Helping Your Partner Get Better Sleep: 3 Tips for New Dads

By Guest Blogger, Sarah Cummings of The Sleep Advisor

New dads, like it or not, for the first few weeks, months, even years of your new child’s life you’re often going to feel a little bit useless.

No matter how committed you are to the idea of being a modern father there are just some things mom is going to do be able to do better. Sorry!

Feelings of inadequacy might start from the beginning. Afterall your partner has just spent the last nine months amazingly growing an entirely new life inside her – before dramatically squeezing it out in frankly a horrendously painful process!

Yes, I know you were there holding her hand but still, it’s not quit the same is it?

Secondly, unequal pay and antiquated attitudes toward parental leave in most countries mean it is still generally financially sensible for mom to take time of work than dad. So even if you want to be the one who stays at home it might not make sense.

Despite these two handicaps, for the sake of your new child, your partner’s health and the health of your relationship, it’s up to you to step up to the plate and hit being a father out of the park.

In my experience as a mother of two, the best way you can help your partner be the very best new mom she can be, is to ensure she gets as much rest as possible. Obviously that’s easier said than done with a newborn demanding their almost constant attention. With that in mind however here are 3 tips to help your partner get better sleep…

  1. Dad, don’t fear the feed!

Just because your partner has the natural advantage over you with her chest mounted milk machines doesn’t mean she should automatically bear the brunt of the late night feeds. That excuse died out a long long ago. Around the time breast pumps, bottles and fridges were invented.

Being able to store breast milk for use later means you menfolk have no excuse for avoiding the 3am summons for sustenance from the crib next door.

But what if you have to be work early in the morning? Well, I’m sorry to say that so does your partner. Looking after a newborn is far more tasking than any spreadsheet you may have to face in the office.

Don’t look at nightfeeds as a chore, taking on this responsibility will allow you to develop a far stronger bond with your little one. For years dad’s have been lamenting a feeling of inadequacy that often comes with being the father of a newborn, in my experience this is because too many men fail to be proactive.

Taking control, or at the very least taking on an equal share, of the the nightfeed, will provide your partner with much needed extra time in bed and give you one-on-one time to bond with your new child. A win-win!

  1. Learn to give a great massage

This one is self-explanatory. The best present my partner ever gave me, apart from buying me a new bed, was taking a massage course in secret. A fifteen minute shoulder massage by someone who truly knows what they are doing can really take the edge of even the most stressful day as a new mom and can put you in the perfect mood for sleep.

  1. Take care of the 3 Cs

Being able to take care of the 3 Cs is going to reduce your partner’s workload by a massive amount and will go along way to ensuring she isn’t frazzled by the time they her head hits the pillow. But what exactly are the 3 Cs…

Cooking: Taking care of cooking for the family is a massive responsibility and unfortunately in all too many households this burden still falls on the mother. I know times have moved on and menfolk no longer expect to come home to find a meal in the oven waiting for them, which is great. Yet too many men I know seem to think that cooking once or twice a week is something to brag about. It’s not! Get cooking boys.

Rule of thumb: Dad’s if you’re able to remember all the meals you have cooked in the last month, then you aren’t cooking enough.

Cleaning: Dads, making sure you haven’t peed on the seat and that your dirty clothes are in the washing hamper is not the same as keeping the house clean. With a newborn on the scene the demands of keeping a household clean and tidy are going to rise dramatically and you are going to have to pull your weight. Taking on the cleaning is an easy win for fathers, put you your headphones, listen to a podcast and kill that dirt.

Cuddling: There is a pressure in modern society for new moms to be superhuman, that is to take care of the household, children and doing it all while looking amazing and showing no emotion. This so-called ‘supermom’ image is a harmful and unrealistic fallacy in my opinion.

Being a new mom is likely the toughest thing your partner will have likely ever done, it is up to you to let her know being emotional is ok. The first thing you do every time you see her is ask…“do you need a hug?”

