Hmmm... new dad tips... where were these when my husband found himself holding a precious bundle of joy?
If you have a spitter put the baby in the carseat to leave before you get dressed, or expect to have to change your clothes again.
If you are working and your wife is staying home make sure she gets a shower before you leave in the morning (if she wants one, this helped me break up days and nights in the early days).
Keep your wife hydrated.
Newborns are noisy sleepers. Don't freak out about all the noises they make when they are sleeping.
So many issues you are going to cross (pacifiers, bedsharing, Cry it out) are going to have people who believe a whole range of different things. Research it a little on your own from an as unbiased source as you can. Follow the safety rules involved if you decide to go for that practice and then don't beat yourself up for the choices you make.
Different things work for different families and that's ok.
Little humans gets sick. And when they do they run a temperature.
People aren't judging you most people couldn't care less about what you're doing. If someone does say something about your parenting, consider what they've said, see if it has any merit to it (for example, maybe you didn't know that you shouldn't put the baby's carseat on top of the grocery cart) if it does yay you learned something.
If it doesn't tell them why your doing things the way you are (I had to explain to quite a few old ladies why my babies weren't wearing coats.
We have a garage, coats aren't supposed to be worn in a carseat, my children spent less time in the cold if we hightailed it into the store than if I stopped to put their coats on them) then move on with your life.
Having a baby changes everything (that is so cliche but it really does). Becoming a parent totally changes your identity. Your no longer you for awhile, your someone's mom or someone's dad. It takes awhile to adjust to being a parent and being a person. But remember happy parents help make happy babies. Make sure both you and the baby's mom get time to just be themselves for a little while.
Whether it is 20 minutes a day which is pretty much all you might get in those early days or a few hours a week. Kids suck the life out of you so there isn't much you can do about that. Make time for you and your wife, she will appreciate it and it will make life better for the two of you.
A lot of this depends on the kids. That age gap can be pretty intense. If the 18 month old sleeps all night and you have a fairly calm 5 year old, then probably the housework etc. should be a little easier for her to get done.
My 5 year old puts his dishes in the dishwasher, puts his laundry in the hamper, puts away the clean cutlery from the dishwasher, picks up his toys at the end of the day, puts away his own clean clothes, and cleans up his own messes.
I tend to cook and do the laundry, and run most errands (grocery store, Target, etc). I'll also usually sweep/mop the kitchen while he is out of the house and the child is napping since it needs to be done constantly.
We do a deeper house clean (bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming carpeted areas) every couple of weeks together on the weekend. This usually involves doing it during nap, else plopping the child in a gated room with toys and TV for an hour or two to get it all done.
I'd say the only point of contention I have is the damned dishes.
I need to be pushier about this.
My youngest is just shy of one and half.
He helps pick up his toys at the end of the night, he "helps" sort the laundry and put it in the washer and out of the dryer, likes to hand me silverware out of the dishwasher, etc. Mostly at this point it's just getting him to see that chores are a part of life, not actually getting assistance. The only thing he doesn't actually slow down is toy pickup, and even then he puts away like, one puzzle while I clean the rest of the room.
I expect as my child gets older, he will take on some chores.
I also plan to go back to work (probably not for 5 years or so honestly, we want a second child), and when that happens, a lot more is going to have to get done on the weekends, like it used to before my son was born. Whichever of us gets home earlier is going to have to cook, or we're going to have to cook together.
Right now I choose to shoulder the chores that I do because it allows for us to have more free time on the weekends and evenings, which I value.
But if the baby is up at night, 2 year old is into everything, baby is clingy and doesn't let her get much done, well she is going to quickly move into survival mode. Those are some young kids and it's not going to get much worse than it is now.
In my oppinion you should address any marriage problems first. These tend to be the things that will start to rub once your start raising children together.
Raising children? It's something we do together. It works for us.
You'll be fine. But do not be afraid to accept help from your parents/friends/family members.
Realize that it's a marathon, not a sprint. Children are resilient and it is OK to learn as you go. Remember to take some time for yourself, as well as for you and your spouse as a couple. Having children can make you forget why you got married in the first place.
What I can tell you is that it will be a lot harder than you have begun to realize, but it will be extremely rewarding. There are going to be times where it seems you can't do anything right and the baby is going to cry and scream. Have patience and stay calm.
You are nervous and want to be sure that everything you do is perfect for your baby.
You already love your child and that's all that really matters. Give your child your heart; love your baby fully, unconditionally, and with every fiber of your being and nothing else will matter. Your child won't remember how the nursery was decorated or the brands of clothes that they wore.
