Few things in life are as rewarding as being a father. The joy of holding your newborn baby for the first time cannot be put into words, and neither can the feeling of fear of the unknown. If you are a first time dad, you are likely to be scared, nervous and uncertain of what to do to ensure that your baby grows up happy and healthy. Fatherhood isn’t a class that is taught in college; it is a learn-as-you-go job that few of us feel prepared for when first faced with the challenge. The first six weeks can be extremely challenging, but there are some helpful tips to consider that can help your through the first phase of your baby’s life.
Sleep is something you should be prepared to lose a lot of during the first few weeks of fatherhood. Your baby is going to disrupt your sleep so often, it will seem as though it has been years since you had a decent night’s sleep. To try and be ready for the late night feedings, diaper changes and sporadic sleeping patterns, it is in your best interest to grab a nap whenever humanly possible. It doesn’t matter what time of day and it doesn’t matter where you are; if you’ve given the opportunity to grab some shut eye, you better take it. You may need to make some sacrifices and skip the last half of Monday Night Football, but trust that you will thank yourself at 2am and it’s time to change a dirty diaper.
Don’t be afraid to say no to people. As a new dad, you are going to be excited to show off your new bundle of joy, but sometimes, the never ending parade of people that will be stopping be can become exhausting. It is important to put the welfare of you and your child above all others. If you don’t have the energy to have guests, don’t be afraid to tell them to leave. If they insist on being around, put them to work. Ask them to prepare a meal for the family or tend to the cleaning that has been ignored as a result of your new full time job. You will either be rewarded with some peace and quiet or a nice meal and a clean house. Either way, you win.
Be ready to get, and stay, dirty. Babies have an unnatural ability to make a disgusting mess from both ends at all times. The surprises they make in their diapers will have you questioning the contents of their formula for sure. To top it off, they seem to be nauseated by the appearance of clean clothing and will almost certainly find a way to cover you in a combination of urine and spit-up. Your best bet is to simply get used to it and have a steady supply of heavy-strength cleaning supplies on hand at all times.
Come to grips with the fact that you are going to embark on errands that you were never prepared for. Your baby will likely spend the majority of their time with their mother, so you will be relegated to the role of chef, shopper and housekeeper. Diapers, panty liners and breast pads are just a few of the interesting items you will be sent to pick up; just grin and bear it and know that your efforts are being done for the greater good. Fatherhood will often test your boundaries and your pride and shyness will be called into question on a regular basis.
Your new baby is sure to provide you with a sense of joy and pride that you’ve never imagined possible. Even though men don’t generally receive much credit in the field of child rearing, we are as much a part of raising our children as the mother’s. Preparing yourself for the trials of raising your child can make the trip down the road of parenting slightly less bumpy.