Author Topic: Balancing career, health and being a good dad  (Read 3198 times)

BOP Mustache

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Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« on: June 26, 2019, 08:34:12 PM »
Iím 12 days in being a dad with our first child. Iím getting hardly any sleep and back at work being very unproductive because Iím so tired. Iíve put on 4kg in the past two weeks and havenít done any exercise.

Iím waking up on the prompts of my wife as Iím sleeping through the babyís noises even though sheís sleeping on my side of the bed next to me. Iím trying to do a good job at work at home and look after my health but Iím failing I feel at all three.

I donít know what to do. Iíve talked to my wife and sheís talked to me about her tiredness and frustrations too but we arenít sure what to do.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2019, 01:39:11 AM »
Congratulations! Iím not a dad, so feel free to ignore this. Youíre going through the gauntlet of new parents. This too shall pass. Be gentle with yourself. This period is messy and crazy and exhausting. Itís not forever. Talk to your guy friends who have kids, read the books. But mostly know, that youíll always get back to working out, losing weight and kicking ass at work. For now, just be there for your wife and kid, treat each moment as precious, unique and ephemeral.

reeshau

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2019, 02:56:50 AM »
Father of a 4-year-old here.  It sounds like you weren't expecting this?  If so, I expect you had not talked to a lot of other parents.  Sounds normal to me.  As MrThatsDifferent said, this too shall pass.  Survive it, however you can.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  Things won't be perfect.  Enjoy your bundle of joy--you will look back on this fondly, even the absurdity of the 3rd overnight feeding.  Don't be afraid to get help:  whether that's takeout, a nanny, taking family leave (i.e. unpaid), asking family and friends for help, etc.
 (ours was a Baby Brezza formula machine--a Keurig for babies.  Ridiculous, but we were rubbish at making formula in the middle of the night, and DS never really breastfed despite our valiant attempts.  Oh yeah, and a "shusher"--a mechanical sound machine.  No shame here--it's our go-to gift for baby showers now)  Read all the parenting books you can, and understand they will contradict each other--they are just ideas for you to run experiments on your child, and see what works for all three of you.  Talk to other parents.  Look for a stroller at the park and strike up a conversation--it will be 15 minutes of mutual griping, but then you may learn something, and make a friend.

A baby will quickly make you sort out what is most important.  The rest can wait.  When you feel daylight somewhere, you will be able to work on the rest.  What you knew as "normal" is now 18 years away.  (at least!)  Understand this discomfort as learning, and embrace it as such.  You are capable of this, even if you don't know how at the moment.

crammarc

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2019, 09:28:46 AM »
While your current situation is undeniably rough and difficult it is also normal.  It will get easier and routines will form.  I can empathize with the feelings of failing in multiple facets of your life after having a newborn, I was there.  Looking back its a bit of a blur but I survived.  I think just the fact that you feel that way means that you care deeply about being a good husband/father and that desire will help carry you through these initial hard times.  It is worth it and you will get through it :)

Take advantage of help if available to you.  Any family/friends nearby that could help get groceries/run errands for you?  If people want to come visit you could ask that they bring over a dish of food to share so that you aren't adding extra stress trying to host.

Trying to find chunks of sleep early on can be a struggle but take advantage of the fact that one of you can care for the baby while the other sleeps.  I know people that went so far as to alternate nights sleeping in a separate room. 

Enjoy the bits that you can right now and survive the rest!

x02947

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2019, 01:27:18 PM »
Congratulations and welcome to the club! Father of 2 little ones here.

Your feelings, tiredness, and emotional state are completely normal. All new fathers go there.  I was so tired that I once woke up my wife because the baby fell asleep on me and in my sleep-deprived state I thought "Honey, the baby is broken, can you fix it?".  It all honesty, for about the first two-three months life will just suck.  You won't get any (or barely any) exercise, your caffeine consumption will double or triple, and yah, work will be terrible.  But then one day you'll sit back and go "Huh.  Things really haven't been that bad this past week."  Try to just accept it as best as y'all can. 

For alternate angles:
-Would you expect to have the hang of a new job in just 12 days?  As your relationship with your newborn grows, you'll figure things out that work with him or her.

