Having a Baby? 7 Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier
The first few weeks of telling your friends and family about welcoming a new addition to the family are all smiles and fuzzy feelings. After basking in this initial glow of impending parenthood, you may find yourself feeling a tad overwhelmed. Babies are a lot of work. They aren’t born with the communication skills to let you know the difference between a grumbling stomach and needing a diaper change, so crying is their only mechanism.
Though there will be some sleepless nights, your introduction to being a dad will go much more smoothly if you plan ahead. Everything from laying out expectations with your partner to maintaining a regular fitness routine can make a difference. With these seven tips, your introduction to fatherhood will feel a lot less daunting.
1. Make freezer meals while you have the time
Everyone has a million things to do, which means cooking is often an afterthought. You’ll have a million and one things to do once kids enter the picture, so set yourself up for success now. Subsisting on takeout and delivery once you have a baby isn’t great for your health or your wallet (more on that later) so stock your freezer with as many meals as it can fit. Soups, stews, and casseroles freeze and reheat wonderfully, and you can often double a recipe in the same amount of time it takes to make a single batch. Check out these 50 recipes from Six Sisters’ Stuff to get started.
2. Figure out diaper duty and late-night cry-fests well in advance
Effective communication is behind every good relationship, so don’t let it take a backseat just because there’s another person joining the mix. In this case, you need to talk things through before the baby comes home. Trying to have such a serious talk when there’s a screaming child in the next room is just going to frustrate you both. You might decide to take turns for diaper changes or maybe one person takes the whole night. Whatever type of strategy you use, make sure it’s understood well in advance.
Playing an equal role in parenting duties helps connect you with your child and it’ll better your romantic relationship as well. A 2013 study found families where spouses shared child-rearing and household responsibilities were generally happier. Keep in mind, this doesn’t have to mean each parent does exactly one half of every duty, so find what works for you. If your sweetie cooks every night, maybe you should take care of dishes.
3. Accept help and don’t be afraid to ask for it
There may come a time when your mother or a close friend offers to come over to help out. Instead of trying to act like a hero who has everything under control, you’re way better off accepting some assistance. Even if you don’t step out of your house, having a buddy take over for a bit will at least afford you the opportunity to take a nap.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your friends and family may not realize how much you need them if it looks like you have everything under control. If you don’t have time to make a formula run, one of your pals will be happy to do it for you.
4. Get the right gear
Setting up your nursery with all the essentials makes things a lot simpler once you bring your child home. Brace yourself because there’s a lot of must-haves, especially when it comes to clothes and diapers. Don’t feel like you need the fanciest onesies in the world, though. Infants quickly outgrow clothing, so there’s no need to break the bank. This checklist from Today’s Parent is a good place to start. You can cut some corners, as long as you’re reasonable. Parents shared 12 items you can skip and still be good to go.
5. Figure out your budget
If talking about money makes you squirm, you need to get over it. Your finances are going to take a hit, and both parents have to make some compromises. If there were ever a time to draft a spreadsheet, this is it. It’ll help you be honest about where you can and can’t cut costs. Take a look at these five tips for keeping your expenses manageable.
6. Make time for yourself and your partner
Just because the baby is your first priority doesn’t mean he or she is the only priority. Compromising your physical or mental health is going to leave you feeling wiped out and irritated. You might not have time to cook multi-course meals or hit the gym for three hours, but you should still do what you can. In fact, staying physically fit could help your kids live a healthier life.
Setting aside time for your sweetheart is equally as important. It might seem impossible, but making time for each other just takes a little bit of adjustment. Working Mother suggested scheduling a specific date night and dedicating a minimum of 5 minutes to each other every day.
7. Realize everyone screws up
Maybe you agreed to watch the baby while your partner takes the night off, then accidentally scheduled a commitment at the same time. Maybe you forgot to buy more diapers at the grocery store. Whatever spacey thing you did that makes you feel like the world’s worst father, remember no one gets everything right. According to AhaParenting.com, messing some things up doesn’t mean you’re a terrible dad. Making mistakes and learning how to recover will actually be a great model for you children as they grow up.