What Expecting Fathers Should Know Right Now

By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

In recent years, movies, TV shows, and even commercials have begun to transition from the bumbling, know-nothing father of yore to the modern dad who’s just as comfortable changing a diaper as he is fixing a car. Fathers today range from traditional to single parents to equal partners in every aspect of parenting.

Being a good father isn’t about knowing everything about everything; it’s about loving and caring for a baby to the best of your abilities. And, there’s a lot you can be doing now to prepare for baby’s arrival and the changes that will come with it.

Changes in your personal life

If what you fear most is losing your free time, then you’re in for some mammoth sacrifices. Babies require you to say no to a lot of commitments. Don’t make a lot of outside-the-home plans that you consider optional, at least at first.

For the first six months, going out at night is challenging, especially if your partner is breast-feeding and/or you don’t live near family. However, as your baby ages, leaving him or her with a baby sitter becomes more feasible and less stressful.

Perhaps what you fear the most is the impact baby will have on your relationship with your partner. This fear is valid, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have time to connect. Plan stay-in dates that start at baby’s bedtime. Order food or make a fancy dinner, queue up a movie, or bring out your favorite board game. Try not to talk about baby. Rather, focus on each other and talk about topics that interest you both.

Changes in your professional life

Depending on the requirements of your job, your daily routine may go completely unchanged aside from the uptick in yawns due to late-night feedings and fussiness. Workaholics, however, find themselves at a crossroads. Some choose to cut back on hours spent at the office, whereas others proceed with business as usual. There’s no right or wrong way to proceed. Just make sure you and your partner are comfortable with the arrangement and spend enough quality time with your child. Your smartphone will still be there when baby goes to bed.

Some dads choose to leave the workforce altogether or take work-at-home positions to provide full-time childcare for their newborn. Find what works for your family.

Lifestyle changes to consider

Bad habits are hard to break. That said, you’re about to have a child — a sponge that will soak up your every word and action — so it’s time to clean up your act. Following are a few lifestyle alterations to consider making so you can lead by example without reservation:

  • Control your anger and censor your potty mouth. Kids learn how to treat and interact with others at a very young age. Start revising your behavior now and get used to swearing less.

  • Develop routines. Knowing who does what when keeps you on track when baby throws a wrench into everything.

  • Eat healthier. Use this time as an opportunity to get your diet in order. If you’re already in the habit of preparing healthy foods, you’ll have no trouble providing proper nutrition to your child.

  • Lose weight. If you’re considerably overweight, you’re more susceptible to illness and a shortened life span. Furthermore, children of obese parents are more likely to be obese. Kids learn nutrition and lifestyle habits from their parents, so set a good example and give your child a fair shot at a long, healthy life.

  • Organize and de-clutter your home. Create a safe, livable place for your new addition, which also helps decrease the amount of stress in your life.

  • Quit smoking/drinking too much/taking recreational drugs. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of illness for your child and the likelihood that she or he will become a smoker as an adult. Frequent overconsumption of alcohol makes you less likely to be a responsible parent capable of making good, safe decisions for your child.

  • Spend less money on nonessential items. Teaching kids fiscal responsibility is as important as teaching them social responsibility. Plus, kids aren’t cheap, so stop spending $25 per week on morning coffee and start banking savings to provide a secure future for your family.

  • Start an exercise regimen. Physically active, healthy parents get less run down and are less susceptible to illness. Plus, you want to live a long life with your children.

While all these changes might seem overwhelming, they’ll be worth it to provide a secure, healthy future for your growing family. And by planning ahead now, you’ll find the transition into fatherhood much easier than you were expecting!

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Click here for the full PDF on Debunking 6 Common Myths about Fatherhood.