still do.

From the moment you find out, you’ll go through a lot of changes. Not nearly the same as your wife, but enough for you to realize that pregnancy is truly a shared experience.

For starters you will become the food police. Seriously, everything your wife puts in her mouth you’ll do a quick google search to see if it’s poisonous for her and the baby. My advice is to be reasonable but firm.

You’ll also learn that your wife will have crazy food swings, and get this: she’ll hate eating chicken. WTF right? How can she hate chicken? That’s your favourite animal!!! It’s just the hormones man. So stop reading and get an order of Popeyes in your system while you still can, cause the next nine months you can put a hold on eating poultry.

You’ll also buy a lot of crap. I mean a lot. Some stuff you didn’t even know existed. But don’t fret, most of the junk you buy is actually useful, so just smile and nod when she asks you if it’s okay to buy whatever. When you are shopping just don’t forget to have fun along the way. I know you will…I mean check this out:

Dad-to-be testing...oh geez.
You’ll make shopping fun…and embarrassing

Yep, you’ll still pull crap like this…And even though I’m warning you not to be an idiot, I know you’ll make it a goal to definitely do it.

Oh one final thing about buying stuff: your baby will be a little bit bigger, so just ease off on the newborn stuff.

So far, things sound okay, right? Well, here’s where you need to pay a little closer attention as I’m warning you now, not everything is as light-hearted and peachy.

You yourself will grow up more. I know you may think that you already know everything there is to know and that you are already mature. But something inside you will change, and you will somehow become more appreciative of life. You will appreciate your wife more, and definitely appreciate mom and dad more than ever. This is because you will begin to think like a parent and understand what they went through.

You're going to want to get comfortable searching on your phone on your back
You’re going to want to get comfortable searching for stuff on your back

What does “thinking like a parent” mean? Basically you’ll begin to worry about things. A lot of things. You’ll have some insecurities about your role as a husband and father. You’ll have many nights of waking up and googling answers. You will dig though forums and message boards to see whether what your wife is experience is common. Let me tell you this, the more you read into it, the worse it becomes. But you have a big role in all of this. The thing is you need to keep your wife sane and calm during those moments, so be the strong, calm, optimistic husband that you are.

Weeks 6, 8, 20, and 25 will be scary and both you and your wife will go through some heavy stuff. But just know that after each of these episodes, your bond with your wife will become even stronger, and both of you will be able to talk and laugh about these moments eventually. I’ll spare you the details, but you’ll quickly learn that pregnancy is f*cking scary.

You’ll also figure out that most people who share great news about pregnancy on social media are not trying to brag about their happiness, but rather they are simply celebrating all of the little triumphs after facing the scary moments.

 

Your perspective will change and you’ll never fear and doubt so much in your life, but that’s just the process of it all. Just protect your wife and yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.

This was me in NYC, ditching the wife to do a photo shoot. I will never live this down.
That’s you, and the last cool thing you’ll do in a while. Thank your wife for letting your ditch her for this.

You know how you think you’re so cool in taking street photos? Well that part of your life will draw to an end. Bummer right? Well not quite, you’ll quickly find a new photography outlet, and trust me: it’s wonderful. And if you’re not convinced, let me tell you this: you’ll have a last hurrah so to speak with taking pictures. In fact, you’ll ditch your pregnant wife to go to New York for something photography related, and it will be one of your best moments but also one of your tougher moments. You know what I said about appreciating your wife? You will really appreciate her after this, so never forget it even if she eventually does.

One thing I want to warn you about is to go to the movies while you still can. I can tell you that the last movie you’ll watch before becoming a dad will totally be worth it, and your wife will make it through the entire movie. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Han Solo. (Oops spoiler). Just relax and try to watch the movie without worrying that her water will break. It’ll still be a few days until it really happens.

Here’s a warning though, it might be a good idea to stock up on spicy Korean noodles around the time she’s due. Just saying.

At this point you are probably wondering about the finish line. Well, let me just tell you that your wife will have a smooth labour and delivery. However, both of you will be faced with some complications after the delivery. It’ll be scary, and both of you will be tested. Just know that you’ll both tough it through. Simply trust in your love for your wife, and trust in your strength as a husband. I know you hate asking for help, but you will need to swallow your pride and ask for help. So just face it now: your family and friends will pull through, huge.

I know what I told you sounds frightening, but I am not trying to scare you or warn you to change course.

As a matter of fact the journey you are about to embark on is totally worth it.  As I type this now both your wife and baby are sound asleep and everything just feels right. There’s no better feeling than what I am feeling right now, and I’m damn excited for what you are about to face in the coming year.

Enjoy every moment you are about to experience, because in one year’s time you would want to remind yourself all the awesome you just went through.

Sincerely,

You From One Year Later Today

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P.S. For whatever reason you’ll deciding that “growing” a “beard”  is a great idea. Well this photo might convince you otherwise:

Don't kid your self
Don’t kid yourself Wolverine, use that razor.

 

How To Hack a Pampers/Huggies Wipes Container

Do you hate choosing sides? When my wife and I try to figure out what to eat, we need to factor in a 10 minute discussion period for: “It doesn’t matter, what do you want to eat?”

You know what else is terrible in making you choose?

Baby wipes.

Couldn’t they just make it a standard size? The containers are never the correct size. STOP MAKING US CHOOSE!!!

You don’t see different size Coke and Pepsi cans from vending machines.

Any ways, while refilling the Pampers wipe boxes, I noticed that the Huggies wipes do not dispense nicely. Every time I need to grab one for a change, I end up having to pluck it out with my fat Dad fingers. This is risky business especially when I need to concentrate holding down the baby as well as avoid any pee/poop splatter she has in store.

The fact is, I need the diaper changing experience to be as quick and easy as possible.
Continue reading “How To Hack a Pampers/Huggies Wipes Container”

7 Tips to Help You Take Better Photo’s of your Baby With Just your Phone Camera

When I check out mommy/daddy blogs/Instagram accounts, and see photos of their cute babies and toddlers, most of them are pretty good. I do say most of them, some of them are kind of lacklustre and don’t do their kid’s justice. I mean it shouldn’t really matter if they’re not professionally done, but I always think in my head, “well I think they could do a little better.”

I am by no means an expert (a photo snob – yes), but I feel that I have been quite successful in capturing some of my daughters moments and expressions.

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

 This shot was taken with an iPhone

The purpose of this post is to share some of the techniques and knowledge that I use when I take pictures, and hopefully this can help improve the quality of the photos that you take of your kids.

So if you ever asked “How do I take better photo’s of my baby?” I hope this post can offer you some guidance and put you on the right track. It is safe to assume that most people reading this already have a phone with photo taking capabilities so that is why my tips focus on taking good pictures with just a cellphone, not a fancy DSLR or expensive Mirrorless camera. I mean, having children is expensive enough, I’m not going to advise you to spend more money on some stupid camera when you have everything you need already.

Continue reading “7 Tips to Help You Take Better Photo’s of your Baby With Just your Phone Camera”