It’s Father’s Day this weekend, and we can’t help but get a little sappy about appreciating the strong and supportive men in our lives.
With many of us recently becoming moms with our first babies, it means that it’s not just us that have had major transformations in our lives – our husbands have as well. And while there are endless resources in the form of articles, social media posts, and support groups for new moms (as there should be), it begs the question: where are these same resources for new dads?
While new dads may not be experiencing the physical transformation of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, they are still very much a part of the journey. It’s easy to put the attention and focus on us as we take on an entirely new role, but it’s time to reframe our thoughts and think about how we can support our husbands in this process as well.
He is not simply a babysitter, a personal chef, or a relative helping out – he is an equal partner in parenting and should be championed as such. Whether you’re recently pregnant, expecting your first child any day now, or have a baby at home already, these reminders are useful for any stage of new parenthood. In between the hazy late-night feedings and frenzied diaper changes, we can use these tips to be a better partner to our husband and support his journey in fatherhood as well.
Without further ado, here are 11 ways you can support your husband when he becomes a father for the first time.
1. Give Him Opportunities To Bond with the Baby
Especially when we’re breastfeeding, it can become easy to assume that we’ll take on the sole responsibility of feeding the baby. However, if you can pump and give your husband a turn feeding the baby from a bottle every other time he/she needs to eat, you can both bond with the baby in that way. Encourage him to hold the baby’s hand while feeding, make eye contact with the baby, and do skin-to-skin contact as much as possible. Those snuggly naps on dad during the first days and weeks are guaranteed to make you fall in love with your husband all over again!
2. Encourage Him To Get Comfortable with Daily Tasks
Whether that’s changing diapers, putting the baby to sleep, bathing, or reading a book, encouraging your husband to get comfortable carrying out these daily tasks will make him feel more involved and allow him to feel confident in his abilities when you’re not around.
3. Verbalize Your Appreciation
You know how incredible it feels when someone tells you, “You’re doing a great job”? Personally, when I was in my first days and weeks of postpartum, that was the single most meaningful phrase to me. Anytime someone would give me that encouragement, my eyes would instantly well up with tears. When you’re a new parent, you’re taking on a role that is so brand new to you, and for someone to remind you that you’re not failing (even when you’re making mistakes) is the best feeling in the world. Simply telling your husband, “Hey, you’re doing a great job” or “You’re such a great dad already” will mean more to him than you know.
4. Be Patient
Take a deep breath. If he’s taking longer than necessary to change a diaper or get the baby buckled into the car, or forgot to take out the trash because he’s distracted, give him grace. Show appreciation for what he does get done and be patient with him if he makes mistakes or drops the ball on certain tasks – he is learning and is overwhelmed and all-consumed by this new baby just like you are.
5. Remember You’re a Team
The best part about being married and raising a child together is that you’re not alone in the journey! Even if you’re Type A and have a tendency to want to control every aspect of what’s going on, let him help and listen to his suggestions. Neither of you are an expert in this field which means you’re figuring things out together. If he’s not sure what to do or asks how he can help, don’t be afraid to (kindly) delegate tasks to him.
6. Trust Him
You clearly trusted him enough to marry him and have a baby with him, so don’t be a helicopter mom when he’s with the baby. Hanging over his shoulder and jumping every time you think the baby is going to slip out of his arms isn’t going to show him that you have much faith in him as a parent. Go into the other room, check off some tasks on your to-do list, or just relax in the bathtub with a book – they will be okay!
7. Avoid Blaming
Look, we’re all going to make mistakes as parents (especially as new parents), so when he messes up don’t wag your finger at him in disappointment. This goes both ways! Tensions are already high when you’re learning how to care for a whole new human being and worrying about their every movement (oh, look he breathed weird right then, didn’t he!?), so playing the blame-game is only going to add to the mental struggle. Remember that you’re both doing your best and you’re in this together.
8. Give Him an Occasional Evening Off
Before you had this incredibly adorable new BFF, you both probably had hobbies you enjoyed doing or friends you hung out with outside the house. Let him have an occasional evening or afternoon off duty (guilt-free) to hang out with friends, go to the gym, play golf – whatever he did prior. He shouldn’t have to give up his passions and social life just because he became a dad. Same goes for you, mama! Take turns once a week doing something for yourselves and you’ll come back refreshed and reinvigorated.
9. Don’t Resent Him Even If You’re Up with the Baby
He may not be up every hour with the baby throughout the night like you are if you’re breastfeeding, but I guarantee that he is providing for the family or showing support in different ways (even if you don’t notice it yet). Don’t forget to recognize and take note of how he shows up to help.
10. Get Food Delivery
Again, even if he’s not up all night or recovering from labor, he’s more than likely exhausted and wants to spend time bonding with the baby just like you do. Don’t treat him like your personal chef during this time and rely solely on him to cook all the meals. Accept help from family members who offer to drop off food or order food delivery so both of you can rest up and focus on your new addition.
11. Ask Him How You Can Help Him
Remember: this list is not all-inclusive! Keeping a healthy open line of communication is key to understanding what he needs from you in regards to support after becoming a new dad. None of us are mind readers, and we shouldn’t expect each other to be. Don’t be afraid to ask him directly how you can help him so his needs are being met as well.
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