Being a parent is hard, but it is harder for a first-time dad. It’s a time when life will throw many challenges at you, and you need to be well-prepared to deal with the potential pitfalls of being a dad.
Research shows that one in 10 new dads develop postnatal depression, whereas one in seven experiences high levels of psychological distress. Let’s face it — nothing can fully prepare you for being a new dad. But learning what is about to come may reduce the number of big surprises ahead.
Struggles of Being a Dad
Change of Lifestyle
The first six months of parenthood are the hardest. You will have little time to do common things like eat, sleep, and shower. Except for meeting friends and colleagues at work, you will find it hard to manage time to meet up with friends and do other stuff you love.
Adjusting your lifestyle is key to the joys of being a dad. It will take time and effort to adjust to your new lifestyle. The quicker you adjust, the quicker your confidence in being a dad will develop.
The Transition to Parenthood
Despite the changes in lifestyle, the hard thing about being a new parent is “doing new parental things.” You need to learn what to do and how to do it.
How to change diapers? What clothes do you need to buy? Is it bad to wake a sleeping baby? What to focus on and what to ignore? So many questions and so many things to screw up. The good news is as your child develops and responds to your affection, the “new parental things” become a pleasure. Eventually, the benefits of fatherhood will make it all worthwhile.
Dealing with Guilt
Being a dad can also be an emotional rollercoaster. The feelings of not being able to provide enough money to take care of the family. The feeling of leaving the partner to deal with issues at home. The feelings of not being present enough with the newborn. The feelings of missing the first smile or the first giggle.
Though “Dad Guilt” is not as prevalent as “Mom Guilt“, it is real. Alleviating those emotions requires accepting that you are trying your best for the family. If you are doing your part during these hard times— there is nothing to feel guilty about.
One of the toughest parts of being a dad is trying to balance your work and family time. As a Dad, you have to manage a bit of everything. You need to support your family mentally, emotionally, and financially. There will be times when you so much want to be there with them, but you can’t. You’ll miss out on the key development of your child, the feeds, the little signals, the first time they smile. When you take over at weekends, you’ll be playing catchup.
Open communication with your partner will help a lot. Making the most out of the time is key for working dads.
Managing “Me Time”
You will have little or no “me time” after you become a dad. You will have to compromise everything from getting to the gym, seeing friends, working overtime, and grabbing a beer to watching your favorite movie or TV Series. Having kids means time becomes the one thing you cannot buy, ever.
Don’t get completely overwhelmed juggling your responsibilities. Seek support whenever you need it. Flexible working hours might work wonders during this period. Look for ways to recharge. That’s good for you, your partner, and your baby, too.
Changes in Relationship
Your relationship with your partner will never be the same after being a dad. For many, sexual activities might come to a screeching halt after the baby is born. It is possible that either you or your partner feel too tired for sex.
Take it slow, as things will get easier with time. Talk with your partner about the concerns you have. By sharing the problem and being honest with each other, you can work through it together.
Being a father is sometimes the hardest but the most rewarding job you’ll ever have. It’s hard to exist with so little sleep and try to take care of a helpless being who has no instructions. But it is SO worth it. They will bring so much joy into your life and redefine your world through their eyes to something special. You can do it!