There is no easy way around it, being a new dad is tough, and I mean TOUGH.
Between the late night crying, not knowing your baby, and the constant need for attention (Who knew your baby wouldn’t be self-sufficient straight from the womb?!) the opportunity for frustration to set in is more often than not, RIGHT around the corner.
But who you are now and the man you will be challenged to become are two completely different people. There is no avoiding it should you want to be an outstanding father.
You should take time to consider that taking care of your child, especially right after your baby comes home is going to be like a second job. Don’t you dare pretend that after a hard days work that you’ll get to relax for one second (Unless when you get home your baby is sleeping!!! And if so, yay for you!) Dishes will have to be done, clothes will have to be washed….and folded…..and put away…you get the idea. There is still a LOT to do at home.
Add to this a crying baby. If you’re not careful or more importantly, AWARE, you can easily take your anger out on your little one. Needless to say, you do NOT want to be that guy.
I wanted to give you dads out there a couple of tips on things I have done to quell the raging inferno of anger (Yes, you read that right, RAGING INFERNO OF ANGER) that I have experienced during the first 6 months that Avery has been alive, and to help shed some light on how you can become more aware as a new father.
-First, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with you getting mad! Nor does it make you any less of a father for thinking negatively toward a newborn. You’re new to this and so is your baby, so never, for one second think that you can’t be allowed to get upset.
“Why are you crying?” Why won’t you just be QUIET!” “I can’t take this **** anymore!!” Sound familiar? If not, just give it some time. A quote my best friends mother used to always say was, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” This is something I always remind myself when I find that I am becoming frustrated. At the end of the day, we’re all here for a reason. Either we chose to be fathers, or it came as a surprise. But however you got here, the important thing is that you CHOSE to stay and that you’re committed to seeing this through.
-Cuddle your little one and tickle them to help alleviate their mood. At 6 months old, my son has really started to giggle and so I take every opportunity to try to get some giggles in, especially when he’s upset and crying. You’ll know very quickly if they just want some attention or if they need something more urgent, such as a snack or a nap.
-Walk away or tone it out.
If you have no immediate help, it is ok to put your little one in a safe and enclosed space, such as a pack play or the crib and go into another room for a few minutes to give yourself a breather. Although you may feel bad for leaving them crying and alone in another room, it is very important that when you feel overwhelmed and unable to find help, that you remove yourself from the situation and reflect on what is bothering you.
Headphones can be your friend. When Avery was very young and I had no idea what I was doing (I have a much firmer grasp on things now, and so will you) I would put him in the crib and sit next to him while he cried and put my headphones on, find some white noise on Spotify and crank up the volume to drown out the crying. I would do this for a total of ten minutes in two-minute intervals. I would check on him after the ten minutes was up to make sure that he didn’t need more food or that maybe he just wants to be held. Most of the time, he just needed to be topped off with a little formula and he would fall right asleep.
-Lastly and in my opinion, the most important: ASK FOR HELP.
I know as a man, it’s hard not to have all the answers. But Raising a child isn’t something you want to toss aside the manual for (after all, this isn’t an IKEA dresser that you can just wing the assembly without using a manual!)
Asking for help can be a hit to any man’s ego, but sometimes it’s the best thing for you and most importantly, your baby for you to seek help when you don’t have all the answers. There is nothing wrong with telling your wife “Babe, I can’t deal with the crying right now. I’ve got to escape for a bit. Do you mind taking care of the baby for a while?” But you MUST be open and receptive to when this request is made of you! And don’t take this temporary freedom to go to the bars with your buddies! Gym, run, walk the dogs but don’t be irresponsible. Your only taking a BREAK from your duty, not abandoning it completely.
But at the end of that day, no baby is the same. You may have an easier time than most, or you may have the worst time. Don’t be scared or worried that you are a bad parent for feeling overwhelmed. Just look at these times as a learning experience: You’re learning a little bit about your baby and a whole lot of yourself!
But no matter what you do, never, and I mean NEVER shake your baby. Were here as dad’s to raise strong children, not cause them harm because we can’t control our frustration.
Take a step back to marvel at your creation and appreciate how lucky you are to have them in your life. It has become much better that they have become a part of it and as long as you recognize that, everything else will become much easier and fall right into place for you.
Good luck and stay positive!