How did you support your partner in the early stages of becoming a parent?
Whatever way I possibly could, I would try my best. The early stages are a total shock to the system no matter how much you try to mentally prepare for it so it’s really quite the scramble! I do recall that the late evening period was where I felt I could support my wife the best. Once little bub started her night sleep, my wife would also try to get some sleep whilst I looked after bub, especially if she woke up crying. I would then do a bottle feed closer to midnight and then my wife and I would ‘tag team’. A few hours of sleep for her are not as I much as I would get, of course, but it was at least largely uninterrupted most nights.
How were YOU supported and did you feel adequately supported in the early stages of becoming a parent?
I was supported primarily in having a wife who was so committed, capable and prepared such that I had full trust in her to shape what type of parents we would be in those early years. My wife’s older sister also gave her a lot of day-to-day advice too and I was grateful for that support. Also, men are lucky to be more supported these days (compared with previous generations) in other ways too – I was fortunate to have greater work/life balance and introduction of parental leave entitlements for fathers. There is understandably a lot of support structures centred around mothers and babies, but I do think there is big room for improvement in the support of modern day fathers as well. As an example, there should be more pre-birth education on what fathers can expect to experience as they transition to parenthood – I personally know some fathers struggle with this transition particularly around redefining how they balance the demands of work and new responsibilities at home. It is not uncommon that fathers sweep newfound struggles under the rug as they feel it is overshadowed by the more difficult experiences mothers go through, so prefer to not make a meal of it and end up saying nothing at all.
What is the best thing about being a parent?
Getting to watch your children grow and develop through the different stages of life is by far the most rewarding.
What is the hardest thing about being a parent?
You inevitably have a lot less time to do all the things you used to do a lot pre-kids, whether it’s playing sport or seeing friends or travelling – learning to navigate and adjust accordingly is hard.
Share your top 3 tips or hacks for being a parent.
- Learn about what your wife’s ‘mental load’ is as soon as possible and find ways to alleviate it
- Find and engage with friends who you can share your experiences, as it helps contextualise what you’re going through
- It is normal to feel guilt but remind yourself you really are doing the best that you can
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