I feel like a lot of what I share on social media often revolves around motherhood (specifically). It comes natural to me to want to talk and think through what I’m personally walking through in my little world. But today I thought it may be fun to hear from my husband, Matt, about some of the joys and struggles of fatherhood along with any “tips” he may have for those newborn and toddler years.
Me: OK, maybe we should start with birth and your hospital experience (cue all the laughs from moms who may not realize their husbands have opinions on this too). What did you love about it? What are the things you wished you had known going into the birth of our first?
Matt: The excitement that was building for 9 months and all the things we dreamed about were about to come to life. It’s definitely a cap to all the anticipation and waiting. It was super exciting being in the hospital and having our own brand new family unit after she was born – just you, me, and her. Just staring at her perfect little face and seeing how happy you were was pretty awesome. It was overwhelming how quickly your life changes… from husband to husband AND father in a moment.
As far as the things we brought into the hospital… I think we may have gone a little overboard (haha) and only needed about 1/3 of what we actually brought. I think I mostly remember just trying to do my best to lighten the mood, be a support, and be attentive to what you needed.
Me: Let’s talk about those early months of fatherhood. How was it for you? What are the things that made you feel supportive to me as a new mom? What are things you felt you could take ownership of?
Matt: In the early days there is a lot of uncertainty sometimes… wondering if things are normal or not normal and there was some concern there. I remember the lack of sleep was an adjustment for us both and figuring out our new routine with her. There is a lot of giving of yourself and a need to look at it as a beautiful thing. Some things I practically remember doing was helping to clean bottles, being present so you didn’t feel alone with nursing, taking her in the morning so you could sleep in, taking ownership of bath time and often rocking our babies to sleep after you fed them. I also know that the “witching hour” was a very real and taxing thing for you after a long day with our babies so letting you have some time to yourself to give a reprieve from the day was a way I could practically support you.
Me: What would you say was the hardest part of fatherhood in the first few years? The sleepless nights? Toddler tantrums? How did you find joy throughout the hard times?
Matt: The hardest part for me was coming to grips with the fact that you are a father and although we all have an innate selfishness and desire to do what we want with our time… it all changes when you have a baby. The faster I embraced that change the more joy I experienced with my child. If your thinking is consumed with what you could be doing with your time instead of just enjoying your child in the moment, you may miss out on the amazing events as your child grows. Embracing it changes the outlook on the whole thing.
Me: Let’s talk about discipline and guidance a bit. Often times mothers and fathers have a hard time coming together on their viewpoints or struggle to parent cohesively with one another. What do you think helped us “get on the same page” with our parenting style.
Matt: I think we both came from different upbringings but had similar foundational faith beliefs which made it easier to find a common ground. For us it was a gospel style of parenting that we both wanted to lean into. We might have differed on specific techniques… but through reading/searching and communicating we found more common ground and could always circle back to that. Talking through everything and knowing we both were wanting to honor God through the way we raise our children was very helpful. Also extending grace and understanding we may start out in different places but if we searched for the common ground and ultimately what was best for our child specifically we could always get to a good place. We both wanted to instill in our kids a desire to love God… not just eliminate a behavior through discipline.
Me: So we all know moms love sharing baby product ideas that help them through the early years or make things easier/helpful. What are your favorite things other dads may want to know about or that you wished you had?
Matt: Hmmm…. good swaddles and knowing how to swaddle a baby was pretty key for us, the Happiest Baby on the Block book by was a game changer with our colicky babies (especially the first), the Owlet and Newton was awesome for peace of mind, and a stroller that was easy to use/fold/transport but felt quality.
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