It’s June and that means I’m focusing on dads and partners all month long. In this blog, I’m covering a topic that’s just not discussed enough – self-care for dads. That’s right, dads, dudelas, and non-birthing people you need some self-care, too! Especially for those of you who are parenting a newborn.
Sure, you might not have given birth to a newborn recently but adding a new baby to your family can be trying for all and dads feel it, too. Dads often soldier through this period stoically, which can lead to resentment issues, depression, and even anxiety. I want to change that. I want to better support all parents so that this period can be met with success, rather than strife.
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. It’s necessary – even if you didn’t give birth.
And it’s also worth noting – when you take care of yourself, you can be better equipped to help take care of the family. You’ll be a better partner, parent, employee, and friend if your basic needs are met. So let’s make a commitment to taking care of everyone in the family, even dads!
As a dad or co-parent, you might not be into bath bombs and massages, and if you are that’s cool too, but there are ways to prioritize yourself so that you can be at your best. And before you roll your eyes at me, don’t knock it until you try it. I promise you’ll feel better if you take care of yourself.
So dads, let’s dive right in. Here are some of my favorite self-care for dads and partners tips:
- Make it a priority! Just like in my version of this blog for moms and birthing people, I highlight the importance of believing in self-care and making it a reality. The same goes for you, dad. I know you’re busy with work, a young family, and all of that – but you gotta care for you, too. Your mental health and your physical health depend on it.
- Join a support group! There are several new dad groups around Northern Colorado that will help connect you to other new dads and allow you to find information and help so you can be a great dad and partner to your spouse. A couple of my favorites are Dad’s Liquid Therapy and DadSpace. (And if you know of others let me know so I post about them)
- Find a hobby! I know, I know – you’re busy with work and kids, but it’s still important that you find ways to feed your soul. Join a gym or a book club. Take a class or hit some balls at the golf course. Your hobby shouldn’t take up all your free time, but you should try to make an effort to do something the will re-energize you.
- Talk about it! Dads can absolutely face postpartum depression and anxiety, too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, irritable, and stressed, it could be time to chat with a professional. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness – adding a baby to the family is a BIG deal and there’s a lot to work through. You will find so much relief in talking about it all.
- Make time for dates! You and your spouse are in a hard period that requires so much work, grace, and teamwork. But there is a reason you are together and sometimes it takes a little extra work to reconnect after a baby – but I promise it’s worth it. Spending time together will fuel your souls and improve your ability to work together in this stressful time. Try spending at least 20 minutes every day with your partner talking about something other than the kids. As Dr. Gottman says, “Keep building those Love Maps.”
- Move your body! Again, I know it’s hard to fit all of this in but please try to make time to exercise a couple of times a week. Nothing crazy, just move your body. Go for a walk. Use the elliptical in the basement. Ask a friend to move that dad-bod with you. Something about sweating and releasing endorphins is a great way to take care of you.
- Prioritize your work-life balance! If not now, when? I know it’s hard when you feel the pressure of a new person in the family to financially care for, but learning to say no and setting proper boundaries with your work is key to improving your work-life balance. Having a newborn is a great impetus to redefine where you spend your time.
- Sleep! I know it’s easier said than done, you must get good sleep if you’re not already. I know it’s tempting to stay up after everyone so you can have some peace and quiet, but now is not the time to see the wee hours of the morning. It’s easier to keep up with it all if you’re well-rested. And I know, it’s hard with a newborn but don’t make it worse by staying up later than needed.
- Get help! If you and your partner are struggling to manage life with a newborn, get help! Ask a friend or family member to come hang with the baby so you can sleep or go out on a date. Do couples counseling. Do individual counseling. We aren’t meant to do this all alone. You can also always call me. I’m here to support you in this postpartum period – if I can’t help, I’ll connect you to someone who can.
And dads, this isn’t meant as a dig – I just want you to know that self-care for dads and partners is important. You must take care of yourself (and support your partner in taking care of themselves too) so that you all have the energy to keep caring for each other. Let’s normalize self-care for dads and make sure everyone in the family is getting what they need.
Check out my blog to read the other topics I’ve written about for dads this month, as well as helpful information for everyone in the family.