My kids are in their late 20’s, so I don’t remember much about the wee bairn days. Also, they’re adopted and came at 6 months and 4.5 months, so I REALLY had no exposure to Newborn Baby Times.
Got a dear friend, young and energetic and crazy in love with his wife and newly minted son. She’s good, baby’s good, they got home a few days ago.
In your experience, what can I suggest he do in the next few weeks/ months by way of supporting his wife. Making her life a little less draining/ stressful? He freelances and so is home sometimes ALL day.
He’s not desperate, but as the days and nights become a blur, I thought I’d send him a few notes that might help him be a good hubby as well as a fine new Dad.
Shower the wife with compliments about how great she’s looking, how great she’s doing and how they rock as a team. Whenever she’s feeling bad about a misstep or overlooking something reassure her, baby still alive?, roof still on house?, it’s all gonna be okay!
Cook dinner. Whatever you know how to cook, it’s great, no matter what. Can’t cook? Hire a couple of old ladies to prepare some yummy frozen casseroles and spaghetti sauce and other easily frozen/reheatable entrees. Go fetch burgers sometimes and order in a little more than usual, for the first few months, if possible.
Make her sleep whenever the babe nods off. Insist.
Do some damn laundry! Like every other day! See it all the way through to folded in the basket!
Every time you run out to fetch something, and it will be often, bring her back a trinket or candy bar or single flower plucked from the garden.
She’ll still be exhausted and stressed as she finds her way through the scary first months, but she will feel; like he’s a fully engaged partner, that he’s not judging her (as harshly as she’s judging herself!), and that she is loved and appreciated. This can only bode well for the new Mom, I should think.
My daughter and son-in-law had their first last month. My daughter’s an only child, but her husband has sibs, nieces, and nephews, so he has lots more baby experience than she does. He’ll do everything she does except for breast-feeding (duh) but he has bottle-fed their daughter.
Seems to me the best thing a father can do is remember it’s *their *baby, not *her *baby. It’s also *their *household, not *her *household. All the burdens are shared, tho some things may rest on him while she recovers from the whole birthing thing. Little token gifts are nice, but being a real partner in the whole process is so much better. And a father should never, never, *NEVER *say he’s “babysitting” his child. NEVER!!!
Here’s a situation. Dad comes home from work; Mom’s at the door, still in her dressing gown, baby’s crying.
Dad has two options:
A. “What have you been doing all day? Why aren’t you dressed?”
B. “Looks like you had a rough day. Here, give me the baby, you go get some sleep or watch tv or something to relax.”
Only one of these options contributes to domestic happiness.
When the baby cries and he’s around, he fixes the baby’s problem without asking his wife’s advice. Even if this means he makes a lot of mistakes. Her being under pressure to always be “the one who knows” is not fair to her, but also not fair to him - his status as “real husband, real dad” goes down a notch when he acts helpless.
I’ve heard that a few mothers (never met one, but heard of it) are possessive of being “the one who knows”, and IMO this is one of VERY few areas where he should override her feelings and “be the dad who knows what to do and just does it” when the baby cries, even if she prefers he not do that. I think it’s better for them both in the end.
This right here? This is fantastic advice. Baby screaming it’s head off? Pick it up, check it’s nappy, walk it around. Don’t think ‘Well mums there - she got this.’ She would probably like a little break and dad could get it instead.
Laundry is good too.
And unless Mum is really into that kind of thing, don’t patronize her with pep talks, just take care of your kid.
On the sleep issue, the Cub was a bottle baby so both of us handled middle-of-the-night feedings. We alternated each night, so we each knew in advance who got up and who got to sleep. That was really important.
Dad should encourage her to get out for a few hours and spend some non-baby time seeing friends, getting her hair cut, getting a manicure, whatever. It helps being a person without a baby appended to you for a few hours. Dad may wish to negotiate the same.
