10 Ways to Prepare for Fatherhood
Being a first time parent can be an exhilarating and terrifying thing, all at the same time. When you first learn that there is a baby on the way, so many thoughts might be running through your mind. What do I do? What do I say? How do I feel?
Transitioning into the role of fatherhood doesn’t have to be so daunting. Preparing ahead of time will give you the advantage you need to start on the right foot once your baby arrives. Check out some of the following tips to help you prepare for fatherhood:
- Do Your Research. What is it you want to know? There are likely a ton of questions racing through your mind. Write them down, and take some time to research the answers to your questions. Your partner/co-parent is likely questioning similar things, consider doing research together. There are many books specifically written to help first-time parents learn all the ins and outs of pregnancy and parenthood.
- Create a Checklist: After you’ve done some research, create a checklist of all the things you need (or hope!) to get done before the baby arrives. Break the list down into immediate tasks, during the pregnancy tasks, and just-before-delivery tasks. This will help you organize your thoughts into manageable steps.
- Finish any projects around the house. Many men like to think that they’ll be able to handle parenthood and being the home handy man when the baby arrives. However, those first few months will likely be too busy to get to that leaking faucet or to finish painting that one piece of furniture you’ve been sitting on. Try to get these projects done beforehand, so you don’t have to worry about them later.
- Attend a Dad’s Antenatal Class. Most people know that mothers attend birthing classes before delivering, but what about dads?! Look into antenatal classes specifically for fathers. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to assess what kind of dad you want to be and what to expect of yourself and your partner. You’ll be able to interact with other expectant dads and a professional to help guide you into this new role.
- Talk about Co-Parenting. Communication is key when it comes to parenting. Talk with your partner/co-parent early on in the pregnancy to discuss how you’d like to work together to raise your child. Compare thoughts and expectations and begin to develop a plan for how things will look between you two, and between you and the baby, after your little bundle of joy has entered the world.
- Spend time with Other Fathers. Do you have any friends or acquaintances that have kids? Ask if you can spend a few hours or a day with them to see how they interact with their children. You’ll be able to see things that you like or don’t like, as well as have an opportunity to talk with another parent about their experiences.
- Fix Unhealthy Habits. Do you have a habit you’ve been trying to kick? Think smoking, late nights at the bar multiple times per week, sleeping until 3pm on weekends? Any habits you’ve been trying to fix for yourself will also benefit your child. Work to address unhealthy habits before the baby arrives.
- Prepare at Work. Most places are familiar with maternity leave, but it’s also true that fathers are impacted when a baby is brought into the home. Take a moment to speak with coworkers and/or supervisors about how your schedule and performance might change when your baby arrives. Plan for some time off if your job allows, or ask for flexibility and accommodations as you adjust to this new phase of life. Try to get any big projects out of the way as soon as possible and plan for the months after birth.
- Talk about your fears. For some, the idea of becoming a parent feels all too overwhelming. It is not uncommon for soon-to-be parents to feel a sense of loss for the life they’ve been living, and a sense of depression or anxiety related to the big shifts that are coming. If attending antenatal classes and talking with people in your social circle don’t feel like enough, consider a consultation with a licensed therapist who specializes in fatherhood or new parent issues. They will be able to provide you with a safe space to explore your thoughts and address and negative feelings that might be coming up.
- Attend appointments when possible. Going to doctor’s visits with your co-parent is a great way to get excited for the pregnancy and eventual birth of your child. Not only do you get to see them growing by ultrasound, but you also have the opportunity to ask a medical professional any questions you may have.
Stepping into the role of fatherhood doesn’t have to be intimidating. Utilize your supports and do your research to build a strong foundation for when your baby arrives and you become the best father you can be!