The will remember the true love that only a parent can give.
Remember to cherish every moment. Babies don't keep and before you know it your little one won't be so little anymore.
Take thousands of photos and videos and relish in every minute of watching your little one grow. Don't ever be afraid to shower your child with love and emotion because you are the dad. There is not a stronger love on this planet than that between a parent and their child. Be nurturing and loving to your partner and your new addition and let your heart overflow with the love you will experience for the first time.
Don't stress about diapers, night feedings, or anything else, just enjoy the journey and all the other things will fall into place.
Enjoy the ride.
When you become a new parent there are some things that you will have to learn.
For some reason people tend to overlook these when you have a child. Don't let them do that.
The only thing that works is:
- state your boundary clearly ("We will not be bringing our child over until x, y, and z babyproofing is complete")
- stick to your boundary 100%, no wavering, and
- when they inevitably triy to make you the bad guy, put it back onto them ("All I'm asking is for you to babyproof. Is it more important to you that you see your grandchild, or that you don't babyproof? It's your choice.")
As far as buying things, well, that's their decision to buy things. It doesn't affect you and shouldn't be a reason to guilt you into visiting, so just pretend like it's not happening - make it clear that you don't want her doing that - this should be only required once (for normal poeple).
One piece of advice I've read is to pick a specific activity that's just for you and the baby, like a daily walk or reading time or something.
Your kiddo is going to love you but for you the most important thing will be finding ways to bond that are fun for you both. Another tip is to bring your baby to your wife every time they eat, so they associate you with that as well. If you're bottle feeding, you can do that as well. Still cooking ours, but I've been researching ways to make sure my husband gets in on all the fun and those are a few good tips I've read. For us, we bought a jogging stroller for him he got lots of alone time out on his runs.
Maybe find a way to incorporate your kiddo into your favorite activity?
Edit to add, as great as your mother in law will be, maybe just verbally set the expectation that you're excited for parenting and growing into your role as dad and doing this together with your wife.
I will always advocate taking a job for yourself, like diaper duty.
It's pretty easy and puts you in solid shape. Another thing I recommend, is right after birth, your wife is going to be 100% baby for a little bit, meaning you need to take care of the house, and her, so just own it. If you don't know how yet,* learn to use your laundry machines, dishwasher, etc.*, it will keep some semblance of put-togetherness in the very, very busy life you're going to see.
No amount of experience, knowledge or reading will help you to be a loving, caring, kind, and generous father.
Language like "Mrs. sad-crow and I are going to make such a great team!" or whatever kind of sets up the expectation that you will be equal partners with your wife in parenting decisions and helps set verbal boundaries that put you and your wife on the same team as you go into this. Others will pick up on the hierarchy and hopefully respect that. Not trying to sound overly adversarial, but even well-intentioned people can overstep out of love.
You'll learn fast and your baby will love you so much.
Would you like to know the best gift to give new parents?
That's easy, the best gift you can possibly give someone who has a newborn is groceries or help them do chores around the house.
Absolutely, hands down.
Someone sent us Hello Fresh for when we had our first baby, but it was a bit of a hassle. I totally appreciated not having to shop or think about making a meal, but I had to subscribe to the weekly service and pay for my first delivery in order to get the free delivery. I got two weeks free and the food almost rotted in the fridge because we were so crazy with the newborn, we couldn't spend the time to review the instructions, prep and cook. The meals seemed to take a long time to make. It was something I would like to do in the future, but as first time parents with a very needy and whiny newborn, the degree of food prep it required was too much for us. Oh- final thing, I forgot about the subscription and ended up paying for two weeks unsuspectingly, and I got the exact same meals at the same time so there were duplicates of three meals in my fridge and the whole gift ended up costing me like $75 in the long run.
They need to eat, and some days they are too tired to cook.
We lived off the food given to use for the first two weeks since we didn't have the energy to cook or shop. I'll never forgot the wonderful people who made us food for those first two weeks.
But for newly pregnant parents?
How about making like a chalkboard that she can use to do her weekly bump pictures? The ones that have all the details to write about her cravings, size, weight gain, what the fetus is compared to size-wise, etc? And/or a chalkboard she can use to take the baby's weekly/monthly pics after they are born with the same thing. You might buy them on Etsy or can look at them on Pinterest and if you are crafty, make your own that's unique and much more cost-effective.
One side for pregnancy, one side for baby... food for thought.
And another jem that I still use is our drying rack given to us by good friends as a gift and 5 years later I still use it daily but most likely would have never bought it myself. It was super helpful and its one of those baby gifts that still has a purpose after the little one is a bit older!