Having a baby brings about a host of expected and unexpected changes to the lives of their parents. While this is hardly news to expecting parents, the enormity of the physical, emotional and interpersonal toll that a newborn can bring can often surprise even the most prepared couples.
Fathers, especially, may be shell shocked at the changes and challenges that occur after the birth of their child. Anticipating these changes can lessen the number of surprises down the road and at least help you mentally prepare to tackle the difficulties that lay ahead. Here are some of the important adjustments that new dads need to be aware of after a baby comes into your life.
Even the strongest of relationships can undergo strain when a new baby arrives. From a comfortable party of two with loads of time for each other, you and your spouse are now around-the-clock slaves to your little one’s every whim and fancy. Make sure you set out time - even a cup of coffee or a short walk - to spend with your partner alone to help you connect and keep your relationship intact.
Now that you have another mouth to feed, you may find yourself anxious about finances and providing for your family. This can be especially hard-hitting if you are used to two incomes and your spouse is taking a break from work or decided to be a stay-at-home mom. Factoring in the cost of a child is no small task - from diapers to college funds, planning your financial future may seem daunting but take it one step at a time. Talking to other parents or a financial planner for advice on how to manage money can help you ease some of this stress.
Loss Of Independence
Even though being a father fills you with pride and love, some may also feel a sense of loss for their previous carefreeness and independence. After all, you now have a vulnerable human being that is solely your responsibility. Though these feelings are overwhelming, know that it is completely natural to feel this way. The ability to still do the things you love has not disappeared forever. You very likely will soon learn to adapt and adjust your hobbies to include your little buddy.
Things Take (A Lot) More Time
Thought only women took ages to get ready and out the door? Try getting a baby from zero to fed, changed and dressed before heading to the park. Oh, and don’t forget to pack the baby bag. To avoid future frustrations, be prepared for every excursion to take at least an added 30 minutes in prep time. In fact, add in overtime for every task you need to complete with baby in tow. Be prepared to be spending a whole lot of your free time feeding, rocking and soothing your child in between everything else you need to be doing during the day.
Frequent Doctor Visits
Keeping up with your baby’s healthcare schedule is crucial. There are check-ups and vaccine schedules, in addition to the regular ailments that infants tend to suffer from, such as fevers and colic. You will have to make time to be present for your child’s appointments, which may mean long waits at the clinic or leaving early from work when they are ill. You will probably also find yourself suddenly engrossed in the various aspects of infant healthcare such as vaccines, why they are necessary and the right time for their administration. Being concerned about your child’s health is only natural and a sign of good parenting but don’t get paranoid. Trust your doctor and limit your time spent searching for ‘diagnoses’ online.
Balancing parenting with work demands is something most new dads can relate to. With most workplaces offering less-than-ideal paternity leave policies, new fathers are often left struggling trying to put in their hours before going home to help with the baby. This, in addition to sleepless nights, anxiety over work and your new parental role, can take an emotional and physical toll. Recognise that the first few months of parenting are especially hard and take a lot of getting used to.
For first-time dads, it can be a struggle to find your parenting rhythm right away but remember that this is completely normal and something that most new fathers go through. Talking with your partner and other parents can help ease some of your worries and make you feel more supported in this new journey.