Whether you’re a first time dad or preparing for your second or third child, being a father can bring a whole range of emotions and experiences.
Coming into the role of fatherhood is a major transition and, unfortunately, there is no handbook for becoming a parent. It can be one of the toughest yet most wonderful experiences, but everyone will find some aspects of the adjustment to parenthood more challenging than others.
The important thing for all dads to remember is that in order to be available both physically and emotionally for your child, you need to look after and care for yourself.
Be willing to learn
Getting to know your child starts from the beginning. It can be helpful to embrace curiosity and be flexible in your expectations as you learn your baby’s way of communicating. Connecting with your baby each day, by spending time with them and observing their sounds and movements, free of expectations or distractions, is the best way to learn more about them.
Change is inevitable when you welcome a child into your life. This may mean embracing the chaos initially, but it can be a good opportunity to slow down and make space for new routines. Learning to be flexible, sharing responsibilities, focussing on a team approach and making time to check in with your partner can all help you settle into a new rhythm of family life. Remember that this adjustment period will be temporary.
Make time for yourself
Both you and your partner will benefit from making time for yourselves as individuals. This will likely require support from each other, and from family or friends. The time you have to yourself may look different to what it used to, but scheduling intentional timeouts to do the things you love or to have a break can be beneficial to overall wellbeing for both parents.
Look after your body
Staying active and getting good quality sleep (even if it’s less sleep than what you’re used to) can have a positive impact on our emotional health. Getting out and going for a walk as a family is a great way to bond, and get some movement into your day at the same time. Learning how to nap and being creative about how and when to sleep can also make a big difference in how you feel.
Ask for help
If you notice that you’re struggling with your emotional health, do not hesitate to seek support from your GP or health professional. Getting help early is important to start moving towards a more enjoyable and fulfilling parenting experience and help the whole family thrive.
St John of God Raphael Services provides specialist emotional support and counselling for new dads from conception until their child turns four years old. With locations in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales, see your GP for a referral to your nearest location.
Healthy Men, Healthy Minds photo competition
During Men’s Health Week, you can win a DJI Mini SE Drone by sharing your photo showing a special moment between a child and a significant man in their life through our Healthy Men, Healthy Minds photo competition.