Knowing that you’re about to become a father for the first time brings with it a hefty amount of joy, excitement, and pride. But even before the baby arrives, moments of doubt, frustration, and utter panic can creep in. But, hey, big life events often involve some level of anxiety. The key is to avoid letting thoughts of dread and uncertainty overtake an otherwise happy event.
Here are a few thoughts that might pop into your head and what you can do to keep them in check.
Cut yourself some slack. Parenthood takes time and patience; don’t let your rookie status psych you out. Talk to the people closest to you about the concerns you have. You’ll likely find that your family, friends, and even casual acquaintances are more than willing to share their advice and support.
Don’t allow the potential for embarrassment to freeze you out of what could be the most significant moment of your life. Consider attending birthing classes with your child’s mother so you both know what to expect when you arrive at the hospital. Show her that you’re in her corner. After all, you’re not the one experiencing the contractions.
Ever wonder how we made it as a species before the advent of hand sanitizer and ergonomic high chairs? While some products greatly assist in child rearing, you still need to manage your budget. Tackle the big stuff first: crib, changing table, and car safety seat. Then move on to what seems most useful, like a diaper bag, rocking chair, and playpen. And as for any baby presents that just don’t fit your needs, say thank you…and head out to get them exchanged!
Though occasionally a messy operation, most diaper changes won’t involve a hazmat suit. Simply remove the expired unit, wipe up the mess, add a dash of rash cream, and reseal. Little tots will appreciate knowing that you’ve got their back(side).
Despite their overdependence on us big folk, babies tend to be fairly resilient. Skip the worry and focus on getting to know the latest addition to the family. If something such as a fever develops, give the pediatrician a call. And if mom’s having a tough time, reach out to her obstetrician.
Happy hour, weekend bike rides, and late-night dinners need not be off the menu entirely, but they will require a bit of readjustment on your part. While you establish a routine with your little one, it’s important to take a break every now and then. Try to carve out time once a week not just for yourself, but also for and with your significant other.
Newborns will always fuss and wail, even if they’re fed and well rested. You just need to learn how to pick up on their cues! Figure out what you need to do that makes your baby happy and relaxed — singing, goofy sounds, gently rocking them. It takes a bit of trial and error, but keep in mind: While crying can take a toll on your eardrums, it won’t hurt your little one.
It’s true — newborns are notoriously bad at telling time. This becomes most evident when you need to be up for work at 6 a.m. and they decide to ring the dinner bell at 2 a.m. But as with bouts of crying, this too shall pass. If possible, set up on-call shifts with your partner so that one of you handles the baby while the other rests or manages other tasks.
While it’s tempting to remain in the comfort of the castle, you and your new little prince or princess will eventually need to journey away from home together, even if only for some fresh air. Start small with a stroll around the neighborhood or to a nearby park. Once you have that down, take it to the next level with a run to the dry cleaners or grocery store. Also, check online for any local dads’ groups to hook up with fellow fathers and their kids for hiking or other activities.
New dads sometimes feel like they’ve been left standing on the sidelines while mother and child bask in all the fanfare. It can also cut the other way, with new moms feeling like they need to come up for air. Show her that your head’s in the game by cleaning up the living room without being asked, or offering to take the baby for a while. She’ll appreciate being on the same team and you won’t have to wait for the play to be called.