For all the new Dads out there celebrating their first real Father’s Day let me officially greet you with a hearty cheer and say “Welcome To Fatherhood!” You’ve been on quite a journey from the Dude Zone to the Dad Zone over the last year or so, starting with that positive pregnancy test way back when. You’ve been a helpful and supportive co-pilot on the pregnancy and childbirth adventure so far, but now that the baby is finally here you are fully in the game and your own parenting voyage is well underway.
Those first few months as a new family are a unique and special time for Mama and Baby, but also for you too. The importance of this time for all parties is finally being recognized by the bigger birth community and has even earned the moniker of “Fourth Trimester” to better connect to the rest of the pregnancy and childbirth timeline. Many new Dads find themselves a bit overwhelmed here. Mama and Baby need extra care and attention, but the usual work and life responsibilities probably haven’t changed much at all. So many new demands on your time, energy, and attention come automatically with your new priorities at home, but so many more come unexpectedly and in larger than anticipated ways. So many new questions and challenges come up, but at the end of the day, it isn’t about what’s happening that matters so much, but how you respond to it.
I’m going to share a Dad tip from my new book Welcome To Fatherhood, to help you new Dads out there not only just survive those first few months of adjustment that come with Baby’s arrival, but will actually help you thrive through them and beyond as you and Mama begin this next chapter of your lives together. Generally speaking, I coach Dads up by telling them their new mantra here is “Protect & Serve” and their new home life action plan is “just do it all.” However, underneath everything else is the fundamental need to spend some quality time every day prioritizing your own health and wellbeing.
This tip is broken up into 6 pieces to help you keep your feet firmly planted on the ground of your own Dad path so that you can protect and serve yourself while also fully showing up and stepping up to help your new family thrive, too.
Whether it is getting the Instapot going in the morning before you head out to work or ordering Door Dash on the way home, having dinner “taken care of” is a great way to make everybody’s life a little easier.
Take 10 minutes to clear your mind and switch roles from work life to Dad life before walking in the front door. A quick walk, a guided meditation, or a few minutes in the garage with the heavy bag – find what works for you and do it every day so that you walk in the door fully in the Dad Zone.
You need to do #2 above so that you can immediately “tag in” with Baby that first minute you walk in. Open the door, check-in with Mama, and then tag in with Baby so that Mama can get some time to get caught up on her life too. Having dinner already set up as suggested in #1 makes this whole process much easier for everybody.
You still need to stay connected and involved with all the things that made you, back before Baby came along. Sure, your priorities have shifted and you have less time for such things, but it is still crucial to recognize them and feed the ones that are most important to you. Whether you get up early, trade-in your lunch break, or stay up late, try to find a way to nourish the parts of you that are essential.
Mama is going through her own growth and transformation here too, and in many ways that neither you nor she may even be aware of. Find time to connect with her one on one, ask her what’s really going on with her experiences, and try to share some of what is going on for you too. New parenting can be tricky, so build up those bonds of teamwork with frequent expressions of love, appreciation, and gratitude for each other.
One of the best short-term adjustments new parents can make is to temporarily break up their sleeping habits so that each of you gets at least 5 or 6 hours of straight sleep each night while the other one stays up on baby duty. One of you goes to bed early while the other stays up with Baby, then the alarm goes off and you switch out so the other gets some straight sleep too. Baby is attended to as needed, and we save all the discussions over who’s turn it is to get up too!
Try some of the above tips and customize them in whatever way works best for you, and for your family too. The Dad Zone is all about proudly owning your role and everything that comes with it. “Protect & Serve” may be your mantra, but all that follows after that is much easier done when you are protecting and serving yourself too. Happy Father’s Day, and best of luck to you on this next chapter of this journey into Fatherhood!
David Arrell is an Author, Entrepreneur, Consultant, and Men’s Coach currently living in Colorado Springs, CO. He is passionate about coaching men on how to more fully embrace and embody healthy masculinity, especially through the powerful modalities of partnership and parenting. His most recent work in this area is his book Welcome To Fatherhood: The Modern Man’s Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Fatherhood.