I had a lot of fun starting this blog. The stories were fun to rehash, but the posts did not provide much direction or instruction. It was more entertainment than practicality. I’d like to provide both types of rhetoric in the future.
In post number one, I spoke of playing Zone Defense. Zone Defense is the name for the blog, but it’s also both a figurative and literal style of parenting. Letting children make mistakes and learning from their mistakes (as long as they’re safe) is a style of parenting I endorse fully. I felt it was a good, baseline post for the start of the blog. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a look.
In post two, I addressed being okay with putting away the tough guy persona, i.e., temporarily turning in your “Man Card”. Masculinity, aggressiveness, being a man… these are things that are important for attracting a mate, but they become less vital when you’re dealing with a lactation consultant or when a baby wakes up with a soiled diaper at 2 a.m.
I ended the last post with saying it’s not 1950’s anymore and to turn in your Man Card (temporarily). This is still true. In most households, both parents are working and the parents have shared tasks, schedules and responsibilities.
However, “delegation” is not a bad word in parenting. The delegation of responsibilities, especially prior to the birth of your child, is a typical and an accepted standby.
So your partner is pregnant?
As guys, it is not our responsibility to go off birth control, cut back on caffeine, take prenatal vitamins, cut back on alcohol or organize baby showers. Also, most men will not be the main decision makers when choosing what to register for at Babies R Us, Target or Pottery Barn. These tasks can be overwhelming for women, but it’s something they enjoy having control of. I would suggest to be there for them as a sounding board during this emotional transition time. Lean on couples that have been through these types of events in the past. Take them shopping with you. Ask for advice from parents or relatives. Find people you can trust and use the support system you have built over the years.
However, from a dad’s point of view, there are some tasks that we can solely help out with. Taking care of these tasks autonomously can help ease the burden and stress of having your first child.
– Assemble The Nursery
Picking out decorative items is one thing, but there is a lot of grunt labor involved in preparing the room for your unborn child. There could potentially be painting, lighting, window treatments, furniture assembly and wall art. Volunteer to do as much as possible. Call your buddies over and feed them beer. Take the a friday afternoon off and do this as a surprise for your partner and you will reap much praise.
Here were my completed tasks one afternoon. Double stroller assembled. Check. New furniture delivered, assembled and set in place. Check.
Essentially this gives the family comfort. If the baby were to be born at that moment exactly, today, right now… all would be well.
– Assess The Condition Of Your Home And Vehicle
If you’re the dude hanging on to the 1983 beater, two door Mustang coupe… get rid of it. Sell it. Trade it in. You can always upgrade in a few years. If you keep it, it will only soon have milk spilt in it and soon smell like rotten cheese.
If your car needs new brakes, air conditioning or wiper blades… replace them. While being cheap and thrifty is a dude specialty, you’ll want to have the safest, most comfortable vehicle possible for future travel. This doesn’t mean you need to buy a Minivan, just make common sense preparations.
With your home, I would suggest having the furnace/air conditioning checked, air filters changed and carpets cleaned. Allergens can be an annoyance for infants and starting with a clean slate, literally and figuratively can prevent future issues.
Other suggestions? Fix the broken outdoor light. Stain the deck. Clean the garage. When the baby comes, you will not have time for these tasks and they could become fuel for possible arguments.
– Make Sleep A Prioritity
You’re gonna need it. There’s nothing else to say here. You’ll want to be in a peak physical and mental state when the baby arrives. Log some hours in the sleep bank.
– Install And Inspect The Car Seat
Installing a car seat is more difficult than it sounds. They aren’t “click and go”. Most infant car seats are rear-facing. They’re also based on the size of the chid and also the type of vehicle you have. Using the LATCH system makes matters easier, but nonetheless, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration annually reports that approximately 90% to 95% of first time car seat installers incorrectly install car seats on their first attempt.
Luckily, for new parents, a majority of local police departments and fire departments receive federal monies to have a trained employee on staff to inspect car seats for correct installation. We made an appointment and took our our car with installed car seats to our local police department for inspection. The officer said we were close, but it still wasn’t tightly enough fastened to the seat. By driving his knee into the base of the car seat, he more snuggly secured the seat and thus ensured the safety of car travel with the infant.
– Read And Sing To Your Child In The Womb
Studies show that after birth, babies can recognize voices and music that they’ve heard prior to birth. The amniotic fluid amplifies sound. No matter how silly it sounds, talk to the baby, read to the baby, sing to the baby, etc. Fathers begin to bond with babies later than mothers for obvious reasons, but make a concerted effort to bond with your baby long before they are born.
Once out of the womb, the child will be scared and in new surroundings. The child will be searching for things that are comforting and things that are familiar. If the child is used to your voice and your tone, your child will feel safer, be happier, be more comfortable and perhaps if you’re lucky, sleep better.
As a dad, following these simple steps will help you be well on your way to be physically and mentally prepared for the birth of your child. That’s when the fun starts…
What insecurities did you/do you have about being a dad? Who do you plan to lean on when questions arise about having a child?