Well, there you have it – three top tips to help your partner get more sleep. Believe me she is going to need it! Good luck.

 Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

What I’ve Learned From 7 Years Of Marriage

Today makes 7 years ago I married the beautiful girl who would change my life for the better…

Joe Hendricks Photography

Looking back on these past 7 years, my wife has taught me many crucial things and I’m absolutely a better person because of her.

Being married to my wife has confirmed my pre-existing understanding of what true romance is:

That a man truly wants to spend the rest of his life learning how to love the woman of his life; that there’s not simply a “happy ending” to the story just because the guy gets the girl.

Real love from a man to a woman is evolving to a stronger, more mature place, along with her love for him. Evolve is the key word.

It’s not about a happy ending, the way the movies end on their 90th minute right before the credits roll. It’s about an overall happy life-long journey, acknowledging the not-so-happy parts in between that are part of that experience as well, leading to that evolution.

Otherwise, there wouldn’t be the need to evolve together.

That’s how I’ve always felt about her.

It’s almost miraculous that nearly a decade ago when she and I met, despite my immaturity and inexperience as a 26 year-old “guy”, I had enough going on at the time to convince her I was worth her investment.

Joe Hendricks Photography

Because now, as a 34 year-old man, I do have the maturity level and life experience I wish I had when I was a single 27 year-old. But it’s only because of what I’ve learned from being her husband.

Maybe it’s now in this very moment that I am able to realize that despite all the things I appreciate of my wife, the thing I value the most is knowing she is patient to let me learn and work through my own shortcomings..

She always is understanding. Not to mention, she is always willing to give my crazy ideas a chance.

Honestly, it’s this simple: Without hesitation, I can easily replace the word “love” with her name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Jill is patient, Jill is kind. She doesn’t envy, she doesn’t boast, she isn’t proud. She isn’t rude, she isn’t self-seeking, she isn’t easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. She doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. She always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Jill never fails.

That’s how I see my wife.

Granted, I’m fully aware that she and I are both two imperfect people. But we are two imperfect people who ultimately always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere.

Therefore, perfection isn’t necessary.

Photos courtesy of Joe Hendricks Photography.

Dadvice #1: Why Doesn’t My Husband Help More With Baby and Chores?

The Intertwining Role of Father and Husband

June 8, 2011 at 9:17 pm , by 

Six months.

baby crib

I had a sneaking suspicion that a realization was setting in: that at least in my mind, I can’t be a good father without being just as good of a husband as well. The more I processed it, the more I believed it: The role of father and husband are completely intertwined and inseparable.  However, I didn’t just want to take my own word for it.  It’s times like these when I ask the world of Facebook and Twitter.

Something I have learned/taught myself from blogging since August 2005 is the importance of being my own devil’s advocate; addressing any potential arguments by simply answering them before a reader ever has the opportunity to bring them up. Therefore, I knew not to ask the question: “Can a man be a good father without being a good husband?”. Because I personally know men who are wonderful fathers despite being divorced, separated or widowed.

So I cleverly asked my social networking friends, “Can a married man be a good father without being a good husband?”. I received convincing answers from both sides, but ultimately I realized the way I asked the question wasn’t clever enough. Because some of the people who answered “yes” made the point that many moms and dads are stuck in unhappy marriages, mainly staying together for the kids. And while that is sad to hear, I know it’s true.

The DadabaseIn the journey of confirming my perception of the intertwining roles of a father and husband, I learned a better question to ask: “Can a happily married man be a good father without being a good husband?” My own personal answer to that question is “no.”  And if a man could actually be happily married while being a good father and a sub-par husband, most likely he would be taking advantage of his wife somehow, like by not doing his fare share of the household duties.  The man would be living in an ignorant bliss while his wife would be living in a world of “unappreciation.”  So while the man would be happily married, the woman would not.

After all my failed attempts at trying to ask a particular question, the best version is actually, “Can a happily married man in a mutually happy marriage be a good father without being a good husband?”.

