5 Hacks for New Dads
Is there anything in life that changes you as fast as having a kid? Before our first was born, I remember worrying about changing diapers.
I actually watched a YouTube video on it.
If only that were the worst of my concerns. Once that baby gets here, you learn how to change a diaper real quick. You learn how to mimic the “Mom Rock” while you’re trying to get your baby to sleep. And you learn a whole lot more about nursing, bottles, pumps, and formula than you probably ever wanted to know.
The thing no one talks about is how new dads cope while taking care of a newborn and their mom. (In case you weren’t aware, moms are going to need extra care as they recover from childbirth.) Having been through this three times, I feel like I have at least a few pearls of wisdom for you newbs.
5 New Dad Hacks so you Don’t Lose Your Mind
Don’t listen to advice. Unless it is a doctor, midwife, lactation consultant or other licensed professional, just nod, smile, and fake a diaper emergency to get away.
Everyone and their mother (literally) has advice for you on the best way to do this or that, and how you can help your little one grow up to be the next LeBron James, Steve Jobs or Picasso.
Don’t listen to them.
Find what works for you and your family, and do that. It will take trial and error, and don’t be afraid to switch things up until you feel as sane as possible. (Yes, I realize that I am giving you advice on not taking advice. Don’t get too meta on me.)
Take time off. It seems crazy that I have to mention this (and hopefully paternity leave is a thing now), but plan to take at least a week off of work.
Use vacation days, call in sick, whatever you can do short of losing your job, do it. You won’t be worth anything to anyone for a while anyway, so you might as well be home helping out and catching quick cat naps when you can.
Bring in outside help. Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Neighbor, whomever you trust can be called in as reinforcements. If you belong to a church, they may want to set up a meal train.
If your parents want to come hold the baby and let you take a nap, invite them in. You don’t have to (and can’t) do it all yourself.
Always have backups. This goes for everything from diapers and wipes to outfits (for adults and baby) to plans for feeding.
You may have to go out and exchange all the newborn sized diapers your coworkers got you for size 1’s because your little chunk weighed over 10 pounds at birth.
You may have a baby that is born five weeks early or a baby that needs to go back to the hospital after you bring them home. (Happened all three times for us.)
Always have a plan b. And c. And maybe even d. Or – as my wife suggests – just don’t have a plan and everything will go according to plan.
Don’t take baby away from mom. And if you do, leave a note. If this is your first child, never underestimate the amount of love mom has for her baby – or her protective instinct.
Your life will be easier if you continue to treat mom and baby as one being – at least for a little while. At one point I got a frantic call from my wife while I was on a walk with our newborn asking me where the baby went. I thought I was being nice and letting her nap, she thought the baby had been kidnapped. Emotions ran high that day.
Even though she was obviously suffering from sleep-deprived, postpartum, insanity (it’s seriously a thing), I agreed to leave her a note the next time I took the baby for a walk so she could sleep or shower or have a little time away from baby.
For dads that have been there before, this is probably not news. I just wish a list like this had been available when I was going through the newborn phase for the first time. (Or the 2nd. Or the 3rd.)
Dads Need Support Too
Being a new mom is hard, but there are whole support groups dedicated to helping moms through that stage of life. Dads don’t have the same support system, so we have to lean on each other.