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Advice to new (and expectant) dads in these crazy times

We spend a lot of our time focused on women's wellbeing during pregnancy, birth and in the early years, that sometimes we can forget dad's are also going through a huge life-changing transition.

So here's a letter I've penned to all the dads out there! Feel free to pass it onto your significant other.

Dear new or soon-to-be fathers,

We are living in crazy times and it’s only natural that you’re both excited and nervous about your role as a dad.

For such an important role we’re not provided much of a handbook and it can be very easy to be overwhelmed with all the advice that’s out there. Between going to hospital for birth in the middle of a pandemic, to knowing what to do with the baby when you get home without having the ability to have lots of people over to help, it’s enough for even the best of us to wobble.

You’re likely worried about your new bub and their mum, attuned into her emotional wellbeing, her physical recovery and trying to catch sleep when you can. Despite the attention mum’s get, we also need to recognise that dad’s can also suffer from all the change going on in their lives. This is especially the case right now when the world seems to be changing daily.

Inspired by Richard Fletcher from the SMS4dads program, here are some top tips for fathers to survive in these crazy times.

  1. Do things that we know help with stress. Get some exercise, cut down on the alcohol, eat proper food and talk to someone about what is happening.
  2. When you do talk to someone, tell them what’s going on inside you, not just what you are doing.
  3. Trust that those health workers are doing their best for your partner, your baby and you. But speak up if you are concerned.
  4. Spend time with your baby, even before they are born. This time at home can be a plus. You get to stay close while they figure out their world. It might be the best medicine of all.
  5. Start lining up help with all the things that you might not be able to manage by yourself.
  6. Ask friends and family how they are managing and connect any way you can, phone, FaceTime, Skype.
  7. If things get rough. if you cannot sleep or relax, if you are very sad and cannot enjoy anything… you are not alone! And none of this is your fault! Get help. There’s plenty of help, but some options I like are Gidget Foundation Australia, Panda and Beyond Blue 
  8. Protect your family and take practical steps to minimise the risk of spreading the virus: Avoid going where there are groups; stay your distance of 1.5-2 meters/ 5-7 feet from others, wash or gel your hands whenever you touch surfaces and avoid touching your face.

Remember these are extraordinary times we are living in, but there is opportunity if you know where to look. Put your own oxygen mask first, give yourself time to adjust to your growing family and remember that being a father is one of the most rewarding jobs out there. Even if there’s no job description!

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