Of course I get it that a man can be a better father than he is a husband, but I believe a good father would also be highly concerned with improving his husbandly skills.  I just can’t separate a good father from a good husband, in my mind, at least.

Most importantly I realized that the question isn’t one that can be answered by anyone else anyway. It can only be answered by me, a happily married man who is part of a marriage in which neither party will settle for mediocre.  My wife and I decided from the very beginning that we would end up being one of those old couples who still held hands; who still deliberately go on dates no matter what distractions in life come along.

daddy

Last weekend my wife and I were at Earth Fare, an organic grocery store, having a coffee date.  The woman making our coffees randomly asked us how long we had been married.  Up until that point, she didn’t know anything about us other than what she had observed by watching us wait for our coffee and learning our appreciation for the delicious cookie samples we partook of at the counter.  “This July will be three years,” we answered.

“You act just like newlyweds!” she replied.

For me, a man who is obsessed with being a good father and a good husband in a mutually happymarriage, that’s one of the best compliments I can receive.

baby in crib

dad from day one: The Return of the Classic American Father (Being the Modern Day Ward Cleaver)

Week 16.

While it is a bummer that the classic American father has become a bit of myth these days in popular culture, I can serve as a representative in “dad from day one” as one myself.

I would like to begin with the discernment of a female comedian named Sarah Haskins; I highly recommend watching this humorous 3 minute video clip regarding the following quote of hers:

“Single men in commercials look good, drive fast, and drink beer. Then they meet women, get married, and become good-for-nothing doofy husbands. And what happens if the husband tried to plant his feet and not get bullied in real life? Divorced, money split, wife takes the kids, forever in debt.”

It’s strange how I never gave it too much thought before: How so many commercials and sitcoms really do revolve around a funny yet overweight and slightly incompetent man who happened to score a thin and hot wife who overlooks his bumbling and pathetic behavior.  From Kevin James to to Homer Simpson. (Of course, I fully realize the annoying irony of the fact that it is mainly men who are writing those commercials and sitcoms.)

Yes, they makes us laugh.  But in some subconscious ways, these stereotypes of men also take power (and more obviously, respect) away from men, in general. Does anyone really care whether or not men are portrayed positively in sitcoms and commercials? Or are we just content to just ignore the occasional facebook status hype that “all men are jerks”, or best, the subliminal message that men are jokes?

As a man with solid moral principles and a backbone, I know the truth: Good men still exist.  We’re embarrassed by the worst examples of men; the ones who make the most noise and the most messes. The truth is, being a good man is everything to me. I live for being a good husband and a good father.  It’s crucial that I earn respect from those who know me.

Fortunately, my obsession of being respected as a father and husband isn’t simply my own personal quirk.  I was so relieved and encouraged when I read the book For Women Only. Here’s an insightful quote from female author Shaunti Feldhahn, explaining a major difference in the wiring of men and women:

Notice that one of the main biblical passages on marriage- in Ephesians 5- never tells the wife to love her husband, and it never tells the husband to respect his wife (presumably because we each already tend to give what we want to receive). Instead, over and over, it urges the husband to love his wife and urges the wife to respect her husband and his leadership. Women often tend to want to control things, which, unfortunately, men tend to interpret as disrespect and distrust (which, if we’re honest with ourselves, it sometimes is).”

Shortly after getting married, I read both that book and its counterpart, For Men Only. Thank God for those books!  Marriage makes so much more sense after learning the unspoken things that men and women assume the other already knows on a daily basis.  But if I had to pin it down to one major thing I learned from reading them, it was that men want to be respected by their wives and that women want to feel loved by their husbands.  And more importantly, these books clearly explain to a man how to successfully express his love to his wife and they explain to a woman how to successfully express respect to her husband.

By going against so many of the negative stereotypes about men, I can truly show my wife and son that I love them. I can’t express the value of the reward of feeling like a respected husband and father. So I think if a man proves himself to be respected by people, then people should respect him enough to tell him they noticed his “goodness”, in some way. There’s not a whole lot of that happening these days.

