My daughter is four weeks old today, and she’ll officially be one month old in two days. Even before she was born, many parents were telling me how quickly time goes by when one has kids. In one instant they’re born; then all of a sudden they are graduating high school or getting married.
The past four weeks have definitely gone by in a blur, much like my sleep pattern, and to say it’s been an adjustment would be an huge understatement. My baby isn’t too engaging yet and is really only operating out of biological necessity – eating, pooping, sleeping (repeat) – but I’m constantly learning – about her, myself, my wife, and my marriage – because of her. And because no one gave me any practical or specific ways to “adjust,” here are some helpful tips from one newbie dad to another.
When you’re around baby put down the phone or tablet and be with her/him. One recent morning, I had baby in my lap while momma was still sleeping. I thought I could use this time to catch up on my news feeds (because, instagrams) until I came across the following post seconds later. Enough said.
Don’t ask your wife if she wants you to take the baby or change her. Just do it. Chances are she does and would appreciate it. Asking for her preference may imply that you don’t want to be involved or care for baby. Unbeknownst to you, it may actually reflect how you feel. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this, but I’m learning to get over myself and rethink how I offer to help. Instead of asking, “Do you want me to take the baby?” you can simply say, “I’ll take the baby for a little bit. Why don’t you __________ (fill in the blank with something momma wants)?”
Your own time may be important to you, but your time with baby is limited.
I can’t get enough of my baby. I love looking at her and kissing her, wondering what her voice will sound like, when she’ll start smiling at my
lame dad jokes, etc. I also know she’ll grow into an independent teenager asking for my car. That’s why I’d rather postpone my morning run and help baby pass some gas. If I can’t help her with that, how can I expect to help her when she, God forbid, breaks an arm from snowboarding? Besides, I can double up on dad-time by taking baby on a run with me when I get home from work.
Give momma a break.
Even if it means holding the baby for 10 minutes in the dark hours of the morning, it could feel like an hour of sleep for momma. I experienced this first hand just a couple of days ago, and I actually enjoyed the morning stillness while I held baby. Bonus tip: don’t be expecting a high five. Give momma a break because you love her and know she’s at home all day caring for baby while you’re at the office writing blog entries.
Do it for her.
Leaving for work is hard and being at work is even harder, but I know it means I can still be of use to my family even if I’m not home to physically help. Picture messages of her snuggly face also remind me why I spend most of my day surrounded by grey walls and why it’s actually worth it.