I am so excited to present the first interview series on happy mama happy baby! New Dads on the Block is the place for dads to talk about their experience, thoughts and feelings concerning the first few months of their babies’ lives. I firmly believe that behind every happy mama and baby is a happy, supportive dad. The first few months are especially surreal and with so much focus on mum and baby it is easy to overlook the contribution dads make (and the stress they themselves are under).
First up is Ben, who blogs over at Hello, my name is dad. I have no idea how that guy finds time to blog and answer my interview questions, because he literally became a new dad a few weeks ago! But I’d rather let him do all the talking…
Where and how do you live? How many children do you have and what age are they?
I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my partner, Becca, our newborn daughter, Charlee, and our dog, Party. Charlee was born on September 17, which means that this Thursday she will be celebrating 4 weeks with us. We live about a 15 minute drive outside of the downtown core of Toronto. We own a house and are both employed, albeit, both on parental leave.
How soon did you (and/or your partner) go back to work when your children were born? How did you handle childcare during the first year?
Becca is on maternity leave from her job as an eco-friendly retail store manager. She’ll be off for the next year, maybe 18 months, but may also return back to work part time. I work for the provincial government in healthcare/information technology. I’m also taking time off for parental leave. In Ontario, we get 35 weeks parental leave between Becca and I, and our provincial employee insurance covers a large amount of my income for these weeks. My employer fortunately tops up my pay for 15 weeks leave, so I’ll be taking that in conjunction with Becca’s maternity leave. So, continued from above, after my parental leave finishes in 15 weeks, I’ll be returning to work full time while Becca is at home with Charlee. We can survive on the one income with having Becca take care of Charlee at home.
What are your happiest memories from the newborn phase?
To date, I would have to say that my happiest memories include the moment that Charlee was born and I got to hold her. The moment that we got to take her out of intensive care and bring her home is a close second, followed only by all the different interactions we’ve had a chance to have with family and friends for introductions. Some of the most engaging times I’ve had with Charlee is based off some of the material we’ve read, giving me the ability to calm down Charlee when she cries, and also understand what she’s crying for (care of the Dunstan Baby Language)
What are your top tips for keeping mum and baby happy over the first few months?
I’m going to reference my blog – perfect post for this question 🙂
What was the toughest thing about the newborn phase?
I would say the toughest part has been integrating the dog into our lifestyle, but only because I think we assumed he would just transition as easily as people do. The dog was used to a routine that has dramatically changed, and while before it could be the two of us taking him for walks, or disciplining him when he was acting out, now with the baby, we find it difficult to handle him the same way.
Our solution has been to take a step back and realize that these things don’t happen overnight. We are starting to slowly get him into a ‘new’ routine which involves scheduled walks, and acting differently in the house.
Taking care of two other people can be draining. What did you do to keep yourself happy during the first few months?
So far, I’ve been keeping happy by keeping in strong communication with Becca, and not letting anything fester up. We’re also always getting out for walks and keeping active, eating well, and having tons of play time with Charlee, together.
Any advice do you have for other soon-to-be fathers?
Check out my blog and follow my journey – my entry on 10 tidbits of wisdom about fatherhood is the first of my findings – much much more to come!!