Dear New Dad . . .
Hey there, new Dad! Congratulations on your little one! Now, down to business! Take a look at my logo: Do you see the two hands, holding up Mom and baby? You are those hands.
I get it — all during pregnancy and the birth of your baby, nobody really considered you and you may feel invisible and out of place. Now that baby is here, you have no idea what to do or what's even expected of you. I've put together a little cheat sheet for you:
A new mom's job is to take care of the baby. It is your job to take care of Mom. Maybe you're wondering, well if I'm taking care of Mom, when do I get to bond with my baby? The good news is, by taking care of Mom, you can get in some good, quality baby time. In those early days, nothing made me feel more joy than seeing my boys snuggled together and watching my husband enjoy time with our little one!
If you're taking any time off (I really hope you can), remember, it's not a vacation for you to go off and do whatever you want. This time off is to spend enjoying your new family as well as to help your family settle into a new normal.
"I'm not a mind reader! How do I know what she needs if she doesn't ask me for help?" No, you are not a mind reader, nor is anyone expecting you to be. Here are some tips to point you in the right direction:
When was the last time Mom ate anything? What's her favorite treat? Also allow her the time to eat, especially if it's a hot meal.
Is Mom thirsty? Would she like a cup of coffee or tea? Water? Again, give her the time to actually drink that nice cup of hot coffee/tea.
How did Mom sleep last night? Would she like a nap or to take a rest?
Taking care of a newborn is hard work! I bet Mom would love a nice hot shower!
What's the laundry situation? I'm going to guess that a load or two of clothes could be washed, dried, folded, and put away.
Does Mom need to use the bathroom? Even if just to brush her teeth or take a shower!
Being a new mom can feel lonely sometimes! Would she like some adult time, even if it's only a phone call with her best friend/mom/sister/whoever her person is other than you? My husband always encouraged me to reach out to my people and it was so good for me to do this.
Keep offering, even if she says no every time (feeling cared for is wonderful and it reminds her that you're in this together).
Even just a, "Hey, let me take care of the baby while you ________________, I've got everything covered here" can go a long way! Give her the time she needs to take care of herself.
What about that new mom who doesn't let her husband do anything, declines his help every time even while healing from a C-section, and likes to do things HER way (that would be me)? For example, I was a stickler for the way my baby's laundry was done, folded, and put away - I was obsessed with keeping his drawers organized. I didn't really want my husband doing our son's laundry even though he was perfectly capable and willing. Sometimes, the greatest gift is the time and space for a new mom to get whatever she wants done and done the way she wants it while not having to worry about the baby for a little bit.
Sure, your partner may decline your help and want to handle everything herself. However, you are not off the hook! Food, drink, and most chores don't require a conversation or permission, so especially in those early days and weeks, have at it. The point I'm trying to make here is, don't just let her take care of you, the baby, and the house because she'll do it. Let's remember, she has sacrificed a lot of herself through pregnancy and birth, so help her out. Trust me, you'll benefit too!