As a new dad in my first week with baby, I’m learning all kinds of things – about myself, about parenting, and of course, about babies. I’m working to get a grasp on all the changes taking place around me as my wife and I adapt to life with our little bundle of joy, Eva. Some of these changes I anticipated well ahead of time; others, I never saw coming. Here are four things I’ve encountered as a new parent:

1. Texting the only other person in the room is normal

I was never big on texting someone who is close enough that you can talk to them. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned in that way. But I find myself regularly texting my wife while we are in adjacent rooms, or even when we’re in the same room. Because when a fussy baby starts to become groggy, you’re not about to give up 45 minutes of progress just to ask your wife what’s needed at the store later.

2. Basic requirements of the body can be forgotten

Until this week, I would do basic tasks obligated by having a human body as I felt the need to or on some type of schedule, i.e. using the restroom, eating, drinking, and sleeping. I’m now routinely realizing at 4:00 in the afternoon that I haven’t eaten yet. Or that I’ve been “holding it” for three hours now because nearly everything else is more pressing. My basic morning routine has fallen by the wayside. On some days, lack of sleep goes undetected until I am literally falling asleep standing up.

3. Knees and elbows can function as multipurpose tools

It wasn’t ’til baby arrived that I began frequently using my elbow to prop up bottles against couch arms and pull burp cloths and blankets away from my body. I’ve also made the discovery that knees can be used as door dampers when hands and arms are full and you’re avoiding waking baby at all costs.

4. Everything is suddenly a competing priority

Before getting married, I didn’t really have to do much prioritizing outside of work. Once married, there were some additional steps required each day. But things like serving my wife, doing household chores, and volunteering at church were pretty easily managed via Google Keep. But Google Keep can’t “keep” up with the level of realtime prioritization that is at times needed as a parent to a newborn.

It’s like playing Tetris; at first you can take your time deciding where to put each brick and find exactly the perfect spot for all of them. Then the bricks start falling slightly faster, and you have to start thinking ahead and strategizing more, but it’s manageable. Then, without notice, they’re falling everywhere, the brain has kicked into high gear, and you’re just trying to get them not to land right on top of each other to keep the game going. You’re missing opportunities that you never even saw because the goal has changed and the sense of urgency is so high, then suddenly the last brick touches the ceiling and the game is over.

Also, free time is now more of an abstract concept than it is a reality, and you haven’t even gone back to work yet. Because while the baby sleeps, you’re busy taking care of all the things you couldn’t while she was awake (the bottles, the laundry, all that stuff).

As a new dad, that’s pretty much how it is. It requires the kind of real-time prioritization and time management that would make a high-level corporate director’s job look simple. The dishes need doing, fridge and cabinets are bare, your baby is crying and in need of a diaper change and also a feeding, but also all the bottles are dirty and empty. The living room is a mess and someone’s coming in 30 minutes with food. Also you forgot that you needed to pee three hours ago (see point number 2 above). And the molehill of laundry is quickly evolving into a small mountain in front of the washing machine.

Are you a new parent?

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