So I do.  I take the time to tell good men that they are good.  Even coming from me, another guy, I know it means something.  Because subconsciously, though we men would never admit it, we appreciate being noticed for being the good men of this world.

I embark on a mission each new day to be the best good man I can be. And I know that the little things are the big things: Helping take care of my 3 month old son in every way I can, not leaving all or most of it on my wife, is a daily staple for me in my effort to be a good man.  I don’t want my wife to be able to joke with her friends about my shortcomings or shortcuts as a dad and husband. Instead, I live to give her every reason not to ever be tempted to do that, even for an innocent laugh.  And despite my constant strive and desire to be funny, when it comes to being a good father and husband, I want to be taken seriously. It’s not a joking matter.

Admittedly, my skills regarding home repairs and car maintenance are lacking- big time.  But I know that being able to fix a car or a garbage disposal doesn’t ultimately prove my manhood.  Being an active, supportive, responsible father and husband does.  Man was created in God’s image. Not Charlie Sheen’s.  Not Archie Bunker’s.  Not Peter Griffin’s.

Recruiting the help of my facebook friends, I tried to come up with an example of a popular American father on TV, who is recent (in new episodes since 2004) and not a widow, a martyr, a robot, or an alien.  Turns out, there was no real, obvious winner. So instead of naming who the modern day Ward Cleaver is in the title of this entry, all I could do was just generically say “the modern day Ward Cleaver”. And while it is sad that the classic American father has become a bit of myth in popular culture, I can do my part outside of my home life:

By writing “dad from day one”.  I can continue making a positive presence in the gorilla marketed world of “baby blogging”.  So it may not be as big as TV, but I still count this blog as contributing to the entertainment industry.  Not that I am THE classic American father, but that I am simply a clearly communicating representative of us all.  It may be nearly impossible to think of a respectable TV dad these days, but I know so many in real life- and that’s what actually matters.

If the respectable American father won’t show up on TV, he can more importantly show up in the real world.

Bonus:

Just to show you an example of the way it has become normal to stop taking men seriously, check out my challenge below.

You get to help me with a small part for my upcoming “dad from day one” entry…

Give me an example of a popular and current father/husband on TV who is respected and loved by his family and is NOT known for constantly making comical messes- especially when it comes to goofing up home repairs or misbehaving in social outings.  *Bonus points if the guy is not shlubby and overweight yet married to a thin wife who is smart-witted, as to humorously contrast the father/husband’s character.

Examples of who I AM NOT looking for:

Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin of “Family Guy”, Kevin James of “King of Queens”, and Jim Belushi of “According to Jim”.

Remember, I’m looking for a current example, so Ward Cleaver from “Leave It to Beaver” or Mike Brady of “The Brady Bunch” would be disqualified.  I will define “current” as “since 2004″, which is the year Friends went off the air and Lost began.

Also, he has to be a popular character on a decently cool and relevant show.  No ABC Family or Hallmark stuff.

He must be intelligent as well as faithful to his family, but he can’t be nerdy either.  So Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons” won’t work.  Also, he can’t be a widow who is overcoming his wife’s death.  He has to be currently married to his wife on the show, giving an ongoing example of what a good husband and father is.

And… he can’t be killed off the show or marginalized in any way.  He has to be a solid, consistent character.

He is not perfect; he does make mistakes. Therefore he is a real man and human being; he is not an alien or a robot.

The winning example will be published in the upcoming “dad from day one” post (possibly as part of the title itself) for thousands to see.

Answer the question: “Who is the modern Ward Cleaver?”

Impress me, friends.  Because in all my creativity the only example I can come up with is Adam Braverman on the series Parenthood.

