The first four weeks of being a new dad will be one of the scariest times of your life. To make this a little less scary, we’ve compiled a few tips on how to get through it.
For the past nine months, you and your partner have been preparing for this little bundle of joy to enter into the world. You’ve painted the baby’s room, built the cot and installed the car seat. Then, when the big day comes, you both excitedly rush to the hospital and not too long after the two of you enter the room, three of you come out.
You’re filled with joy and love and hope… and then you come home.
You’re a dad, but now what?
Nobody ever prepared you for what comes next. And now there you are, sitting on the couch, staring at the wall, thinking to yourself: what do I do now?
We’re not going to pretend to solve all your problems in this one blog, but what we will do is give you a few tips on how to make it through the first month with a newborn in the house.
Most babies sleep 10 to 15 hours a day, according to Better Health Victoria. The awful truth is they sometimes only sleep for an hour at a time. The next thing you know, that beautiful eight-hour, uninterrupted slumber that you’ve taken for granted all your life disappears.
Let’s take a look at a couple of things you can do to catch up on a little sleep:
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Forget about cleaning the house, doing the laundry or anything else. Take that nap!
- Avoid eating heavy meals before bed – that kind of thing can keep you up at night.
- The same goes for exercising in the hours before bed. Try and squeeze in some exercise in in the mornings if you can.
- Don’t take your phone to bed and spend an hour down the rabbit hole of Facebook, YouTube or whatever.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to get sleep when you need it, and then at other times when you’re awake, you’re completely exhausted. In that case, drink coffee. All the coffee you can get your hands on. If you don’t have time to brew it, just grab a fistful of beans and eat them dry (trust us, you will consider this).
The faint smell of sour milk is now your new scent. Don’t fight it; just come to peace with it – there’s nothing else you can do.
Unlike big people who only vomit when there’s something wrong with them, baby vomit is completely normal. It usually occurs when they burp after having milk, and means that their tummies are full. So there’s nothing to worry about there.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be the victim in this scenario. As time goes on, you will get to know your baby and know when they’re about to vomit. When this happens, hold the baby out at arm’s length (face out, of course) and let them vomit onto the floor, thus saving you from getting vomit on your clothes.
Looking after your relationship
Up until the arrival of your little pooping, vomiting bundle of joy, you were most likely the number one person in your partner’s life. I’d hate to break it to you, pal — that’s no longer the case. You’re further down the food chain now. That doesn’t mean your relationship is over. It just means that now that you’re the co-owner of a little person, all that’s changed.
- Couple time is now family time. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to spend some time alone again. It just means that you need to plan it rather than just letting it happen. Give yourselves thirty minutes at the end of the day just to chat, hang out or watch your favourite TV show. You’d be surprised at how much that thirty minutes rejuvenates your relationship.
- Listen to each other more and criticise each other less. You’re both adjusting to this new life, and that adjustment is going to take some time, so be patient. Remember, your partner is trying to find their way through this new life as well.
- Yes, you will have sex again. You may just need to be a little patient.
Looking after yourself
You may be a parent now, but somewhere deep down, under all that baby vomit and poop, you’re still you. Sometimes, that you can get lost in your new role as a parent, making you feel consumed by all of the new responsibilities.
If you don’t take care of yourself, those little stresses can accumulate into bigger problems such as anxiety and depression. You want to avoid going down that path if you can.
Here’s a couple of ways you can look after yourself:
- Keep up with your hobbies. If every Sunday morning you used to go for a long jog. Maybe just go for a shorter one instead, but still go for a jog. Still do the things that made you, well, you. You might just need to adjust the time dedicated to them.
- Connect with other dads so you’ve got some people to talk about ‘dad’ issues with. Even talking about little problems can help them from becoming bigger problems.
- Keep an eye out for negative self-talk.
- Watch your drinking. Blokes sometimes lean into drinking too much to deal with any anxiety they may be feeling. Given some of the nappies you’re probably dealing with, you probably deserve a beer or two, but be careful that you’re not using booze to cover for something else.
Now, remember that if things get really bad, and I mean so bad that you’re feeling depressed or anxious every single day, it’s okay to reach out and ask for help. You might have some ‘dad’ friends you can talk to. They might have gone through something similar themselves. Or if you’re not comfortable doing that, you can always just pick up the phone and call a counsellor for a chat.
Remember, and this is very important: you can now fart in public and blame it on the baby.
Originally published at MensLine Australia. Photo by Danik Prihodko.