6 Ways to Embrace Becoming a New Father
Whether you are an expectant first-time father or have already become a new dad, chances are that your life has changed in some surprising and unexpected ways. The transition into new fatherhood can be an uncertain time but also a time of great blessing and profundity unlike anything you have ever experienced. For the new father, there are ways to manage this unexplored terrain of fatherhood so that the stress is reduced and the many precious moments can be experienced to the fullest. Here are some ways to overcome any feelings of overwhelm or uncertainty that you might feel in order to embrace becoming a new father to your child.
- Take your time: Once you have become a father, time takes on a different pace and meaning. Remember when scheduling that everything takes longer with a baby involved, so avoid planning too much in one day. While you still may have work and other responsibilities to attend to, be sure to invest some quality time each day with your little one, as this is one of the most effective ways to learn how to become the best father you can be. Remember that time spent playing on the floor, cuddling, or watching your baby sleep is time well spent and will only serve to strengthen the parent-child relationship.
- Know how to engage: When it does come time to spend some quality time with your little one, you want to ensure that you make the most of it. The best way to do this is to make sure you are engaging on your son’s or daughter’s level. For instance, research has shown that babies have a preference for the human face in general and eye contact in particular, so lots of eye contact is the best way to interact at this stage (with your face about a foot in front of him or her, as this is as far as babies can see). Repetitive sounds and soothing motions are also wonderful ways to engage with infants.
- Get in touch with your patient side: Babies cry, partners get cranky, the house gets messy, and being a new father can bring you to the brink of your patience. Having a new baby can turn a formerly orderly household into one of chaos, and your partner is going to need all of your support in getting through this transition. Try to be as zen as possible about the crying and don’t take it personally. Babies who are colicky can drive everyone to the brink, so remember that there’s nothing wrong with letting your baby safely cry in the crib while you take a much needed break.
- Team up with mom: The best way for both you and mom to get through the early parenting years is to make sure you are teaming up as much as possible. Take turns with feedings and changing diapers, and make sure the other still gets some alone time and social time with friends. Talk to each other, and give each other those much needed breaks when your patience runs low.
- Take care of your health: If you are a first-time father, chances are that you have never experienced being quite so needed in your life. Never before has it been so important that you take excellent care of yourself. Make sure your diet is relatively healthy and get consisten exercise (this will help with stress maintenance too). Get regular check-ups and monitor your health. Finally, if you are prone to taking risks, try to curtail that as well. Wear a seat belt, avoid speeding, and use the recommended safety equipment when playing sports.
- Build routines that will last a lifetime: For every father and child, this will be different, and the most important thing here is to find those things you love that you can share with your child for years to come. For instance, if you are a bibliophile, then a nightly bedtime story ritual may provide the perfect focal point for a father-child routine that can last for years to come. Or if you like to bike, for instance, then early rides using an infant/baby carrier can later segue to a wonderful tradition of father-child Sunday rides.
As a new father, the most important thing to understand is that time spent with your infant is valuable to both of you. So take a deep breath, relax, and give yourself the time you need to learn and grow into this most important role.