Practical advice for new dads from an appreciative mum

A wise man once said, “a human being will exit your wife, she has done enough”. Any guesses of who this incredible father is? Yep! Ryan Reynolds.

I think I got a good one in my husband too.

Right from the word go, my husband was incredibly involved with our son. In fact, I had such a strong reaction to the pain medication following my c-section, that I couldn’t feed, change or settle our child. It was all up to the man of the hour. A quick lesson in changing a nappy from the midwife and straight into the deep end he went. My son is now fifteen months old, and he is well and truly a daddy’s boy.

How did we manage it? We simply let the relationships flourish naturally. And my son has seen my husband and I equally involved with him from his first moment in the world.

So here are some tips, from a loving and very appreciative wife.

Just get up, guys

I know you have work in the morning but guess what, so does your partner. That little bundle of joy screaming for food in the middle of the night is a handful during the day too. And let’s get things straight, looking after kids is a full-time job, and some of your partners will have a job on top of looking after the kids. If your partner is breastfeeding, help her out. Bring the baby to her and then once the feed is finished, you take the swaddling and settling role. If you’re bottle feeding, take at least one of the night feeds. There’s nothing more underrated than a solid few hours of sleep. Give her that at the very least.

Be her door bouncer

The first few months of a child’s life can be overwhelming. Not only are you figuring out this new little person’s role in your family, you’re also working out its personality, what it loves and loathes, and how you can all work together to make this new life as seamless and exciting as possible. Throw in the visitors and it’s a total emotional minefield. Be the bouncer. If people are messaging your partner’s phone, reply on her behalf to say yes or no. Often, mums are in such a haze of feeding, changing, feeding and sleeping, that we can’t recognise how exhausted we really are. We constantly want to please everyone and saying no to a visitor can seem like the worst thing in the world. So, take the reins and do it for her. It also may be worth having some code signals you can send each other when things are getting too much so you can politely direct people to the door if they overstay their welcome.

Cook, clean, do the washing

I’m exceptionally fortunate that not only do my husband’s work hours mean he is home relatively early in the evening, he’s also a domestic god! I have a lot to thank his parents for when it comes to his ability and willingness to do his share of housework. He loves being in the kitchen and cooking up a storm, and before our son came along, he was right there alongside me cooking meals to freeze. Now, if I have work to do, he cooks. And sometimes he baths our son, puts him to sleep and then heads to the kitchen to make our dinner. He’s also been known to get up on a Saturday morning and put a load of washing on. Now I know I got one of the good ones when it comes to domestic abilities. But if you can’t do it, outsource it. There are always plenty of people asking what they can do for new parents, so be honest and ask for a meal you can freeze. Find someone who can come and help you do the cleaning and washing. I promise, your partner will be endlessly thankful that there’s one less thing for her to worry about.

Daddy/baby time

We know you’re out most of the day, so really make the most of the time you’re at home. When you walk through the door, take over. Let your partner sit for half an hour without an extra limb hanging off her. Give her the opportunity to have a hot cup of tea or close her eyes for just a second. You’d be amazed at how rejuvenating that feels.

Often, we underestimate what one on one time can do for a relationship between a father and his child. When you’re there, be fully there. Put your phone away, get on the floor and interact with your baby.

On weekends, take the baby out for the morning – just you and your child. Not only will this give your partner a bit of alone time (which, let’s face it, is exceptionally rare when there’s a child involved) but it also gives you some daddy time. And when I say take the baby out, I don’t mean get your partner to pack the nappy bag and snacks, I mean that you sort everything out – from clothes to food and everything in between. Walk a mile in your partner’s shoes.

Never underestimate the importance of date night

Finally, and this has nothing to do with your baby, head out for date night. Get a babysitter and treat yourselves. Encourage your partner to put on something that’s not covered in a child’s bodily fluids and head out the door for a meal without a screaming baby, a movie or even a picnic in the park; give her the opportunity to feel like a normal human being for just one night a week or month, whatever you can manage. Put the phones away and really talk to each other. I promise, you’ll both feel like new people when you come home.  

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