Speaking as a dad, to a new dad…
This is going to be the hardest challenge of your life!
It will be the biggest change you experience during your lifetime!
Here are some simple mindset tips to help you on your journey…
- Better life you say? How?
- This is all about the long game
- Adopt a Growth Mindset
- Your brain has already made the decision
- An awareness of postnatal depression
- 0-3 month chaos
It is going to take you time to adapt to your new life and role.
The jump from your old life, to a new – better life.
It’s an overnight shift from your life of flexibility, personal interests, limitless time, buying habits and dedication to your job.
Literally overnight, you become completely inflexible, can’t pursue your personal interests, your time is governed by your baby, you have less money and have less opportunity to dedicate to your job.
Better life you say? How!?
Better, for obvious reasons.
You have created a little person that you will get to nurture and develop.
You have created an unbreakable connection between yourself and the mother, but above all, better, because you have entered into a life-long journey that will be the making of you.
It is an opportunity to recreate yourself and decide how you want to live the rest of your life.
Make no mistake, this is a LONG GAME!
The great news is that (Heidelberg University, 2019 research) you will be happier in later life, versus those who don’t have kids.
The feeling of purpose and fulfilment from having brought up children is no doubt a big contributing factor.
It’s so important to take a growth mindset to parenting. The well-known phrase coined by Carol Dweck is that every experience is an opportunity to learn and develop. To be fixed in your mindset is to be too results focused.
You don’t need to compare yourself to others and especially when it comes to being a good dad.
You are growing into the role and you will need to practice – not just changing nappies but practice at being patient, present, empathetic, supportive and all the other qualities you want to possess as a modern-day dad.
You have all the tools you need.
In fact, nature has intended for you to be present.
The chemical balance in your brain changes when you decide to become a father.
Yes, when YOU decide.
It has nothing to do with whether you are the biological father or not. Your choice to fully commit to being a dad, lowers your testosterone levels and increases your oxytocin (love hormone) in the brain.
You might not have a blueprint to work from.
This is because the modern-day dad is a fairly new thing.
Our fathers lived a different life. They were generally, less involved from an early age.
More practical than emotional.
More disciplined than supportive.
Let’s not point fingers and criticise, let’s make it up as we go along. That’s what everyone else is doing!
Those first 3 months, you might feel like a spare wheel.
What is my purpose here?
“I can’t feed the baby so ‘she’ always wants mum anyway.”
Just by being there and helping with the practical stuff, you are massively contributing to the well-being of both baby and mum!
Don’t expect anything back in return – that comes later when your baby starts smiling, engaging and developing the dad bond.
Postnatal depression in men is more common than you think.
It’s okay to feel sad.
You are under greater financial pressure, you are sleep deprived and maybe you lack a feeling of immediate purpose.
Everything you knew about your personal identity before baby arrived has shifted.
It’s natural to crave this back and instinctive to reach for an element of control.
Currently, you are on a runaway baby train!
You WILL adapt. It just takes time.
There is so much specialist support available now for new dads and it’s really important to reach out early if you need it. Even if you don’t feel you need it yet, join dad groups and see what sort of stuff they talk about.
Us dads just all want to help each other, as we know how tough it can be!
Newborn – aged 0-3 months
For that first 3 months, it will be chaos!
Everyone will offer different advice. Be open to it, but this is about finding what works best for you, mum and baby.
You will be back at work 2 weeks after your baby arrives and everyone will be asking, how are you?
You’ll tell everyone “I’m fine.” But, you’re not.
No dad is “fine” after 2 weeks!
Be kind to yourself during this period. Don’t expect to automatically perform to the same standard as you did when you were getting 8-9 hours sleep per night.
3-9 months = Self-Care Time
You will start to establish a routine and hopefully a sleeping pattern.
This unlocks the opportunity to schedule self-care time.
I can’t stress the importance of this enough!
You need time to yourself, every day if possible. Your partner also needs time and you need time together.
Find personal purpose for this time to increase your feeling of fulfilment.
Enjoy the moments
Second-time parents enjoy the moments more than first time parents.
That’s the power of perspective.
When you are up at 3am, changing bedsheets, singing nursery rhymes and stressing about the fact that you have to get up in 4 hours, think about this…
Each baby-phase is as short as 2 weeks, so enjoy the journey, enjoy the moments, because it might be the last time you get to do it, before they grow out of it.
Being a great dad is about finding the right balance, understanding the values you want to empower your children with and being able to manage your own state of mind.
If you’ve read to the end of this article, then you are clearly committed to the cause.
You were born to be a great dad – relax and enjoy.
You’ve got this!
Head over to the Mindset Dad Facebook Group to meet other dads passionate about their personal development.
Enquire about our Back to Work Programme for new dads.
Reach out personally about our range of coaching programmes, to help you discover what being a great dad really looks like to you and how you can live out this version of yourself.