Posted on August 27 2019
Year one with a little one is a special time, but it's also a HUGE change! My wife and I were together for several years, just the two of us, before we had a child. We were used to having free time, being adventurous, eating and sleeping when we wanted, and all of the other amazing things you take for granted when it is just the two of you. Then, our amazing little tornado came along and everything changed. Nothing really prepares you for how significant that change will be and the range of emotions you will feel. I wouldn’t change having my two daughters for anything in the world. Below are a few things parents do not talk about as much that you may encounter.
Lack of Freedom:
The biggest change for me was the lack of freedom and spontaneity. I’ve never been a planner. I prefer to go with the flow and fly by the seat of my pants. To say that takes a big hit is an understatement. For me, is was less about not being able to go places - that change was expected. It was more about the lack of freedom when I was out with my daughter. I’m used to flowing from conversation to conversation, being truly present and engaged in whatever that person is saying. With a little one, I wasn’t able to do that. I wasn’t able to connect how I’m used to because my focus always needed to be on my daughter. I really tried to be prepared for the multitude of changes with having a child, however, this one really caught me off guard.
Dad Tip: Tag team with your significant other when you’re out. Don’t be afraid to share the responsibilities so you both get adult connection time. Take shifts but remember to check in with each other. Look for eye contact or have a code word to signify when one of you needs a break. If either of you are overwhelmed, make sure to communicate, connect and put each other first.
Where Do I Fit In:
My wife exclusively breast-fed our girls for quite a while, which was great for us. It saved us a ton of money, which I loved, and it was very convenient. But, breastfeeding exclusively can also come with its challenges. You think, or maybe it was just me, that babies come out and just know how to breastfeed…. NOPE. Latching can be a difficult, stressful process, especially when you’re both sleep deprived and struggling in the middle of the night. Even worse, you feel like there isn’t anything you can do. It can be really difficult watching your wife in pain and struggling not knowing exactly how to help. This was really one of the times I wish kids came with a manual.
Dad Tip: If it fits with your parenting philosophy as a couple, pumping is your friend. If you can spare her one or two feedings during the day or at night, trust me, allowing her time to sleep and recharge is better for everyone. If you have a guest room, use it so each of you has time to sleep. Early sleepless nights and latching issues are brutal. Keep hope alive. It does get better!
What Do I Do Now:
So, you have your little one, just the two of you and you are bonding. You’ve fed them, changed them…. Now what? I’ve spoken to so many dads that ask, “What do you do with your baby?” You can only have so many staring contests. They are immobile, can’t communicate, can’t play by themselves and, before they start smiling, just stare at you. Granted, it’s a beautiful, amazing stare - but a stare nonetheless. At times, feeling disconnected can be tough reality in this early stage.
Dad Tip: Even inside your house, baby carriers are your friend. It gives you freedom and flexibility to do whatever you need to do. I know some dads don’t like the look, you gotta get over it. It gets you off the couch and lets you walk around, do work and get fresh air if you want. Also, read books! Even babies can benefit from stories, early language development, and hearing your voice. Play music and rock out with them! Music is such an amazing way to connect.
The first year is marked by so many new, amazing experiences. Even with those new experiences, don’t feel bad if it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. That’s completely normal. Raising a human isn’t easy. As parents, none of us are experts and we are all learning and doing the best that we can for our children. Knowing this, try to embrace the craziness and enjoy these times with your baby. Because, not to freak you out, but ages two and three…. BRUH…. It gets super real!