One of the services I offer at Bellies and Beyond is meeting with pregnant mothers and helping them get set up for the baby. Sometimes this entails helping with a nursery or a baby registry, or other times it is teaching them how to bath a baby. Whilst doing this I generally talk about what can be expected with regards to sleep. When in their homes, I will often see lots of useful reading material for mothers scattered round the house, next to baths or toilets or piled up next to the bed. I think its getting better all the time but there is less out there for impending fathers, yes they can Google all about it but sometimes the Premier League Soccer scores or the release of the new Iphone is just more tempting to read about. So I have written my list of my best advice for a new father. Not really a list from an expert of any kind or even a sleep consultant. Just a list from a mother of two, and some of my other mummy-friends who helped out a little.
- There will be times when you think you really can’t do it. But you can. Sometimes parenthood will kick you in the ass. It will overwhelm you and try and get the better of you. But don’t let it. Look into those little rolls of skin, touch those tiny little tootsies, smell in that amazing smell that only babies have and you will automatically feel a sense of calm.
- Keep looking. It is definitely there.
Yes, the change table has different drawers and sections, and the nappy bag has more pockets than cargo pants but just keep looking. Don’t ask a million questions but just find it! You can bet that pretty much whatever that baby needs is in one of those two places.
- Make baby wipes your best friend. Have them everywhere. Do a room-to-room delivery of baby wipes. Throw them round like confetti. Trust me, you’ll need them.
- The last Tim Tam is for her.
- Tell her she’s beautiful. She might not be very happy about the stretch marks she has accrued, the tired big brown bags under her eyes, the nipples that are bigger and badder than ever but just look at her when you feel she needs it and make her know that you think she is the most beautiful woman to you. I know you’ll genuinely think it, but make her believe it.
- Ask for help. If you have some extra money then pay for some help. I always advise to get as much help as you can afford. If the washing is piling up, take it to a Laundromat. It will come back washed and folded. If you can afford a cleaner just get them in for an hour, it will freshen the whole house up and make your baby mama feel a little better. If your wife is happy to leave the house for an hour, ask a family member or a friend just to babysit. Most are only too happy to help. Other parents have been there and know what its like and people without kids will appreciate the novelty.
- Say yes to her.
Don’t ask why or how. Just say yes.
- Try being one step ahead. Call ahead. Do a load of washing, tidy up, bring dinner home without being asked. Be decisive. Sometimes the wrong decision is better than no decision. After 9 months of being pregnant she’s hanging out for sushi so start with Japanese.
- Avoid commenting on your babies sleep. When you wake up in the morning NEVER say anything like “that was a good night” or “how amazing, the baby slept through the whole night”… this is the most common (and most infuriating) mistake you can make. Chances are that your baby did not actually sleep through at all, but rather you slept through. Trust me, if the baby slept through for the first time, it will be the first thing the proud mama will tell you about it as you are reaching for your morning (double shot) coffee.
- Try avoiding asking her what she did today. A mother of a newborn really doesn’t have much time to “do” anything. Oh, other than feeding your baby at least every three hours, burping it and changing its nappy about 12 times. I’ve just answered your question, that’s what she did today. Be impressed if she smells clean, brushed her teeth and dare I even say – left the house!
There you have my absolute top tips for being a new father. Feel free to send it on your partner and hope that he reads it or at least skims through it. It is such an exciting time you are about to go through personally and as a couple. The love you will feel when you look at your baby-dada won’t even compare to what you are feeling beforehand. Try ease up on him, remember that he is probably trying his best to keep everyone happy, even when we are exhausted and ridiculously hormonal. Oh and dads… One more tip… Don’t forget the push present! No the baby is not counted as the present!