So you’re going to be a new dad, CONGRATS! But, new dads need help. If you’re anything like I was when my wife told me about our first child gracing the world, you’re elated and terrified at the same time. I remember that night like it was yesterday too, my wife snuck into the kitchen in our home in Texas and handed me a pregnancy test. It was positive and my greatest dream was realized. But at the same time thoughts of “I’m entrusted with now raising and protecting a brand new life and how they turn out is a direct impact of how I raise them.”
You may be in the same boat and so I give you my best advice (though only six years old at this point) for new dads.
Tip #1: New Dads – Enjoy the Lead-up to Birth
Once you find out that you and your wife are going to be welcoming a new member of your family, you’re going to feel the urge to have everything prepped and ready to go the very next day. Let me caution you: be present during your wife’s pregnancy. You have about eight to nine months to get the house prepared and trust me it’ll get done.
This is the last time that it’ll be just you and your wife for at least (and hopefully only) eighteen years. Take the time to date and do fun activities and spend time together. This is very important. Take the necessary time to prepare your home but don’t forget to enjoy the company of your spouse.
Additionally, and I think this goes without saying, your wife is going to have urges and cravings that may seem weird. When my wife was pregnant, like clockwork we’d lay down in bed around 11-11:30 at night, and the moment my head hit the pillow she’d crave Taco Bell. It became a running joke, but also an enjoyable time. I’d head out to Taco Bell and get our “usuals” and then I’d come back and we’d enjoy a meal together while watching whatever show it was we were hooked on at the time.
This is a fun time, enjoy it.
Tip #2: Recognize your role in the room
So, the day is here. You’ve grabbed the “go bag” and are in your hospital room for the final countdown (if that song isn’t on your hospital playlist you’ve failed, by the way). What is the new dad’s role in the hospital room? STAY OUT OF THE WAY.
Unless you’re an MD, the best thing you can do is to be at the head of the bed and comfort and coach your wife as she prepares to give birth. Every birth is different too, so there’s no playbook for this – the baby may come quickly or take hours – that’s up to the little guy or gal. If your wife is taking meds, most likely she’s going to be sleeping so finding a way to keep busy either with a book or Netflix can really help to pass the time.
As the moment arrives, but ready to be commanded in many different ways – by nurses, doctors, and your wife. Just remember these words: “Yes ma’am.” Whatever is asked of you do it and then get ready for the next instruction. Once the little guy or gal is there, momma gets the first hold – skin to skin – and you can put your hand on her head wiping the hair out of her face so you both can enjoy the new life you’ve created.
Then, as they hand you your new son or daughter, bask in the moment. No one else is in the room except you or the little one you’re holding. Enjoy that moment because there is no better feeling in the world than that exact moment.
Tip #3: Learn to cook among other things
With the new baby here, there are going to be a lot of things that change around your home. Your schedule and routine will shift because that little guy or gal now dictates when they need to be fed, changed, or put down to sleep. The only way you and your wife keep their sanity is to team up and divide and conquer.
You’re going to need to pay attention to the things we all have taken for granted our wife usually took care of for us. Here’s where we step up. If she’s busy feeding and taking care of your new baby, then some of the housework is going to fall to you. Don’t be scared of it, embrace it and knock it out of the park.
One of the biggest rooms this occurs in is the kitchen. Cooking meals and cleaning the dishes will go a long way to helping the team succeed. No one likes to wake up to dirty dishes in the sink and ordering out every meal isn’t usually the best option. Learning to cook and cleaning up afterward is a must for new dads, even though we’re tired, we still can push through and do our best.
Here are some resources on how to meal plan and churn out easy-to-make meals:
- 50 meal ideas that take 15 minutes or less
- 5 Super simple dinners to help parents survive
- How to meal plan: A beginners guide
Tip #4: Rest when you can, but serve your wife
One of the first things to go when you have a new baby is your sleep routine. I don’t care how disciplined you are, a baby changes everything. Feedings every three hours, diaper changes, and for the most part if your wife is breastfeeding this doesn’t involve you. But should it? I cannot and will not tell you how to decide this but it is something that your wife and you will need to decide together.
With our third child, my wife and I did a mixture of breastfeeding and bottle feeding with pumped milk. This allowed us to “share” in the feeding experience but also allowed us to develop a bit of a schedule to help take the load off of my wife. I would bottle feed at 11 pm and she would sleep, then as our little guy woke up at around 2-3 am, she’d get up and feed him and I’d take the next shift. Was it perfect? No of course not because even the best plans often go awry, but it was an attempt.
Your wife is coming through the most traumatic experience her body can undergo, doing whatever possible to take some of the burden off will help serve her well. But, you too need sleep. Sleeping when possible is often advisable, but not at the expense of other things that need to be done around the house or for your wife and child.
Seek to serve them well, but rest as often as you can.
Tip #5: Avoid pajamas with buttons at all costs
Okay, this may not seem to “fit” with the other ones, but I’m telling you this may be the best advice of all the tips. Buttons on pajamas are the devil’s playground for parents. They are quite simply the worst thing to ever happen to parenthood. I’m sure you’ll be blessed with some during your baby shower, but return them at all costs!
There is nothing worse than waking up to change your child in the middle of the night being half asleep and having to fight with buttons that never seem to line up correctly. It is quite simply the worst. It may seem trivial, but if you take nothing else away from this blog, believe this with your entire being. Avoid buttons like they are the plague.
There you have it, the 5 best tips I can give to you new dads. Again, this is an exciting time in your life so enjoy it to the fullest degree you can, and remember that you’ve been entrusted with new life to raise them to the best of your ability.