Also, babies up to about 6 months will sleep through the movies. Wrap them up, and slide into a seat near an exit just in case you need to change a diaper. Keep a bottle ready (or be ready to otherwise feed (it’s a dark room after all), and there you go. You both get out of the house. I was told that the noise (very loud) and the dark trigger a sleep and quiet response in the baby. I tried it and it worked. Happy mom. Of course, my son hit 6 months in the middle of “Firefly” and I didn’t get to see the end. :mad:
I don’t like getting pep talks, and had the opposite problem - I had to learn how to give a pep talk now and then. It felt to me like I was being patronizing, but she knew she needed pep talks and specifically requested it. But I think my wife is odd that way - I think most people usually feel better without one.
Read to the baby. If for whatever reason you can’t get to the store or library to get baby books, that doesn’t matter much at this age. Read the paper. Read the back of a cereal box. Read a label on the baby’s onesie. Read, read, read.
Lots of good things to do have been said - I don’t have any more of those to add right now - but I do have one of the other kind.
If a new mother is opinionated that something should be done a certain way, then (as long as her opinion isn’t a gross violation of one of Caldazar’s important items) - just smile and go along with it, because why not. Don’t try to force her to do things this way or that way, other than (if necessary because she’s having a tough time coping) “you must rest some time” and “you must have some food today”.
In other words, along with remembering what’s important, remember that all the other stuff really isn’t.
Well, I guess one got left off the “important” list, that I think is just as important as health concerns: Be conscious of being kind and loving. It’s easy to get lost in the “must-do maze” and forget each other.
I had a partner who worked from home while we had an infant and he was the worst kind of nuisance. Not there enough to help out, too present to butt out.
Our home was his workplace, so he needed to be able to concentrate and work, so he needed us to keep the environment work friendly and not be disruptive. Hard with a newborn, harder with a toddler, sheer agony with a toddler and a newborn.
At least eight hours a day he couldn’t pitch in to help because he was doing his job. We wouldn’t show up if he worked outside the home and expect him to be available to help out, but it was rough sticking to boundaries because he was right there.
The open plan design of our house meant he heard and overheard everything, and he did my head in with his backseat parenting from upstairs. He did quite a lot of damage to our relationship until he finally stopped telling me what to do; no more calling down advice, suggestions or instructions. No imposing his idea of how our day should be scheduled. No cutting over me to tell off the children. I’d had to learn not to call on him for help because he was unavailable during his work day; in the same way, he had to learn to bite his tongue and leave me to parent as if he wasn’t there.
So I’m going to project that on to your friend’s situation, and recommend that he help when he can help, keep his mouth shut when he can’t, and try to work outside the house as often as is feasible so that sometimes the atmosphere can be allowed to be “family home”, not “office/workplace”. Their milage may vary.
Here’s been my go-to gift for new parents - especially first timers - for more than a decade. It comes from my own experiences.
A maid service. Just for a month or two. Someone who comes in and cleans the house top to bottom. It takes one particular stressor off the new parents while they’re coping with an enormous dislocation in their lives. And seeing your home slowly deteriorate because you’re coping with a baby is really demoralizing.
They’ll get all the other stuff…clothes, diapers and so forth. But someone to take some of the load off both of them - don’t forget the new father is stressed, too - is golden.
I think it’s more of, different people need positive feedback at different levels and of different types. When my mother calls me “gorgeous” (which I’ve never been, and it’s a recent development so I’m not used to it), I roll my eyes, but I also realize she’s trying to be nice; she just has no idea how my positive buttons work despite having installed them at the same time as the negative ones. For other people including my mother, being told they look good is their bread and butter (their actual looks are irrelevant).
So, this is kind of more general advice, but someone who’s been married long enough to make and deliver a baby will hopefully already have a good idea of what kind of treats / gifts / words does their partner like to have. Having a baby will of necessity involve less “us” time, but don’t let it go to zero. Make sure that you-two are still an “us”, not just “baby’s dad” and “baby’s mom”, and make sure that you do some of those nice things even if not as much. You may not be able to eat out by candlelight, but it may be time to search the higher-priced section of your local JustEat app.