Trust me when I say that raising a kid is a full-time job. Or is it a full-time pro bono thing?
But, eh! I should’ve thought this before bringing these two little ones into this world. Now that they are here, it’s already too late to contemplate.
Let’s enter the time machine and see a few glimpses from the third week of my fatherhood.
My wife is struggling to breastfeed the baby, and I am extending every bit of – moral – support to help her. Ofc, I couldn’t offer physical help. Bummer!
Dark circles under the eyes, empty stomachs, over-the-top purchases, and what not!
Taking out time to breathe properly is a big deal amidst fatherhood, let alone taking care of your health.
Don’t even talk about doing anything fun. I’m gonna burst into a tirade. I swear!
I know it sounds feeble to rant and rave about probably one of the most precious journeys of life. After all… I knew what I was getting into.
First, it was the anticipation of a new journey, then it became tough, and it never stopped getting tougher. After a while – with all the calmness sucked out of my life – it became agonizing.
I was losing control over my thoughts, getting irked more than before. I was losing my calm at every trivial thing.
I was chasing with a sickle, everyone who told me that fatherhood would be a wonderful experience. Come out. I only want to talk!
Palpable acrimony was felt in the home. My wife and I… we both were walking a tight rope and felt that the other person isn’t appreciating their effort.
Our lives got unnecessarily tangled, and the need to untangle it was felt. My wife and I decided to work on ourselves and find time to do things that we love, and see if it leads to something good.
Actually, it did.
I realized that becoming a dad doesn’t mean that you pull the plug on personal time. You got to keep doing things for yourself. It keeps us both hubby and wifey away from each other’s throat (metaphorically, ofc).
Though difficult, finding time for yourself after becoming a dad is not an out-of-the-question kind of thing. All it takes is a bit of management and some smart decisions.
The Early Hustle
Once you become a father, your senses are naturally heightened. You’ll always find yourself second-guessing the intent of your baby each time you hear a whine. Not to mention, a mere whimper would just be enough to bring you on your toes.
Also, the pediatrician office becomes your second home. You go there more often than you go to the loo (not kidding). The germ-infested world we are living in, anything as much as a solitary rash, made us take out our car and run to the doc!
Finding time for yourself in the backdrop of all this mess sounds like a pipe dream. So, the best you could do, however, is to make the most of your free time.
Nothing is off the table here! I used to tune into my favorite song and dance to the beat. I use to sit by myself, do nothing, and just think (not about the baby). My wife and I used to joke about each other’s sloppy efforts at being a good father or mother.
It wasn’t much, but it made us laugh for a few minutes. So, the trick is to pounce on every small chance that you get to find a sliver of peace.
Spending time with your partner
When there is a child, everything revolves around him or her. All your thoughts are about the kid; all your decisions are centered around him – the baby shadows your personal life.
So, I used to look for moments that I could spend with my wife.
We used to do dishes together, try to watch something on T.V. together when the baby isn’t keeping us on our toes! We also encroached upon each other chores.
I helped her doing laundry while she used to sit by me when I’m making a work presentation. Haha! She even tried to show interest in football (though she clearly hated it) just so that we could have a few moments together.
We couldn’t go out on dates because we weren’t comfortable with leaving our baby to someone else (Yes, we were like that).
But, focusing on things that the other person loves and trying to show interests into their likings helped us spend more time together. The power of small gestures… we realized how vital they were. And God had to send a baby for us to have that reckoning (silver lining, eh?).
Call you ‘parents’ friends
No one would relate to your ‘fatherly’ struggles better than your friends who are in the same boat as you.
When my single friends ostracized me for being too busy to take out time for them, I found a new group of friends; those who were in the same boat as me. We named our group father-anonymous for apparent reasons.
Believe me, when you are a parent, nothing is better than sitting with a group of people that are equally into this mess as you. It helped us a lot. Once or twice a month, we used to get together and console each other.
So, getting together with your friends who are also parents is a productive activity to have some fun. They’ll bring their kids, and you get to have some fun time without feeling out of place.
Watch more comedy
When everything else feels like a struggle, a few moments of casual laughter feel like a godsend. So, when I found lighter moments in my life drying up, I went out of my way looking for them.
The rabbit hole I went down to was ‘stand-up comedy.’
Yes! It became my favorite thing on the internet. I watched comics on YouTube, I watched Netflix specials, and it helped me tons!
If you’re a parent, watch ‘Baby Cobra’ and ‘Hard Knock Wife’ by Ali Wong on Netflix. Oof! It was my catharsis. Every joke felt a string of my thought.
I laughed at my pain and made my wife accompany me; then we both laughed. However, our laughter was momentary. It lasted only until the little one was silent. But, they were always a good few moments!
Don’t compromise on personal time!
A common trap many fathers fall into: spending time for my kid is an indirect way of spending time for myself.
Well, yes, your kid is an extension of your existence. But this is not how things work practically.
If you ignore personal well-being, this is what will happen in no time: you’ll end up getting frustrated, and a mere cry of your kid will get on your nerves.
So, don’t give up on your downtime and keep rejuvenating yourself to continue being the coolest dad.