Let me begin this article with a disclaimer. Becoming a first time parent is never going to be perfect. Bringing a child into a relationship is an incredible and life changing experience, however the dynamics of the relationship between the parents will inevitably be affected as a direct result. This isn’t a negative thing, it’s just the reality of juggling a relationship, work, a social life, and the added bonus of having a brand spanking new baby thrown into the mix. Being the father of a 12 months old happy healthy boy, and the partner of an incredibly devoted mum, I’m the first to admit I’ve made some mistakes along the way. So with that, here are a few small tips to help new dads dodge any potential landmines.
After the shock and awe of bringing the little one into the world, your focus is naturally drawn 100% into the baby and understandably so, given they need 100% attention. But after a few weeks (if you’re lucky) or a few months, you’ll settle into a routine, and this is when a bit of normality returns to your life. Yes there’s a kid in the corner of the room which wasn’t there before, but you can still have dinner together or watch Netflix (perhaps too soon to chill – we can get to that later). My main mistake, and one that’s easy to make, is to devote all attention to the newborn and forget the little things that brought you and your partner together in the first place. I’m talking about the things which make her feel special and wanted, whether it be surprising her with (unprompted) flowers, bringing home her favourite snacks or even just simply running her a bath with candles. These are the things which will lift her in the tougher times, just by showing you’re thinking about her.
If you’re lucky enough to be in a position to consider a live in domestic helper, I cannot recommend this enough. Initially both my partner and I were reluctant to engage a helper for numerous reasons, and as an expat in Singapore we battled for 10 months alone and with little support network around us. Whilst this wasn’t the end of the world, it did at times make for very long and exhausting days, and ultimately resulted in us losing additional time that we could have spent either with our son, or back to the first point, with each other. If I had my time again, it would have been a smart move to have this in place much earlier.
Now I write this with a little hesitation knowing that my partner will likely read this but hear me out. Firstly, I acknowledge that the males in the family unit are largely useless at night time for the first few months if the mum is breast feeding. Imagine how you’d feel if for 2 months straight, you set your alarm at night for every 2 hours to wake up for 30 minutes, and that alarm is set to the ringtone of Screaming Baby. She will at times be drained emotionally, and physically, and if you’re anything like me you’ll most likely be snoring in the corner of the bed (most nights) without hearing a thing. Sleep deprivation is one of the toughest things in life to deal with, so be patient, go to your happy place and allow her to blow off steam when she needs to. You’ll be a Zen master by the end of it.
Guys, I hope this helps. And, I love you JJ.