Good Men Still Exist; They Just Don’t Make the Headlines as Easily

“The handy thing about being a father is that the historic standard has been set so pitifully low.” -Michael Chabon, Manhood for Amateurs

Yes, everyone is well aware that despite all the good men in history who have left a good name for themselves (along with plenty of quotable quotes, with many of them being strong military leaders or respected writers), there are enough deadbeats, scoundrels, and cads to cast a negative connotation on the word “man”.  Women are expected to be saints and givers; sadly, men are expected to be… well, not a lot is expected of men anymore.  But not all good men are long gone.

In the aftermath of Father’s Day last week, the Internet was full of freshly published articles about the modern man, father, and husband.  Two in particular really got my attention.  The first one reviewed the history of TV dads from Leave It to Beaver, to Married with Children, to Parenthood.  It brought out the fact that in the 1950’s, dads were too perfect, in the 1990’s they were often portrayed as bumbling idiots, and now in the 2010’s, TV dads have finally began to look more like real dads.  See http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37758834/ns/today-entertainment/.  (Though I would argue that the 1980’s were good to TV dads…)

The other article that really got me thinking was one I found on Stuff Christians Like, http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/06/the-wild-difference-between-a-mothers-day-sermon-and-a-fathers-day-sermon/, which explained how many fathers in Christian churches feel miserable on Father’s Day Sunday because the sermon is about how men need to step up to the plate and be better fathers, while the Mother’s Day sermon provides nothing but praise for women. 

I definitely see how good men often don’t get the praise they deserve.  Like Zack Morris once said on Saved by the Bell when Jessie declared that all men are jerks, “Hey, don’t judge us by our worst specimens.”  What can we do to enhance the minority of men who are truly good fathers, husbands, and hard-working citizens?

My guess is to call them out on their goodness when you see it.  It seems that if we as a culture began to celebrate the men who are doing right, it would be more of an incentive for those who are just half-way doing it, seeing there is praise and appreciation for being a “good man”.  But when the goal is simply to be better than Charlie Sheen (both the actual person and his fictionalized character on the totally lame yet successful sitcom Three and Half Men), there’s a certain lack of motivation to become a better man. 

In an age where stereotypes of men who are drug to church by their wives end up jumping in a 15 passenger van for a weekend trip to their nearest major sports arena to learn from a former NFL player at a Promise Keepers conference that they should spend more time with their kids instead of watching sports games and that they should share the household responsibilities with their wives and stop looking at pornography on their home computers, then they go back home a changed man for a month, then repeat the process each following year, there are still plenty of men in America who actually already are indulging themselves in being the husbands and fathers they need to be.  There are actually good men in America who don’t have to be reminded to be good.  Because they are already aware of the reward in being a respected man who lives for his family, not himself.

Celebrate the good men in your life.  They may instantly brush aside your compliments or seem embarrassed when you do, but inside it means the world to them.  Of course with good men being the coveted gem in a parking lot full of gravels, my guess is, you already do.

dad from day one: Daddy DJ

Sixteen weeks.

Being that this is the week that our baby can begin deciphering our voices, my wife half-jokingly told me to talk to her stomach.  But as I guy, what do I say to baby who doesn’t understand what I am saying, who just hears a blurry bass tone?

I became Daddy DJ:

“Helloooooo baby…  I am yo Daddy.  I will be taking care of you, along with your mother.  As for tonight, I’m gonna set the mood right for helping you fall asleep…”

Then I begin singing a Barry White version of the first Hall & Oates song that comes to mind, which is usually “You Make My Dreams” or “Maneater” or “Out of Touch”.

*Note: Thursday marks the first day of the new week for our baby.  I’ll probably be posting another one of these pretty soon, but it will be for the next week, not two in the same week.

The Bump Says:

Watch what you say… tiny bones forming in baby’s ears mean the little one can now pick up your voice. Eyebrows, lashes and hair are starting to fill in, and taste buds are forming. And, if you’re interested, an ultrasound might be able to determine gender.

http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/blogs/2ndtrimester/pages/week-16-avocado.aspx?r=0

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com