-Pre-baby, if you were to take up a serious new hobby (say running marathons) what would you have given up to make time for that?   How would you have made it fit?  Now, instead of running a marathon, what are you giving up for your new baby hobby?  No matter how much "frivolous"  stuff you give up (TV, computer, etc), there just simply aren't enough hours in the day to take care of a newborn, do a full time job, take care of you, and take care of your relationship with your spouse.  The newborn takes priority, so other "critical" things suffer.  Don't worry.  You'll soon find a new routine and your child won't take up quite as much time.  It *will* happen!
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 01:52:36 PM by x02947 »

tyrannostache

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2019, 04:35:24 PM »
Mom of 2 here. You have my deepest sympathy. This can be a really hard adjustment, and you are currently in the thick of survival mode. That's normal, and it also sucks.

Balancing work, parenting a newborn, and exercise is hard. You can't excel at all of these things. Some of these goals are going to have to be shelved for a little while.

Work:
At 12 days in, I'm sorry you're back to work already. Can you focus just on the essentials? Do just enough to get by and have confidence that you'll get your groove back eventually. Even better, could you cut your time back a bit? Take some leave? My spouse cut back to 1/2 time for month when our second was born, and it really helped with the adjustment.

Health:
Can you put the baby in a carrier or wrap or stroller and go for a long walk? That's how I got most of my post-partum exercise. Look, you're not going to be able to do long, hardcore workouts for a while. For weight gain, I found that the biggest help was keeping healthy food around the house. Realistically, you're going to stress-eat while you're overtired, so make sure there's not too much easily-accessible junk.

Parenting:
At this stage, sleep is key. Can you trade off to make sure that, over the course of the night/day, both you and your wife get some significant stretches of sleep? If your wife is breastfeeding, it can be a little more difficult for you to take over a feeding, but there are things you can do to ease things for her. You can be in charge of nighttime diaper changes for a part of the night, or all night. It sucks that you don't wake up to the baby's cries--that would drive me crazy--but there's really not much you can do about that. You'll just have to figure out what works for you, whether that's splitting up the night into shifts, or both getting up when the baby is up, or you getting up when your wife nudges you. Honestly, we did better when we moved the bassinet to an adjacent room at about 4 weeks. I simply could not sleep through all of the baby's grunts and coos, even with white noise.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. I'm sure everyone has told you this, but it's critical. Don't use that time to clean or cook or do a project unless absolutely necessary. Sleep. Let some things go around the house. Hire it out if you don't have anyone to help you.


FactorsOf2

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2019, 07:03:42 AM »
I have no idea how well this would go over if you suggested it to your wife (I'm guessing poorly), but when my son was born last year I left my husband to sleep uninterrupted in the bedroom while I moved into a separate room with the baby. I was BFing so interruptions in my sleep were unavoidable, and I didn't see that it was really worth destroying my husband's sleep just so he could bring the baby to me or change a diaper. It was worth a lot more to me to know I could lean on him hard while he was awake and expect him to handle all the household and other adult stuff.

In return, my only responsibility was to keep the baby fed and diapered while my husband was at work or asleep, and fit in enough sleep chunks during the night and day to feel decent (I'm assuming your wife isn't back to work yet). We also tried to optimize my sleep; blacked out the windows, moved the baby's bassinet to the opposite corner of the room and used the right amount of white noise so that I heard him when he needed me but didn't get interrupted by random vocalizations, no caffeine unless I got in enough good sleep by relatively early in the morning (otherwise it will inhibit your napping), super optimized nursing and diapering stations in our room so that everything was streamlined for night wakings.

Every baby is different and my boy isn't a particularly bad sleeper so I can't necessarily generalize to your situation, but that worked really well for us and neither one of us felt all that sleep deprived on average.

[We were lucky to have an extra room to make this work.]

Mrs. D.

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2019, 09:52:46 PM »
Congratulations and welcome to the parenting club! As all the others have said - hang in there, deep sympathies, and yes, it will get better. Mom of 2 little ones.

I know co-sleeping is frowned upon by some but it truly was a lifesaver for me. I breastfed both my kids and found that everyone got more sleep if baby and I slept together. The baby was calm and was able to nurse more easily, I could feed without the hassle of getting up out of bed, and DH got more uninterrupted sleep which helped him do his job and take care of our toddler (when #2 arrived). I was really resistant to co-sleeping with my first because many of the books and medical advice (in the US) say not to do it, but when I finally gave in around 3 weeks, I felt like a new person. Obviously that is a personal choice for you and DW and some people just can't get comfortable with the idea.

The first 2-3 months are brutal, but by 4 months you will start to feel like you have established a new normal. Focus on one thing at a time. Right now it's keeping the baby alive and fed. Next is sleep. Then you can focus on your job and exercise. Around 6 months into parenthood it felt like our marriage had returned to being more than just trouble-shooting with the baby. And we didn't have an easy baby so there was a lot of trouble-shooting.

When my first was around 12 days old I remember thinking that being a parent was so hard, so all-consuming, so exhausting that I would never really get my feet back under me. It was incredible to me that so many people choose to have more than one kid. And sure enough, after 16 months, we were ready to try for #2. All that to say....it will get easier and so much better! I'm not going to tell you to try to enjoy this period because when you look back it will all be a blur anyway. But do be gentle with yourself and DW and take any help or handout you can. And keep us posted on how you're doing.

MayDay

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2019, 12:13:20 PM »
Having gone through it with 2 kids who both declined to sleep:

1.  Take more time off work.  It is insane to expect you could return that fast.  Take some FMLA for a few more weeks.
2.  Alternate nights caring for baby (I know nursing complicates this, and I nursed, but this is my biggest regret).  One your on-duty night, the other parent sleeps somewhere else with earplugs and a sound machine.  Use formula as needed, or pump during the day.  SLEEP IS CRUCIAL. 

chemistk

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2019, 06:05:55 AM »
Father of 2 (3 in November).

Shed the self-doubt. Is the baby generally happy, growing? Is mom mostly sane? If so, it will all come together soon. And then when your infant turns into a toddler your world flips over again. And again when they start getting ready for school.

And in the meantime, you just have to prioritize things in your life. And that's okay. Don't let other parents, online or in person, try to tell you exactly how you should be doing things. Don't let yourself believe that there's a 'secret formula' to balancing everything and that you don't have it. And the day you finally do think you've got it figured out, life sucker punches you in the balls when your kid gets an ear infection and is up screaming all night.

As a parent, you quickly look past all the crap and eventually even miss it.

My single suggestion - in a post from a few months back, you indicated that you're working as many as 60 hours a week in a demanding job. Is there any way to possibly negotiate a lighter schedule for the next month or two?

mm1970

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2019, 02:33:04 PM »
I have no idea how well this would go over if you suggested it to your wife (I'm guessing poorly), but when my son was born last year I left my husband to sleep uninterrupted in the bedroom while I moved into a separate room with the baby. I was BFing so interruptions in my sleep were unavoidable, and I didn't see that it was really worth destroying my husband's sleep just so he could bring the baby to me or change a diaper. It was worth a lot more to me to know I could lean on him hard while he was awake and expect him to handle all the household and other adult stuff.

In return, my only responsibility was to keep the baby fed and diapered while my husband was at work or asleep, and fit in enough sleep chunks during the night and day to feel decent (I'm assuming your wife isn't back to work yet). We also tried to optimize my sleep; blacked out the windows, moved the baby's bassinet to the opposite corner of the room and used the right amount of white noise so that I heard him when he needed me but didn't get interrupted by random vocalizations, no caffeine unless I got in enough good sleep by relatively early in the morning (otherwise it will inhibit your napping), super optimized nursing and diapering stations in our room so that everything was streamlined for night wakings.

Every baby is different and my boy isn't a particularly bad sleeper so I can't necessarily generalize to your situation, but that worked really well for us and neither one of us felt all that sleep deprived on average.

[We were lucky to have an extra room to make this work.]
I think this can work, it just depends on the baby and parent.

First, you are normal.  Try and eat healthy food, get some exercise, and sleep.  And recognize that you are not going to be at 100% at work.  You just aren't.

On the "letting dad sleep" front, friends did many different things
- One of my friends did this - slept separately so dad could sleep.  Because he was back at work. 
- I did the opposite.  First, I was going back to work anyway, so dad needed to get used to it.  Second, my hubby falls asleep easily, I do not.  So at one point, he was telling a friend "it's not so bad, he's only awake for 30-45 minutes at a time".  No, YOU are only awake for 30-40 minutes.  You get the baby, hold him upright till he poops, change the diaper, then hand him to me and fall back asleep.  I'M AWAKE FOR 1.5 HOURS.  (From wakeup to feeding, burping, and wrapping like a burrito). 
- Thing to note here is that *I* do not go back to sleep well, and my friend's husband from above has the same insomnia problem.  She falls asleep easily.  So it totally made sense for them.
- One couple, once the baby was a month old, introduced at bottle (pumped).  So, mom nursed the baby at 8 pm, then went to bed when baby went to bed.  When baby woke up at 11 or midnight, Dad gave baby a bottle.  Next feeding was on mom - they each got a solid 5-6 hours at a stretch. Which is HUGE (anything less than a five hour stretch is really hard on your sanity).

Slow road to freedom

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2019, 02:42:53 PM »
Like everyone else, congrats on being a new parent. I used to wonder why, when announcing similar to friends, I got a knowing look and nobody forewarned the lack of sleep - which is akin to toothache (always there, like a chronic toothache).

Like everyone has said, routine will eventually settle in, and somehow you will both sleepwalk through life at some level. It's difficult to enjoy at the time, but take plenty of photos / videos so you can enjoy it later. And accept that you have one priority now (not you) - you'll know when the right time to turn the spotlight back on yourself.

My kids were teens when that happened, but I am a bit of a workaholic...

Good luck!

Buffalo Chip

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2019, 05:57:49 PM »
Congrats!

Iím dad to two and long term aspiring Trophy Husband. Iíve always been the more domestic of the two of us, so having the kids just meant upping my game.

Tiredness is normal. The good news is it gets better as your body adapts and the kid(s) get older. The bad news is you had the best nights sleep youíre going to have for the next couple of decades about 2 weeks ago. My advice: steal time to work out. It helps. Also, accept help. Now isnít the time to turn it down. You need it. And finally listen to the weird advice of other parents. Here is some for you: if the baby wonít sleep, strap them into car seat and put them on the dryer and turn it on. Also, car trips work.

Youíll be fine. You obviously care about your kid and mama.

mm1970

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2019, 06:40:14 PM »
One more thing on the 4kg.  Some of it is exercise - even when I was working and nursing, it was worth it to me to wake up at 4 am 2x a week to go to the gym before work.

But there was a year, at least, where eating was automated as much as possible. Screw trying to carefully cook healthy meals, from scratch.  I ate a lot of pre-washed and pre-cut fruits, vegetables, greens.  Pre-packaged yogurts.  Pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.  Frozen veg.

Eventually I had a "system" of cooking 2 big meals on the weekend, choosing ONE thing for lunch (this week, sandwiches!  Next week: homemade burritos!) 

Lack of sleep will make you gain weight, lack of exercise will make you gain weight, and exhaustion will cause you to mainline chocolate, cheese, and carbs (or is that just me?)  So any way you can automate a healthy diet is key.

LiveLean

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2019, 09:53:41 AM »
Father of two teenagers here.

1. 12 days in, hard to make any general observations. If child continues not to sleep for months, consider going to formula. Don't let the breast-feeding advocates scare you off. I didn't sleep for four months because my wife wouldn't switch to formula and our first son wasn't getting enough to eat. Thus, up all night. At his four-month checkup he had not gained a single ounce in a month. Photos from that time show an emaciated child. I believe, though docs tell me I'm wrong, that's why he's only 5-foot-7 at 16. Thankfully doc insisted we go to formula. Once he switched to formula, problem solved. We all slept.

2. Cut out TV, social media and all time sucks. Place a premium on working out and sleep.

3. Grill lots of chicken and lean meats once a week, keep in fridge, along with veggies. My wife was part of some mom's group that brought us dinners every night for 6 weeks. Unfortunately, they all brought some sort of pasta or lasagna every freakin' night. I gained 15 pounds overnight. Call off the free food.

4. At 6 months, take a parent-and-baby swim class. Never too early to start. My 16-year-old turned to competitive swimming at age 6 and when he graduates high school in 2021, we're going to take a photo in the same spot where we took one in June 2003.

