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Sunday, 28 August 2016

6 survival tips for new mums, living with new dads

Dads can feel kind of useless in those early days when you’ve just had a baby. As a mum, you’re getting used to an undersized goblin sucking on your breast 24/7 and you’ll probably be shouting one of the following phrases at him:

•    “What the f*ck is happening? I feel like a cow.” While milk pisses from one of your tits (or possibly both) like a urinating Belgian cupid statue.
•    “I’m so f*cking tired.” Followed by hysterical crying. Only it’s not funny, and your partner stares at you dumbfounded and entirely devoid of anything useful to say.

Father and son wearing dinosaur costumes
Get used to this confused look - dads will do it a lot.

Well, all this is if you’re a normal mother. A zen mama will be sat there listening to classical music after her perfectly non-traumatic hypnobirth. Meanwhile, a doula (who happens to be a Michelin star organic chef) mops her brow, and her perfectly behaved baby sleeps through the night and makes adorable cooing noises. 

I was invited to give some dadderly advice on this life changing event by Pearl at Miraculous Mums. The reality is, you’re probably both in for a rollercoaster ride completely unlike that last scenario, so you need to work as a team to make this experience easier. 

Here are 6 top tips for surviving a newborn with a clueless father in your household.

#1 – Understand that he’s going to say (and do) a lot of stupid shit.
You’re probably already used to your partner being an annoying dickhead sometimes. Now amplify it by 100. It’s likely he’ll come home from work muttering something about how tiring that was, while you fantasise about stabbing him in the heart for the shit you’ve been through that day.

This is the tip of the iceberg. We’re learning how to support you in ways we’ve never helped you out before, and it can take time for us to adapt to our new responsibilities. But we will do a lot of stuff that makes no sense to you. We'll always do our best but can get it colossally wrong too. Trust me from someone who knows, it's never done intentionally!

#2 - Try to make dad feel useful.
We like doing practical stuff. Sterilising bottles, or pumping breasts to express milk to soothe the pain you’re in. It’s a lot of fun, I became a professional milk pumper, and enjoyed storing milk in the freezer while dreaming of making my fortune selling it to perverts on eBay. Read about it here.

#3 - Let go of the baby.
It can be all too easy to be joined to the hip with the baby because of the bond you have, but let dad have his time too. We LOVE taking our babies out for a walk, grabbing a coffee or picking up supplies from the shop, and it makes us feel good because we’re giving you some time to sleep.

#4 – Give us baby related shopping errands.
What man doesn’t love a deep session of research on the Net for some device or something for the home that we think may be the key to solving a baby related problem. Tell us things to look for and we will happily research the best one to get when we have a spare moment 5 hours.

#5 – If you’re able to, let him do night feeds.
Every situation is different, but I remember when I had my new role as the night feeder, I felt like I had a new purpose in life. I always had that time to look forward to when I was at work, and I’d give my son his 11pm feed. It was our time in the dark for him to be cuddled by me and put his tiny hand around my finger. Magical. This evolved into the dream feed where I’d pick him up out of the cot while he slept to give him his bottle.

As soon as we introduced this strategy it took a huge weight off the pressure of having a newborn, and I felt like I could properly bond with my son.

#6 – Give a little trust. It goes a long way.
Gone are the days when men were unable to change nappies. Nowadays we love it. Who doesn't love commenting on their child's faecal matter like Heston Blumenthal in a food lab. The only way to do this is to get close and personal with it. "Ooh, raisins today. This one's swelled up like a grape."

The point I'm making is we want to be involved and while you'll probably hate us for not being able to wake up as easily as you in the night when the baby cries, we are now living in an age where stay-at-home-dads and other great fathers are everywhere.

Dads are amazing parents when we are given the trust to run with it and make mistakes, and I think I became a better man through raising my son and having days or weekends with him if my wife was away and learning from the things I messed up on. It's an incredible experience, and while it's hard, we can do it, and thrive!

Enjoyed this? Interested in the female perspective? You can now visit www.miraculousmums.com for the flip side: “6 survival tips for new dads, living with new mums..."

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