Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children (Bill Cosby). On the other hand, you may feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz… Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. Trying to understand your wife, who has now become a mother, can be extremely frustrating at times. Being moved down on your wife’s list of importance can be devastating. Let me give you some tips on how to move into this new life of parenthood.
1. Tell her she is a good mom and doing a great job. Most women are terrified of doing the wrong thing as a parent. We all want to be good moms and secretly fear being bad moms. When you point out what a good job she did in a particular instance, it will touch her heart in ways you cannot imagine. It will help increase her confidence in doing what she is doing and help her believe someone has her back in the crazy world of parenthood.
2. Find food. You need to eat, preferably healthy food. She is exhausted from lack of sleep, hormonal swings, and at times, fears doing the wrong thing with this precious baby. Bringing home food, cooking it, serving it, and cleaning up afterwards will cause her heart to fill with love for you. Try to include omelets (or any egg dish); roasted chicken from the grocery store with a salad, fresh or frozen vegetables; grilled meat with fresh or frozen vegetables. Takeout is also acceptable. Don’t ask her where she wants it from or what she wants. Figure it out and go get food.
3. Change diapers, empty the dishwasher, and clean the toilet without being asked.
4. Text her. I love you. Everything is going to be fine, we can do this. You’re a great mom! How can I help? “How can I help” is a great text because you are giving her time to think about it. During the arsenic hour is not a good time to ask. The arsenic hour occurs from late afternoon until bedtime, when the baby is fussy and so is mom! The thought of feeding arsenic to the baby and taking some for herself does not seem like a bad idea during this time. Being asked to make decisions is not good for a frazzled mom; you may get some arsenic, too.
5. Watch the baby while mom goes to the grocery store. Tell her to take her time, that you’ll be fine. She may even stop at the bookstore or TJ Maxx on the way home. This is when you get to bond with your baby. Many times when the mom is present, complete bonding with dad does not take place. Most people understand the impact a dad has on his son. Dads also have a huge impact on their daughters. You need the one-on-one to get the greatest effect.
6. Encourage your wife to seek the company of other moms, with or without the baby. She may need time to go out with her girlfriends to just be. A mom’s group can be helpful, as well as both of you spending time with other couples. This helps by getting her to spend time around more moms. You can make this happen by offering to take the baby or setting up couples’ night out.
7. Offer love, protection and support with no agenda. There is a statue I see periodically, that warms my heart: It is Joseph, holding Mary, who is holding baby Jesus. It provides a beautiful picture of love, protection and support. It is what women crave; a time to let her guard down, breathe, and know someone she trusts has her back. At the end of the day, many women are on empty, with nothing left to give. When you approach her to give her a hug with an agenda for evening activity, she may close down and push you away. Try giving her a hug, let her melt into you and rest. That is all. In time, as you do this, good things will come.
8. Date night. This is imperative for maintaining your marriage. Remember when you were dating and courting her? You need to do this again. It is not unusual for a couple with children to put their marriage on the back burner. Years later, as the kids grow up, you begin to wonder who is this person sleeping in my bed? Your first job is to find a sitter your wife can trust. At this point, your wife is exhausted with no energy to find a sitter. The mere thought of leaving her child with someone will feel like ripping off her arm. This is normal, so you need to ease into this. Call the school, your friends and your family. Have the person come over for a while so your wife can see how they interact with the baby. Next, schedule date night. Watch the baby while your wife gets ready. She may not want to go, so just keep talking and ease her out the door. She will have her phone out and may need to make a couple phone calls home. That’s okay; it will get easier as time goes on. I suggest doing this every week or two. As the kids get older, your job is to get the sitter and feed the kids while she gets ready. As she sweeps into the room ready for her big night out, you are setting a great example for your kids.
9. Parenting as a team is essential. As you spend time together, you and your wife will develop a team approach, which is imperative to raising children. Two components of teamwork include defining the goal – what values do you want to impart to your children – and getting things done in less time. Life is much better in a loving, supportive, respectful relationship. As the years pass by, in time, you will be sitting on the porch, watching your grandchildren. As your children become frustrated with something their child does, you will laugh and say, you used to do that. Life is good.
10. Stop and give thanks, every day, for the miracle that has come into your life.
Mary B. Seger NP PhD is a wife, mom, grandmother and a certified Nurse Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health and a Doctorate in Naturopathy.
She has an Integrative Medicine practice at Otsego Memorial Hospital in Gaylord, MI. Dr. Seger is currently working on a Fellowship in anti-aging and regenerative medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. She is the also the author of “Invite Joy into Your Life: Steps for Women Who Want to Rediscover the Simple Pleasures of Living.” Seger teaches continuing education webinars for CEInternational.com to health care professionals on a variety of integrative medicine and women’s topics. She is an avid runner and biker, and participates in 5 and 10k races and duathlons. She also enjoys skiing, kayaking, sailing and knitting prayer shawls. Website: www.maryseger.com. “The Parent Guidebook” can be purchased from www.amazon.com and through the website www.maryseger.com