First-time fathers, you have waited expectantly for nine months for the arrival of your newborn, having felt the little but strong kicks from your wife’s tummy for several months.
From the moment the nurse puts your baby in your arms, you feel emotional and a sense of amazement, gratitude, and trepidation…
What do you do with a squirming, crying, and fragile baby in your arms? How should you hold the baby? The nurse did not wait for you to get ready!
You stand still and hold firmly; fearful you would drop your little one.
This marks the beginning of your new journey as a parent…
Your life transforms from the moment your baby arrives, whether or not you have psyched yourself up for it. How should you prepare yourself for baby’s arrival? How can you best support your wife, baby, and yourself in the midst of change and chaos?
1. Manage Your Expectations
“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.”
This saying perfectly describes the gift you have received (your baby) as a first-time parent. Expect to have your life turned topsy turvy during the first three to four months of your baby’s arrival.
- If you like your house clean, tidy, and quiet, it would probably be nothing like that at the start.
- If you enjoy sleeping in, it would be a luxury to do so during the beginning phase of parenthood.
- Time you have as a couple will be reduced as your wife would be spending significant amounts of time with the baby, especially so if she is breastfeeding.
- Responsibilities at home would be increased to include the washing of baby’s clothes, bedsheets, and milk bottles.
- Priorities would shift from self and work to caring first for the needs of your family.
Reading the above may seem scary and sound nothing like a gift, but it is also exciting and endearing to grow with your infant through their baby year. The days (or nights) may feel long at the start, but it would definitely seem short when you look back in the years to come!
You may be engaging the help of a confinement nanny, domestic helper, or your parents to care for your newborn. This would help to provide some support for your wife and yourself during this new season of life. However, we encourage you to get involved with caring for your baby as much as possible as this phase is short and precious. Your baby’s first year is packed with key developmental milestones that you do not want to miss. It is also the only stage of life where your child relies wholly on you to provide for his or her needs.
Apart from caring for your newborn, you need to pay close attention to your wife’s emotional, physical, and mental needs. She just had her first labourious child birthing experience and is now enduring the discomfort after childbirth. Your wife is also learning how to breastfeed the baby, which will require her to wake up several times in the night. All these will take a toll on her, so being hands-on as a husband and father will help a lot!
It may be a steep learning curve for first-time fathers as it is not easy to care for babies who are constantly crying to get their needs met. They cry for food, when they are tired, when they want to be carried, or when they are feeling uncomfortable. As you take care of your baby, you will soon learn how to discover the different types of cries your infant makes to communicate his or her needs. Also, practise makes perfect when it comes to diaper-changing or bathing your child. Soon, you will be an expert, especially so if you are changing diapers eight times a day!
It is also useful to sign up for parenting courses to learn from experienced trainers on how to care for your little one.
G.I.F.T. Parenting by TOUCH Parenting is a wonderful course for couples who are expecting a newborn, especially so for their first-born. The course focuses on equipping young parents with the necessary skills, mindset, and attitudes to be confident and competent new parents.
Making time for yourself as new parents take on a whole new meaning and expectation. As new parents, it is important to accept that this season of your life is going to be child-focused, and that is perfectly alright!
Time spent to recharge is important, but it requires intentional planning in advance to seek necessary child-minding support from family members or trusted friends. Periods of rest and recharge are going to be shorter than preferred. Thus, it is important to manage your expectation of what constitutes “me-time”.
Fathers with hobbies that may stretch over longer periods of time may have to manage their expectations by finding new ways to relax and recharge. This is so as time-consuming hobbies like fishing, cycling trips etc, will be fewer and less in frequency.
a. Find simpler and effective ways to recharge.
b. Take turns to recharge if child-minding support is lacking.
c. Be intentional to set time aside to do so.
d. Make time for a walk, a short jog, or a quick meal to unwind and reconnect as husband and wife.
This journey you have embarked as a new father is a lifelong process of growth and discovery as you care for your children and wife. We hope you enjoy the process and always be eager to learn and grow with your children!
TOUCH Parenting aims to strengthen parent-child relationships by providing parents with relevant parenting resources through every stage of their parenting journey. It conducts informative talks and workshops which empower parents with knowledge on preparing for and raising a new-born, navigating the digital age with their child, parent-child communication, and nurturing resilient children and youths. It is also appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development as the Parent Support Provider (PSP) for Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore.