Everyone feels for the new mom because after all she is the one that just gave birth. Her hormones are still shooting straight up and falling like the anvil in a Wiley Coyote cartoon. She is most likely the one staying up most nights and if she is breastfeeding that is something that also takes a toll on her. Since they are both new parents neither one of them know exactly what they are doing or what is normal in any situation. Dads tend to get left out and people often forget they are new at this too and it can take a toll on them as well. Sometimes they get a little pity from their buddies and co-workers but usually not so much. And so you will not misunderstand I am not pro dad, anti mom, but I know that the new dads have some adjustments to make as well. So I am going to offer up a few suggestions for you first time fathers that may help a little.
- Take a time out – Even if you are not the one getting up with the baby all night chances are you are still getting awoke by the call of your newborn every night and maybe several times a night. Lack of sleep, hearing babies cry, the phone ringing with well wishers or mom-in-laws, and a sometimes cranky partner who has been up most of the night will start to wear on your nerves. Just take a few minute time out by walking outside and taking some deep breaths. Walk around the house or the block. I would not suggest leaving your wife alone for long and I would offer them the same break as I am sure they could use it as well.
- Take time with family – If your company offers time off for you as well as your wife as many companies do be sure and take advantage of that time. Spend some time with your newborn and get to know them. Help out your wife and make the transition easier for her to get the routine down. Play with your newborn and bond with them just as your wife is because before you know it they will grow up and you will not have the relationship you want. Many fathers aren’t really interested until the baby starts walking and talking but if you wait until then you miss a great time of sweet bonding. And besides all this your wife will appreciate you and needs your support.
- Go places – After a routine gets set start taking your wife and child on adventures. Things do take longer with baby in tow but it is so much easier to go places with a newborn that you can carry around or push around at this point and they generally sleep quite a bit of the time. Once they start to walk and talk is when it really gets hard to go out to restaurants and attractions. It gets even more complicated because then you really have to watch out for the little ones and they demand even more attention. Don’t be afraid to take the baby out places, as long as they are dressed right and you have all the essentials with you there should be no problem.
- Set aside time alone – Get a trusted relative to watch the baby and have some time to nurture each other. You will both need the one on one attention because believe me when you have the newborn it seems that everything is about them. It is not anyone’s fault that is just the way it is. They just came out into a crazy new world with sights, sounds, and feelings they have never had too and it takes quite a while for them to adjust. You guys need each other and you need to support and encourage each other. It is important not to forget about the relationship between you and your wife, you both need the encouragement.
- Don’t schedule too much – Do your best not to have too much company or too many activities so that you are always on the go. You need time to get used to each other and get to know each other as a family unit. In the beginning everyone wants to come see the baby or you are taking the baby to see someone. This is great but just be wise and limit the commitments you make in the first few months for all of your sakes.
- Pediatrician – I am sure you both did a lot of research and study to find the perfect pediatrician for your sweet little bundle of love. Make sure he or she takes phone calls and can meet your needs at a moments notice. All new parents have questions, when possible make a list of questions to take to your next visit. If an emergency arises or a situation you are not sure of then you need to have a doctor that you can call up to get answers and reassurance. There are some pretty crazy things that come up with newborns that you may think are life threatening situations but most often they are not. Do not panic but do have a good doctor who is willing to take the time to talk to you and has a good attitude.
- Guys night out – New moms will need a night out with other moms to discuss all the new mom stuff and in turn dads should have a group of guy friends that consist of some new and some veteran dads. It is always a good idea to discuss things with another guy that is going through or that has gone through the same things you are. Encourage your wife to take some time off now and then and you do the same. It is good for your mental health and the whole family.
- Stay healthy – You are dad and everyone needs you. You need to keep exercising even if it means taking the baby out with a jogging stroller and giving mom a nap time. You need this to alleviate stress and to stay healthy, or you could do it as a family. Make sure everyone is eating right. Your wife may be too tired to do much cooking right now. If you have a good support system in your family ask them for help in preparing a few meals. Go pick up a healthy meal from a good restaurant. You and your wife need to stay healthy for all of your sakes so watch your health.
- Take advice, read up on babies – Remember to listen to those that are experienced dads and do a little reading on what to expect from your baby. It is always good to be prepared and get information to that when a situation arises you will be prepared. But watch out for the pessimist in the crowd and be wise and choose the right people to listen to. Not everyone has good advice and knows what they are talking about, they just want you to think they do. It is your baby and as you spend time with them you will know what is best.
- Don’t take things too seriously – By all means take your responsibilities seriously but when things start to get crazy or tempers get short be smart and lighten things up with a little humor. Laughter is really good medicine. Your wife is as worn out if not more worn out than you are. When things start to feel like you are in a pressure cooker try to think of something to laugh about, it will help ease the tension and sooth the tempers.
Being a dad is a wonderful thing, it is all in the way you handle it. You need to have a little extra love, patience, and understanding for your wife and cut everyone a break right now including yourself. Enjoy your children while they are little because it does not last. If you blink you will miss it. And have fun!
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