New fathers everywhere are learning what it really means to be a daddy in today’s world. In the years when our grandparents and great grandparents had babies, mothers were the primary caretakers. Fathers worked and kept the household strong and mothers raised the babies and took care of the home. Some of those mothers also worked (I don’t want to discredit any mother out there that did both. That would be super freakin’ hard). Fathers may have been involved, but not to the extent they are today…excluding those low-life, good-for-nothing’s that we all know and hate. I’m going to go ahead and assume you are not one of those, seeing as you opened and are reading an article on advice for parenthood.
Congrats, btw, for entering this new and amazing adventure! This will be an awesome and crazy life changing event that I’m sure your freakin’ out about. Don’t worry dad, you are not alone. Every new parent-to-be is scared. Your whole world is about to change and you have to get ready. As you sit next to your lady’s growing belly wondering about finances, security, baby proofing, and how you’ll handle that first boyfriend, your mind seems to be going a mile a minute. Just don’t forget that you have a partner in this. And she’s just as nervous and as scared as you.
You will be given a lot if advice on, well, everything. Some of it will suck, and some of it will be awesome. It will take time and talking it out with your lady to figure out what works best for your family.
When you first come home with your new bundle of joy, you will most likely not sleep a wink and be totally overwhelmed. And you know what? Just like I said to the new mothers, it’s ok. Everyone feels this way. It’s a whole different world that you’ve just stepped into. Just remember that in time, you will get a routine and start figuring out that little person and things will get easier. If you are not a patient man by nature, you’ll learn to be. This brings me to…
Crying. Babies cry. I know, I know…duh. Right? But there’s a distinct difference between knowing that your baby will cry, and holding your crying baby. It gets stressful when you can’t calm down your baby. It hurts the inside of your heart. A feeling you will become uncomfortably familiar with. Try you best to remain calm during these spouts of “freakin’ out baby”. It will be difficult. You and your lady can take turns holding, rocking and bouncing baby till he calms down. Take turns. With everything. Seriously. This will help the both of you to remain calm. Having a break will allow you to sorta, ‘reset’ your mind to head back in there for another round. One thing that I was told before we had our daughter that stayed with me is, your baby can feel all that you are feeling. If you are stressed and anxious and nervous, they know. They feed off of you and your energy. Sounds hippy-dippy, but its totally true. Try to take a deep breath and relax the best you can. If you need a minute, ask for one. Your lady would rather you ask for a break, then to start acting all crazy while you are holding her baby. That could create way more issues for you then just asking for a minute alone. You’ll get stronger in these situation as they come along. I wouldn’t say it gets easier, but it gets, not as hard…
Babies aren’t breakable….
But, they are. Don’t let the fact that your brand new baby is “breakable” keep you from holding them. If you drop them down the stairs, or try a wrestling move on them, they will break. But moving their arm to get it into a onesie…just move slow and steady and you’ll be fine. Don’t be scared of them. They are pliable.
And I’ll tell you a secret…every parent has a story about dropping their baby, or letting their baby roll of the changing table. It happens. If this does happen to you, please refrain from calling CPS and reporting yourself as being the worst parent ever to walk the earth. You may feel like this, but you are just one of the many this has happen to. It’ll eat you up inside. You may even shed tears. But try not to beat yourself up. You’re not a horrible daddy, nor are you a wimp for crying. Just leave that part out when telling your man friends what happened…
Here’s a fun topic; jealousy. Yep. I said it. It’s hard to ignore, yet almost impossible to talk about. All I have to say is, that feeling you get in your gut when you feel second all the sudden after being first all this time, is normal. Your lady went from being attentive to you and all your needs, to putting almost all that energy into your new baby. Of course you want your little one to get all she needs. And you get that it’s hard to spread out your attention to more than one person. You think about these logical thoughts, then wonder why you might still feel a little jealous. Then maybe a little guilty about even having those feelings to start with. May I offer a view from the mothers side?
We are stressed the hell out trying to figure out how to breast feed, live on no sleep, give our new baby everything they need, and still give you attention so you don’t feel unimportant, because that’s important to us. It’s hard. All I’m askin’ is that try to be patient. Give it time. It will get better. Things will get easier. You’ll eventually get more sleep. And you’ll soon forget what it was like to be jealous of your baby. It’s normal and it will pass. A suggestion? If you are feeling this way, and you feel like you need to talk about it, say it once. No more than that, it’ll just make it harder. You may get your head bitten off, but try to remember, it’s not easy on her either. She did just put herself and her body through what could possibly be the hardest thing she’ll ever do. Reminding her that she has to give so much to other people is not exactly what she’ll want to hear a million times. She knows. And if she’s anything like me, you’ll make her feel like she’s doing a bad job of it if you keep mentioning it over and over.
