Diapers, daycare and sleepless nights. Yes, I have officially been a father for over a year now. As I look back now, it seems like a blur. But the reality is that there are many parts of my life that have gone through major changes or, as I like to say, overhauled. And yes, in a good way.
When you become a new father, there are those obvious (or should be) things that are going to change. Is your vehicle able to handle a car seat? The harsh reality is that your two door, sport coupe has seen its last days in your hands. I know, I traded mine in… Where’s the baby going to sleep? What is he going to sleep in? How do I change a diaper? What’s swaddling? How long will it take for my wife to recover? Will I ever sleep again? The list can go on and on…
You know what I really didn’t expect? All the batteries I would need!
Many of the items listed above should be held in the obvious category. No doubt, some good advice can go along way. But I want to share with you some of my insights from the first year. Some of the deeper things I learned as my wife and I raised an amazing little baby to a stumbling, mumbling ball of energy.
Here are 3 insights for the new father.
1) Changing Priorities
The weekend use to hit and the wife and I would be in hot pursuit of where to go and what to do. Movies? Nice dinner out? Go back and forth cause we can’t decide. Oh, the great times. Imagine a car coming to a screeching halt at the suddenly realized red light. Now imagine yourself in the labor and delivery room. The situations are actually quite similar.
Your priorities are going to change drastically and quickly. Now don’t get me wrong, these changes are for the good. You’ll be working together to raise your son or daughter, but they will be different. This is especially true at first. His schedule could be all over the charts. The key is good teamwork with your spouse and solid communication.
You’re going to have to get creative now (and find a good babysitter and quick!). Grandma!! Movies (at home), games, books, ect. will become your new night life. Don’t be surprised by it, or depressed, instead plan ahead for it. Make it fun! And as your little one gets older, start setting up those date nights again. Oh, how sweet those become! Make your little one number 1.
2) Strong Marriage
Possible depression? No sex for how long? Was any of this really a good idea? Yes is the right answer. Having a baby puts a big strain on your marriage, but how much is up to you and your spouse. Fortunately, my wife and I have some great friends with little kids that gave us some great insight. We listened with wide open ears.
Communication is #1. And the earlier you can start communication with your spouse about what the future holds and how you’re going to handle it, the better. How will you handle night-time feedings? Will the mother stay home for good after the baby is born or is it back to work? Daycare or family care? What’s a pediatrician? These are just a few important questions to ask. Schedule a date night if junior isn’t born yet and discuss these questions over a nice dinner. Enjoy it.
Be patient with each other. Neither of you have ever done this before, so go easy on each other. Sometimes you have to put aside your selfishness and do what’s best for the baby. It’s not always going to be easy.
3) Pray for Your Child
Since I am away at work everyday and my wife works at home watching our son, I don’t get a lot of time with him. Because of this, I choose to be the one who puts him to bed each night. It’s nice to see all of the energy fade away and see a lighter side of him. I really enjoy this time . As new parents we need to find ways to embrace those special moments. Don’t let them go overlooked.
One night I was holding his foot as he guzzled down an 8 ouncer (of formula of course) and started asking God to watch over his feet. I prayed that they would always serve him well and lead him in the right directions. After that, I worked my way up and started praying for each part of him. Watch over his hands and what they do. Watch over his heart and what it seeks. That one prayer has turned into a nightly prayers.
Pray for your children… You never know when they might need one of them.
Fathers, please join me and offer one of your best insights for the New Fathers out there. Add it in the comments below.