So, you’re about to be a dad. Or maybe, you’re about to be a dad…again. And while it’s no secret that there are countless items required in order to care for your bundle of joy, equally important is preparing for the sudden and unavoidable impact on your lifestyle, routine and relationship. As many new parents will attest, the rule book of good intentions usually goes out the window when the baby arrives. But it still doesn’t hurt to have a game plan in place.
Begin with the most basic of practicalities, the kid will need a name. And not just any name, but a good name, a name that conveys confidence and intelligence, a name to continue the family legacy, a name that hopefully won’t inspire too many rhyming playground taunts. Start early, buy books, consult lists of popular names, and be open to your partner’s suggestions. It’s a long process. You may love a name for a few months until you suddenly decide it’s all wrong. That’s okay at this stage of the game, but once you’ve completed the birth certificate, it’s a done deal. Use the full nine months to mull it over, not just the two days prior to leaving the hospital. It’ll last a lifetime, you owe the kid the consideration of giving it some serious thought.
Consider your child’s safety. Once you’ve purchased a car seat, find a car seat check in your area, often provided by local fire or police departments at no cost. Make use of a certified safety technician’s expertise to teach you how to properly strap the little tyke in. It’s well worth it.
Talk to your partner. Set expectations, share concerns and worries, and develop a basic guide on how to divide the household duties. Let’s face it, the newborn is going to get the lion’s share of the attention, but groceries will still need purchasing, your other children will still need parenting, and the clothes will still need washing. There’s a lot to keep track of, but guidelines for how and when it’s all going to be accomplished can make it less daunting. Also, consider establishing a “tap-out” clause with your partner to allow for a guilt-free reprieve when one of you is feeling overwhelmed or has been with the little screamer and his powerful lungs for long enough. Knowing there is a time-out available to go for a walk, take a long shower, or just lay down and breathe can make the more difficult moments of parenting easier to face and strengthen the bond with your partner as a teammate.
Speak to the grandparents, aunts, uncles and close friends who will wish to share in this joyous experience. Enlist helpers for times when you and your partner just can’t accomplish it all. Explain that you will need their love and support but also their occasional distance. Set ground rules for visiting occurrences and duration. It’s essential for the baby to establish a routine, and equally important for both baby and mom to sleep when they’re able. If you approach the subject tactfully prior to the birth, hopefully you won’t have to reiterate it later when you’re sleep deprived and probably not as even-tempered as you would hope. They’ll understand and they’ll be grateful to you for being honest with them.
Stock up on books, speak to other parents and learn how to best prepare your other kids and pets for baby’s arrival. Nevertheless, prepare yourself for life to be flipped upside down. Once you adjust to the initial shock, you’ll find that you can’t imagine what life was like before the baby inspired chaos, and you wouldn’t want to.