The Dad Bucket List: What You Should Cross Off Before You're a Dad

by: Steven Auger
Your partner is pregnant! Congrats! What are the essential things to check off your bucket list before you become a dad?

You’ve settled into bed for the night after a long day. In the gym by 5:00 AM, the office by 8:00. Gridlock on the drive home left just enough time to mow the lawn before sundown. Your phone buzzes. A text from your wife, who’s laying right next to you. You see a picture of a plastic stick with two parallel lines.

“Wait, what?! Is this?! Are you?! A baby???”

Your partner simply smiles.

Congratulations, dad-to-be!

Er, not to rain on your tender moment, but that baby will be here before you know it! Most likely there are a few things you'd like to accomplish beforehand. 

Maybe you need some help putting that Dad Bucket List together? Here are a few suggestions to get you started!

Get in Shape

Dad Bucket List Get in Shape

If you've been putting off getting in shape, now is the time to pull out those running shoes. Your life is going to change drastically once you have a newborn at home, and finding the time—and energy—to work out will be tough.

So start hitting the gym. Take up swimming—whatever works for you. Getting into a good routine now will help you keep something going once Baby arrives.

But exercise will get you only halfway there. Get in the habit of eating well, too. If you're a smoker, now's a good time to quit.

Starting your new life as a dad in a healthy place will benefit you, your partner and the baby. You'll have more energy to get through those few first weeks and beyond, and more stamina to carry you through the nighttime feedings.

You can even make a plan to get in shape with your partner.

Take a Babymoon

Consider it one last hurrah for you and your partner before the stork arrives. Just make sure you time it right. If you go in the first trimester, your partner may still be dealing with morning sickness. In the third trimester, she may be too uncomfortable, or you may run into flight restrictions.

My wife and I took a babymoon in her twenty-fourth week. That was during second trimester, when she felt her best. It was also early enough to avoid those airline bans. We adjusted our daily itinerary based on how she felt. The trip wasn’t about tourist sites on a checklist; it was about enjoying time together before we started a family.


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Visit Family

Speaking of trips and family, if you have any in another part of the country you don’t get to see very often, now is the time to visit.

Just like with the babymoon, timing is the key here. Don’t schedule the trip too close to the baby’s due date. The last thing you want is to get a frantic call from your partner saying, "This is it!"

Of course, before you plan the trip, make sure your partner is comfortable with you being away from her for a couple of days.

I went to visit my brother and his family before our first son was born. Before I planned anything, I made sure my wife was okay with it.

Guys' Weekend

Dad Bucket List Guys' Weekend

There's another type of weekend getaway that absolutely belongs on your Dad Bucket List. Guys' Weekend.

Yup, gather up your crew and off you go. The beauty of Guys' Weekend is two-fold. First, it’s like having a second bachelor party. And second, you can pretty much do what you want depending on your tastes.

Like to fish? Rent a cabin on a lake. Partial to nightlife in the big city? Head to Manhattan, Chicago or Miami.

Of course, there’s always the high holy sanctuary for any Guys' Weekend: Vegas, baby!

Just remember to get your partner’s blessing before embarking on this one last adventure with your buddies.

The DIY List

Finally, pull out your DIY List and pick the item YOU want to finish most. Not what your partner wants, but what YOU want. It’s understood that baby prep tasks such as painting the nursery, putting the crib together and installing the car seat will also have to get done. That’s a given.

But we’re talking about the fun home improvement stuff. Maybe you wanted to put an extra room above your garage or you could use a shed in the backyard. Both worthwhile projects, for sure.

Why not shoot for the stars? Always wanted a man cave in the basement? Build it! Maybe trade in the charcoal grill for a full-on outdoor kitchen. Why not?

Whatever you decide, though, give yourself a completion date that's a solid month before your partner's due date. You'll have plenty of last-minute prep work before the baby arrives, not to mention the little guy could come a week or two early. If that happens, your unfinished project will be put on hold indefinitely.

Being a dad is a life-altering change. So check off the items on your Dad Bucket List and get ready for the ride. Just remember, you and your partner are taking it together.