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Your world has either just changed significantly, or it’s about to. When a baby comes, new roles for dad come with it. Yes, you will become a father, but it’s important that you also assume the role of protector, a provider and an enforcer for your little family, especially during those first few weeks.
We know you have what it takes to kick butt in all these areas, but here’s a quick-and-dirty roadmap of your new duties during that first month of fatherhood:
Be the protector. This is your family and it’s your job to keep them safe. Be the handwashing and hand-sanitizer police, so mom doesn’t have to live in a constant state of panic, in addition to everything else she is feeling. Be the visitor patrol. If that means kicking out your great-aunt so the new mom can rest or nurse or take a shower, we know you’re up to the task and will do it in the most respectful way possible. If you have to tell your nieces and nephews they cannot come over for a couple weeks, do it.
Take care of your wife. The new mom in your life is going to be focused so exclusively on this new little baby, she is bound to forget about taking care of herself. Keep your baby mama’s snack stash stocked and her water bottle full. Run to the store for stool softeners and another box of nursing pads. Throw in a load of laundry, and change those poopy diapers. Order her favorite takeout. Make sure she knows she is doing a great job.
Be understanding if you don’t get to bottle-feed the baby for the first few weeks, as mom and baby figure out the whole nursing thing. You will get your chance! And when it happens, make it a middle-of-the-night feeding and she’ll love you forever. In the meantime, there is a huge role for you to play in learning how to soothe your baby by rocking, walking, bouncing and shooshing.
Get handy. Set up the monitor, put the stroller together, build the crib. There are a million new baby items to assemble and decipher. Take on those tasks and you’ll relieve some major stress. We know that the baby won’t sleep in the crib for a few weeks, but if it gives mom peace of mind to have that checked off the list, just do it. Oh, and don’t make her ask twice.
Don’t ask questions. Things might be a little wacky those first few weeks as you guys adjust to life with a new baby. Don’t try to comprehend what your partner is asking. If she asks you specifically to hold the baby while she pees, don’t suggest putting the baby down in the bassinet. Just hold the baby. Don’t try to make sense of it, you 100% never will. All we’ll say is: Giving birth. Hormones. Lack of sleep.
Just say no: Random invites to have beers with the guys or play 9 holes? The answer is no, and we suggest not asking. You can have lunch during the day while working to have a getaway from the new life you are living. Bonus for ordering a meal for your wife and dropping it off before heading back to the office. The only welcome invite, guys, is when it includes your other children at home to give the mom solo infant time to snuggle. In those instances, JUST SAY YES!
Here’s the bottom line: Things will feel new for a while, and sometimes things will get hard. But don’t keep score—you two are on the same team, so work together. You’re both learning, giving, not sleeping a lot. At some point, you might ask yourself, what have we done?! But give it time and it will get easier. You will find a new (and wonderful) normal. And someday, you will have a date night again.
Oh, and don’t forget to take a few pictures of that beautiful woman and your baby along the way.