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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
New dad may find focusing tough
By Richard Warry
BBC News health reporter

Charles Kennedy
An interesting month ahead
They say a bouncing new baby is the ultimate asset for a politician on the look out for votes.

Who needs to kiss other people's babies on the hustings when you can coo over your very own new arrival?

Liberal Democrat leader and proud new father to a baby boy Charles Kennedy plans to take some time off to support his wife Sarah.

But he says he is confident he can juggle the twin demands of fatherhood and trying to boost the Lib Dem vote on 5 May.

No doubt this morning he is probably feeling that he can change 10 nappies a day, and secure a 100-seat majority in Parliament.

As a first time father, particularly at the ripe old age of 45, this morning he will almost certainly be walking on air.

It might be the oldest cliché in the book, but there really is no other feeling to compare to holding your child in your arms for the first time.

Friendly warning

But beware. Charles Kennedy may feel like a super-human for now, but it will take an almost super-human effort for him to retain the intense focus on election campaign demands in the coming weeks.

I know that to my cost, and I wasn't leading a national political party when my daughter was born in 2003.

I pride myself, as a journalist, on keeping a level headed, sceptical approach to life - it's kind of a must in my line of work.

But from the moment my daughter turned up normality was tilted on its axis - and didn't right itself until a good few months later.

Of course, I didn't realise it at the time. In fact, if you had asked me when I left hospital with my new family in tow, I would probably have confidently predicted that I could win a 100 seat majority in Parliament too.

But within a week, I had written off my car, and become involved in a ridiculous and deeply stupid physical altercation with some menacing youths while visiting my parents as a father for the first time.

Even now I'm at a loss to explain why. Simply I must have been walking round in a day dream.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that Charles Kennedy will do anything so silly - and I think John Prescott's children were grown up when he threw his infamous left jab in 2001.

But it might just be worth him remembering that fatherhood can play some odd tricks on you - especially in the first few weeks.

Your comments

Practice putting the car seat in and out of the car at least twenty times BEFORE you put the baby in it! Sleep as much as you can and remember to WIN the election!
James Fuller, Stoke on trent

Don't be too proud to accept grandparents' help whenever offered, it certainly helped me and my wife when our children were born.
David Dyke, Walsall

Relax. Menzies will do great work. Tell him to mention you at the press conferences and then stay away for a while. If you enjoy family time and trust your colleagues, the votes will follow .
Tim Andrews, High Wycombe

Congratulations, but Heaven help him! I thought before we had ours (I was 42) that I could handle anything. Four years on I'm only just getting a sleep pattern back. Just remember that when you're arguing with your partner it's not her you're angry at, you're just too tired. Then whoever realises this first calls "time out" and you both walk away from the argument until you've calmed down and can discuss things rationally. Stopped us killing each other over the last few years!
Lyndon, Cardiff, Wales

Get an au pair if you can, even part time, to help when you're not there. Taking the full time pressure to care for the usual domestic chores and the new baby off your wife makes all the difference. I speak from the experience of our third baby who was born last November. I also happen to be 45! No problem there.
Peter, London

Get a nanny if you can afford it - and some sleeping tablets if you can't
King Rollo, Cleobury
Get a nanny if you can afford it - and some sleeping tablets if you can't.
King Rollo, Cleobury

Take all the time off you need, enjoy being with your wife and baby, and don't worry about the election!! People are at last realising that there is an honest leader of a truly democratic party in this country! Good luck on the 5th!
Em, Newcastle, Staffs

Parenting maybe harder than it looks, but, just remember so long as they know you love them, it is alright to get on with other things.
Leanne, Huddersfield, UK

Listen to everyone, then do as your heart tells you. Enjoy your son!
Kirsty, London, UK

Do not worry about it too much, it comes naturally. Looking after children is over hyped and over marketed
Alan, Ipswich

Among the mountain of baby paraphernalia we received when our daughter was born last year was a large plate of fruit and pastries from a Japanese friend (she tells us this is a traditional gift), for which we are still grateful. It really brought home how little we were looking after ourselves for that first couple of weeks. So my advice is to tell friends/relatives to send food for the parents rather than clothes for the baby.
Ross, London

