Five Survival Tips for New Dads
A guest post by FiveHiver Shannon Cooper
It still sounds strange when I hear it, but I am ‘a Dad.’ A still beaming, shiny new Dad at that. Our little baby, Harper, was born last August, and what an amazing journey it has been for my wife- Fiona, Harper and I.
I am no different to any other super proud new Dad, so let’s be honest, for most of us blokes, babies are scary! Almost as scary as a pregnant wife! So I thought I would share five pieces of advice- from the front line- for pending new dads.
1. Learn to be a traffic cop
When your new baby is born, it seems as though everyone from your Great Aunt to the Three Wise Men want to visit your new arrival. And all at once. Which becomes a bit much, especially for your partner who has just been through a rather large physical and emotional experience.
Don’t get me wrong, it is great to be able to share the wonderful moment with your close family and friends, but a constant parade of visitors to your hospital room or family home can be overwhelming.
So, Dads, take it upon yourself to set some ground rules for your visitors. We let people know our baby sleep times and even kept some ‘visiting hours’ for home. We asked people to call before they visit. And we weren’t scared to say ‘no’.
2. Learn to be there
One of the advantages of being a good traffic cop is that it allows you to spend some time alone with your partner and new baby. But it only counts if you are really ‘there’. It doesn’t count if you have your laptop going in the hospital room, or are constantly checking your email on your iphone while you sit on the couch with them.
I was fortunate to be able to take a week off when Harper was born, and I went ‘offline’ for the whole week. I can recall almost every moment of that first week, from the noises and gargles, first bath and first little grin. I can also remember the wonderful bond that my wife and I felt. That is irreplaceable.
Even if you can’t get the time off and need to work 50hrs a week after your baby is born, make sure you come home, switch all the tech off and spend time with your baby and wife; really ‘be there.’ Funnily enough, you’ll be amazed just how relaxing this can be!
And remember, despite what you might think, you can’t make up for this time later.
3. Learn to be patient
Even if you are not a very patient man (like me), you need to learn to cut your partner some slack.
Depending on how your place works, you will need to understand that the house isn’t going to be as clean as it was, your dinner might be (very) late, the pantry might be a bit empty, and you might run out of ironed shirts. And even though you have had a hard day at work, and you can’t work out what the heck your wife has been doing all day (don’t babies sleep most of the time!), be patient. Let some new routines evolve.
I was given some great advice about being patient; ‘if your wife is looking after the baby, who is looking after her?” Dad- that is your job.
4. Learn to cook
My wife was super organised before our baby was born- she filled the freezer with meals. Combined with the casseroles from our wonderful family and friends, we didn’t need to worry too much about cooking for a while. And I became an expert in how to use our Microwave.
Once all of the frozen dinners and goodwill runs dry, a great thing for Dad’s to do is to cook the dinner. It doesn’t need to be fancy- this isn’t MasterChef. It simply means that your wife doesn’t have to worry about the evening meal. Trust me, the less non-baby stuff Mum has to worry about, the better.
And if you are really stuck, check out “Five things to cook when there is nothing in the fridge’ right here on FiveHive.
One of the things I wished I had tried harder to learn much earlier was how to stop our little Princess from crying. The nappies, and bottles were easy, but getting her settled was a challenge on a whole new level. It became too hard for me, so I gave up for a while.
I felt incompetent enough during the first few months, and this was just something else I was ‘useless’ at.- by the way, being a new Dad is gonna belt your ego for a while!
So I started to try a few things to try and help, just to give my wife some respite. For Harper a drive in the car or a walk around the block seemed to work wonders. It really settled her down and stopped her crying. But the best bit was that it meant that my wife had a break from the crying baby, and gave me some time alone with Harper.
My advice then, is try to learn very early what works to settle your baby down. A walk, a drive, white noise, singing or even just gently talking all seem to help. It can be a frustrating period of trial and error.
But don’t give up as early as I did on this one. Your partner will thank you.
Anything to add, Dads?