5. Take fewer photos and more video. Our kids were born 6-8 years before smart phones and I wish we had taken more video. What little I have is on VHS-C and other stuff I have to get transferred.

cats

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2019, 04:48:54 PM »
I have no idea how well this would go over if you suggested it to your wife (I'm guessing poorly), but when my son was born last year I left my husband to sleep uninterrupted in the bedroom while I moved into a separate room with the baby. I was BFing so interruptions in my sleep were unavoidable, and I didn't see that it was really worth destroying my husband's sleep just so he could bring the baby to me or change a diaper. It was worth a lot more to me to know I could lean on him hard while he was awake and expect him to handle all the household and other adult stuff.

We did this.  My husband slept in our 2nd bedroom/office while I stayed in our room with the baby.  We did this until 5 mos when we moved kiddo into his own room.

Some hiccups:

1) I did find it emotionally hard not to be able to snuggle with my husband.  We solved this by taking naps together on the weekends and my husband also often sleeping in the bedroom with me on Friday/Saturday nights, when he didn't have to get up and go to work in the morning.  Also, if the baby was asleep at 7 or so we would sometimes just chill out and snuggle until baby woke up around 9-10 and then husband would go down for his full night of sleep in the office.  So if you go to a separate room, make sure you are still attentive to your wife's needs for hugs, cuddling, whatever else you might typically do in your bed that is not sleep.

2) It was difficult to be SO responsible for all the night stuff. If we have a second, I am definitely want to try to do something like have 1-2 nights/week where I get to sleep alone and my husband is in the bedroom with the baby and a bottle of pumped milk.  So if you do propose separate sleeping arrangements to your wife, I'd suggest offering her a night or two on her own each week once you get your baby used to a bottle.  Doing it just 1-2x/week shouldn't mess up her milk supply and getting a solid 6-8 hour stretch of sleep even occasionally is SO NICE at that age.

I would say though, that at 12 days in you are still figuring a lot out and in the most intense phase and it's going to start getting better within just a few more weeks.  If you can take some more leave now I would really encourage you to do it.

A Fella from Stella

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2019, 09:39:32 PM »
Iím 12 days in being a dad with our first child. Iím getting hardly any sleep and back at work being very unproductive because Iím so tired. Iíve put on 4kg in the past two weeks and havenít done any exercise.

Iím waking up on the prompts of my wife as Iím sleeping through the babyís noises even though sheís sleeping on my side of the bed next to me. Iím trying to do a good job at work at home and look after my health but Iím failing I feel at all three.

I donít know what to do. Iíve talked to my wife and sheís talked to me about her tiredness and frustrations too but we arenít sure what to do.

You will be off balance because the baby needs you so much.

The other day my wife and I saw a guy walking down the street. He was about 40 and had a good build (no shirt). She said, when I see guys like that, all I think is they have nothing going on.

Having gotten my weight down and build up when I was 30, I completely agree. The only reason I could do it was because I was working away from my family for 6 months, so I practically lived at the gym and the rest of my time was spent at the office or reading books.

CindyBS

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2019, 04:51:01 PM »
One thing that DH and I did when the kids were little that I would highly recommend is that on weekends, we each took a turn sleeping in.  Me on Saturdays, him on Sundays, but at least 1 day per week we got some extra sleep.  I was breastfeeding so that involved some planning with pumping and bottles but it was a life saver.   

Now the kids are teens and we bemoan that we have to pry them out of bed.  Hang in there, it is rough at first but does get better. 

BOP Mustache

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2019, 02:24:06 PM »
Thanks everyone. Baby is 4 weeks old now and feeding every 4 hours or so during the night so getting a bit more sleep. Have asked the mother n law to help out during the week and she stays s few nights to help out.

Suggestions of bulk cooking meats and veggies on the weekend worked well last week and will continue. Not being so hard on ourselves too.

KBCB

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2019, 06:50:22 PM »
It's tough for every side when there is a new born. I wish you all the luck and that things get better fast.

My advice to you is that you try to take a little time to do a little self care. Meal prep, take a walk around the block or just sit alone with some coffee in the morning. This new born phase will feel like an eternity. It did for me, but looking back now it went by fast (just not in the moment.)

Try to get help from family if you can. They saved me!!

You are a good dad to even write this post. Keep up the good work!!!

Maverick1

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Re: Balancing career, health and being a good dad
« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2019, 11:37:24 PM »
Welcome to parenthood! Itís these struggles that makes watching them grow up and develop so worthwhile.