7 Ways To Prepare For Your New Role As Father
Although it’s hard to ever feel completely prepared for fatherhood, here are some ideas to get you in the Dad-zone before your little one's arrival.
Finding out you’re going to be a father is a life-defining moment. The first few months after childbirth will be everything all at once: exciting yet tiring, exhilarating yet exhausting. Fortunately, none of this will come as a surprise—you’ll have a few months to a few years preparing for fatherhood, both as a couple and on a very, very personal level.
Although it’s hard to ever feel completely prepared to become one, here are some ideas to get you in the Dad-zone as you await your little one's arrival.
1. Read up.
Scan the bookshelves for helpful volumes on preparing for fatherhood; there’s a lot more choice out there than you’d expect.
Adrian Kulp’s We’re Pregnant! and Armin Brott’s the Expectant Father comes to mind, as do the usual pre-parenthood standbys the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and What to Expect When You're Expecting.
2. Save up.
Childbirth is expensive—and that’s only the first major expense in at least twenty years of major expenses up ahead. (Don’t get us started on tuition fees.)
You’ll need to save as much as you can, building a large nest egg that will not only pay for the childbirth, but also sustain your new family over the years. This should include an emergency fund that makes up at least three to six months’ worth of combined salary.
It’s not just about savings—now that you have another life to take care of, you’ll need to sign up for life and health insurance (if you haven’t already).
3. Talk to your wife.
Before the baby arrives, decide on the Important Stuff together with your wife. And there are a lot of Important Matters to discuss: how do you plan to discipline your child? How will you handle money? Who will do the babysitting when needed? Where will you be spending Christmases and other holidays? What’s the plan regarding circumcision? Vaccination? Religious upbringing?
Most important of all – what will you name your child? This is a fraught issue for many parents and their families; parents making lists of names may use the two yes, one no technique to decide if a name fits the new child.
If you disagree on any of these issues, how do you plan to resolve them? Bulldozing your wife into accepting your decisions is bad, but so is saying yes to everything and planting a bumper crop of resentments in the future. Keep channels open—and learn to come to a consensus.
4. Support your wife—but find support of your own.
You’re not the one who had to push a whole person out of their body—your wife did that. And for that alone, she deserves your support.
From now on, you’re your wife’s number one advocate—bringing her to the doctor, defending your parenting decisions to the in-laws, and helping her raise happy, successful kids.
But your support won’t count for much if nobody’s supporting you as well. Find a support system outside of your new family, one that won’t second-guess your choices. If you belong to a church that has parenthood resources, use them. If you’re friends with other dads, strengthen those connections—or look for other dads to talk to at work or in other social situations.
5. Improve your health.
The more fit your body, the better you’ll be able to tackle fatherhood and its stresses. You’ll be doing a lot of heavy lifting, late night feeding, and active play with your kid as they grow older—so you’ve got to have a body that can cope with all those.
This means starting a regular fitness regimen; stopping smoking or vaping; reducing fat, salt and alcohol intake; and seeing a doctor to forestall any issues in your body (get prescribed for maintenance meds, for instance, if blood pressure and cholesterol issues start cropping up).
6. Learn useful domestic skills.
Filipino men are culturally ingrained to let the wife do most of the household chores. It’s changing, but not fast enough for some—men now spend eight hours a day on average doing household chores, up from five hours in 2017, but “it is disappointing… that the bulk of unpaid care work still falls on women,” says Leah Payud, resilience portfolio manager of Oxfam Philippines.
Now that you’re a dad-in-waiting, it’s a great time to start evening the odds—learning what your spouse does around the house, and taking over more of these jobs. You might start with the jobs she hates most—if they hate ironing, be Mister Plantsa.
Immediately after childbirth, you should know your way around the house enough to do everything she used to do.
7. Take advice with a grain of salt.
Everybody will want to “help” you out with unsolicited advice. The worst offenders here will be your parents and in-laws—always ready to advise you on your kid’s name, where they’ll go to school, whether to have the kid baptized, and all that.
Your job is to accept advice… then let it roll off your back. If they pester your wife, you’ll need to serve as a buffer between the advice-giver and your spouse. If you’ve had those important conversations with your wife (see tip #3), nothing they say will change what you’ve agreed upon—but you can at least pleasantly take the advice under consideration, then do your own thing afterwards.
About The Writer
Mike is an experienced travel, technology and lifestyle writer who's been covering Southeast Asia for Tripsavvy since 2007, and contributed to magazines and business websites since the 1990s. Some of his travel work can be found in inflight magazines for Cebu Pacific and TigerAir; his business/tech/finance writing can be found on the sites of his corporate clients from the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong.
A dad of a middle schooler, Mike is not afraid to admit he’s just bumbling along the fatherhood track as he goes along.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.