Greetings loyal readers. Today we kick off the first of our guest bloggers in “The Great Blog-napping of 2012”. I can report that as of this posting, little Ampersand has yet to arrive. However, the wife and I are in full on code red, threat level midnight alert so we’ve decided to begin my blogging paternity leave this week. Starting today, and for the next 5 weeks, you will be graced by the presence of fellow bloggers that are likely funnier, smarter, and more good-looking than I (though none of them can top my mediocrity). So without further ado, I give you the first of my blog-nappers; Emily Guy. Take it away Emily!
Emily Guy Birken is a writer, recovering English teacher, and stay-at-home-mom. She lives in Lafayette, Indiana, with her mechanical engineer and toddler son. Her musings on life and parenting can be found at The SAHMnambulist and at Live Like a Mensch.
How To Give Mom A Hand (Without Going Crazy Yourself): Advice for the Baby-Daddy
Sometime around 3am on our son’s first night at home, I looked at my equally sleep-deprived husband over the head of our wakeful and pissed off first-born and asked “Do you suppose we can take him back to the hospital?” Between still feeling the effects of birth, the fact that breastfeeding didn’t seem to be going well, and my son’s engaging habit of sleeping for only 6 nanoseconds at a time, I was pretty much at the end of my rope. My husband took the munchkin into another room and closed the door and let me get a 20-minute snooze, which made all the difference.
You and your partner will hit similar parenting walls, and it helps to have a game plan in place before that happens. Swooping in to save the day will not only win you serious good husband points, but it will also give you a chance to teach baby some of the truly important life lessons that only a father can impart—like never draw to an inside straight. Here are some low-stress ways you can help with common problems when Mom’s clearly had enough:
1. Take baby on a drive. It will give Mom a chance to take a nap or shower or simply stare dully at the wall in the blessed, blessed silence. An even better side effect is the fact that the motion of the car will put baby to sleep, possibly buying you another hour or two after the road trip.
2. Set the baby in her car seat on the dryer. This is another magical arrow in the “Go to sleep already!” quiver. The calming sensation of the dryer’s motion will have baby nodding off while you also earn Mom’s undying gratitude for handling some of the laundry. If you’ve got any skill at sleep-standing, this is also an opportunity for you to “rest” while you keep an eye (and a hand) on the baby and dryer.
3. Bring home dinner. Angels will sing praises to your name.
4. If your wife is breastfeeding, do all the work other than the actual lactating for her. Feeding a newborn is a never-ending proposition. It seems like every time one feeding session ends, Junior is ready to eat again. Make life easier for Mom by bringing baby to her, setting her up with pillows, boppies (you’ll find out), glasses of water and remote controls. If the child has an uncanny knack for getting hungry just as Mom is sitting down to a meal, make like the parent of a toddler and spoon-feed your wife. It may feel silly, but she’ll be extremely grateful.
5. Shoo her out the door. Many new mothers have trouble letting go of baby. Even the most laid back of women may find themselves trying to do everything perfectly. This is especially tough if every time you pick baby up, your wife acts like the child is made of glass and you’re just a big sledgehammer. So call up her best friend and conspire to get your wife out to see a movie, have lunch or get some sort of girly spa procedure. She’ll come back feeling refreshed and you’ll have fun testing out your mad Dad skillz.
You may have heard “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” but this saying is meaningless before you’ve seen your generally even-tempered and rational wife dissolve into tears over a broken pretzel. So do yourself and baby a favor by keeping Mama as happy as you can. Think of it as an investment.