Great news! I've thought for a long time that Charles Kennedy was "the Daddy" now I know he is. While Charles Kennedy and Sarah won't want to use the new born as media fodder, please do let us see him!
Jon Bramall, Dudley Borough

Ignore all advice!
David, London

I know this is going to be hard but you will doubtless be missing the first few weeks of your baby's life. My advice. Try to make time each day for one feed, one you can do, and take that time to look deep into your baby's eyes. As a first time Dad at 40, I was thrilled and I know that the times I spent feeding my firstborn established a strong bond. Enjoy the baby and the election.
Graham, Daventry, Northants

Give up on politics and become a full time Dad.
Richard, London

Congratulations to the three of you, there's nothing in the world like it
Ross, Dorset
Take a full three days off for wife and baby. It's equivalent to a lifetime for the baby, a critical time for the wife and only a blink for the public. The country will only get involved in the election when we can see the end of it coming i.e. in the last two weeks - keep your powder dry. Congratulations to the three of you, there's nothing in the world like it.
Ross, Dorset

First of all congratulations. Best advice I can give is try and grab a nap whenever the baby does because some days this may be the only chance you get.
Jamie Reeves, Hounslow UK

Simon, Stockport, UK

Forget the election Charles! I have a five week old girl and she is far more important than anything. I will vote for you if you give fathers full paternity pay as I took a massive pay cut for my two weeks and I'm a teacher!
Jonathan Spencer, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I can't give Charles and Sarah any advice other than wishing them all the luck in the world, but if they want to offer me any advice (on looking after a newborn, not politics!) they can as I'm expecting my first baby in seven weeks time!
Rachel, Bracknell, Berkshire

1) Enjoy it! 2) Make time for yourselves and your baby away from well-wishers 3) Forget about sleeping 4) Use re-usable nappies for the daytime and biodegradable nappies at night. There is no need for the 'high-tech' disposables if you are an attentive parent 5) Announce a policy to introduce fully paid paternity leave with immediate effect (mine is due in September!)
John, Meysey Hampton

Congratulations to you both! The greatest advice I can give is to accept any offers of help, rather than try to do everything. A new baby and immediate changes to your otherwise ordered-world create an emotional rollercoaster and lots of stress, if you don't just go with the flow. Enjoy your beautiful baby and good luck with the other thing!
Susan, Haverhill

Well done Charles and Sarah! My advice (to both): whenever you can - sleep. Even if just for 5 mins. Oh, and try to keep to proper mealtimes, as it's easy to miss simple things like eating. Most of all: savour these days, they are precious indeed. Now Charles, let's have those 100+ seats...
Mikey Roberts, Basel, Switzerland

As babies don't become interesting until they can start to control their bodily functions I wouldn't worry about taking time out to fight an election. I dare say Mrs K will have loads of people around to support and I don't think the baby will even notice his daddy isn't present.
Alex Cahill, Farnham, Surrey

For the first two months, the baby will just eat, sleep, cry etc. Looking after mum is the crucial job for now - make sure you do that well and you won't go far wrong!
Julian, Hexham, Northumberland

Congratulations on your baby boy. Glad you're having a few days with baby and mum. Just don't burn yourself out . I hope you really do well in the election, you are by far the best leader and best party
Ian O'Brien, Ealing

1) For your sake, Baby and mother comes first. 2) For the country's sake, win the election.
Tim Hill, Bedford

Take enjoyment from every moment you can, as it passes in an instant
Jon Buckle, Liverpool, UK
It's the hardest job in the world, but every day it gets a little easier. The most important thing is to try to take enjoyment from every moment you can, as it passes in an instant. Good luck!
Jon Buckle, Liverpool, UK

Announce a policy on the disposable nappy mountain. It is easy to be Green until you have to make personal choices!
Owen Humphrys, Fife

Make sure that any visitors to the baby and mother do some chores (good examples are making lunch, Hoovering the staircase etc.) The important thing is make time for the baby and parents to spend time together.
Jon Cartwright, Weymouth

If you can fit them in the house/flat, let the cooing grandparents take the nightshift
Bryan McGrath, WSM, England

Keep your in-laws out of your house
Marina, Essex