When things start to get a little easier, you start to find your rhythm, maybe suggest taking her out to dinner just the two of you. It’ll be nice to have alone time, and it’ll be good for her to get out of pajamas and out into the world for an hour or two. And eat real food…without holding a newborn at the same time…with puke on her shoulder and in her hair. So, hold that baby for 20 minutes and let her shower. The shower alone will score you some brownie points. You’re welcome.
Postpartum depression. The first thing you thought of was your lady, right? But up to 25% of new fathers experience postpartum. I know! I just blew your mind, didn’t I? It’s a difficult time. There’s a lot of adjusting and learning and changes happening all at once. It’s no wonder men find themselves suffering from this, as well as women. If you find yourself in this situation, please see your doctor, cause this shit’s real. I should have been on something after my daughter was born. My pride and stubborn nature took over I guess. Don’t suffer if you don’t have to. Asking for help wont make you look weak or any less a man. And I get that pride thing, for men especially, but your new family is bigger than that. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of them.
Learning to be a daddy. Wow. You are a dad. How does that feel? Pretty awesome, right? Being a parent is the hardest and the most rewarding job on the planet. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. It will seem almost impossible those first few days. At three am you’ll be exhausted and loopy and wondering how you are gonna survive. You will. I mean, you sorta have to. Try and remember that you have a partner in this. Lean on each other during all the stages. The fun, the exhausting and the difficult. Don’t try and drive it alone, or you’ll crash. And look like a idiot. That’s why you have each other. Learning to listen to your lady and learning to talk to her are huge in the learning to be a parent thing. You’ll both have opinions about how to raise your little one. Sometimes your agree and other times…not so much. Be willing to talk it out. This is a big freakin’ deal, it’s a baby not dinner. Take it seriously, but have fun with it too. Children give you a second chance at being the person you really want to be. You have to focus in on you and better yourself to the best of your ability. Kids learn by example. Be the dad you want your child to have.
Time management. Okay, how do I say this…You will never have this completely flawless plan where everything is in order and timed perfectly and in it’s place. You will have so much on your plate. Every parent struggles with finding time to fit everything and everyone in. Honestly, I think it’s damn near impossible. I know I had to start letting up on myself, or I was going to go mad. I put too much pressure on myself to get it all done. To be on top of everything ALL THE TIME. I started to feel better as a person and as a mom when I gave myself a little slack. I know my husband had to do the same. There is a lot of pressure to keep up with The Jones’, but don’t kill yourself over the little things. And the big things? They will fall into place. My advice on time management? Take it one day at a time. Go easy on yourself. Like I said in my article to new mothers, no one has it all together, even if Facebook and Twitter say they do.
There will be a time that you ‘learn’ your baby. By this I mean, you’ll learn things like signs for when he is hungry, tired, needs a diaper change, over a situation, scared, happy, needs to be held, and needs to go home. Among other things. Stick to your guns. Don’t let an outside person, no matter who they are (if they are not you or your lady), tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. Bow your chest and remain confident that you know your shit. Get a little cocky about how well you know your baby. But don’t pound a guy in the Target parking lot over a discussion about breast vs bottle…you don’t need to get all crazy. I’m just saying trust your gut and stick to it. People try to push. Probably more towards moms, but they may try it with you too dad. Always do what is best for your family and your baby.
Ask for help. Yeah, yeah, I know….but at least think about it.
This will be a time where some of the guys may slip into the background. Once you’re a parent, the world looks different. Your friends without kids will not truly understand all you are going though. Don’t be surprised if you see much less of them for a while. They will catch up eventually.
Favor? Put your phone down. I know… you are like a drug addict with the damn thing, but I promise Twitter will be there in a few hours. Babies change so freakin’ fast. Try to enjoy them while you can. Before you know it they will be two years old asking for more gummys every five seconds. I would hate for you to look up from that phone one day and wonder where the time went and what did it do with your baby?
Congrats on your new little love. I hope this was helpful despite the fact that I’m a chick and not a dude.