Babies are made out to be complicated creatures by the baby products marketing complex. Fortunately for you, babies are pretty simple and almost all of the marketing mumbo jumbo is bologna. That said, there’s a few things you can do as a manly father to get the home ready for baby. Since people like lists, here’s a list of 7 things you should do:
1. Get your financial life in order! You should have done this prior to even thinking about having a baby, but just in case you haven’t, make sure you focus on this before baby comes. It can take a lot of mental energy up front, and your upcoming sleep-deprived dad brain will not do as well with this task as your well-rested dad-to-be brain. Focus on reducing all expenses as low as possible in as many areas as possible. If you want to do your family a solid, find out exactly how much money you NEED to spend in order to survive comfortably, and ONLY spend this amount. This will free up quite a bit of money, and this surplus may allow one of your baby’s parents to take an extended leave (or stop working altogether).
2. Assemble the baby furniture. If you bought a crib (or other baby related furniture), it is your duty as a dad to assemble it WITHOUT COMPLAINT! Your baby-momma is carrying your spawn, and it’s tearing her apart (figuratively now and literally in the near future) so she should NOT have to do anything remotely related to heavy lifting. Once the furniture is assembled and placed in the nursery, ask your partner if the layout is to her liking. Keep reconfiguring it until she is happy. If she changes her mind later, do NOT complain, just do as she asks. As the due date gets closer, she gets a pass to have as many emotions as she wants and it is your duty to lovingly acknowledge them.
3. Assemble the stroller. These things are sometimes complicated pieces of shit at first, but once you read the manual a few times and exhaust your repertoire of expletives, you’ll get the hang of it.
4. Install the car seat and learn how to use/adjust it. You’ll be putting your precious newborn in this contraption when you take her home from the hospital, be sure you know how to use it prior to her arrival, because futzing with it when you are sleep deprived after labor and delivery is asking for trouble. If your car seat has a base (something you install in the car and snap the car seat into), you should VERY CAREFULLY read the manual that came with your car seat and your car to ensure you install it correctly. Some cars (older ones) will require you to use the seat belt to attach the base. Newer cars will allow you to use special anchors already installed in order to attach the seat. You get bonus man points if you put a towel or another protective contraption on the seat before attaching the base. That way, when you remove the base in a few years your upholstery won’t be destroyed.
5. Organize the baby clothes, diapers, burp rags, towels, sleeper, toys… Try to organize everything to be convenient for mom. She’ll be in a bit of pain after leaving the hospital and won’t be able to bend or move that well for a few weeks. Make sure all baby things she may want to access are easily reachable. Even if this means just temporarily placing things in convenient areas. Everything you received at baby showers, bought on your own, or got as hand-me-downs needs to be taken stock of and organized. If you don’t think you’ll need it, don’t place it in prime accessible real-estate (don’t put clothes for 9 month-old’s in an easier to access location than the newborn gear).
6. Stock up on easy to prepare food. You won’t feel like making complex meals during the first few days or weeks after you bring your brand new baby home. Since you are in charge of making meals (manly fathers do NOT force new moms to prepare meals – they are taking care of baby). Crock pot meals are great, and you can prepare everything ahead of time and easily cook them. Freezing meals is also a good idea. Having a few frozen pizzas is a good idea in case you are too zombified to do anything more complicated. Ordering take-out is also acceptable once or twice. When you have guests over to meet baby, they will ask what they can do to help. Ask them to bring over a meal – they will happily oblige and everyone wins. Be sure to be stocked up on coffee – you can still have fancy coffee once baby arrives.
7. Pack your labor and delivery bag, and encourage mom to do so as well. Be sure to have one for baby, too. Here’s what I would put in dad’s bag:
Slip on shoes – you’ll go from sleeping to running to the nurses’ station or waiting room often. Messing around with lacing/tying shoes gets old fast. Bring slip on shoes, flip flops or slippers. You could also go full DGAF dad-mode and wear tube socks and sandals.
Sweat pants, sweat shirt, 3 T-shirts – you’ll spend a lot of time being unable to change clothes so make sure you’ll be comfortable during this time period.
Laptop/tablet with movies and music – you’ll be in charge of distracting mom from the more awful parts of being in labor. Movies are nice to watch when things get underway. However, as labor progresses, mom may not be able to focus on a screen. This is when music should be started by you. I brought a laptop so my wife and I could watch Netflix. After the contractions got closer together, focusing on anything else was impossible. This is when we switched to Pandora. My wife and I graduated in the early 2000’s so we picked an early 2000’s pop hits station. We hadn’t heard any of those songs for about 15 years, so it was a VERY nice distraction.
Bluetooth speaker – use this when you switch to listening to music during labor. After baby is born, we played acoustic versions of popular songs (Brooklyn Duo on Pandora is a great station). The hospital rooms are quiet and the TV speakers suck. Also, having all screens turned off made resting easier.
Chapstick – hospitals are dry places. Having chapstick is good for you and great for mom.
Camera – cell phone cameras are great nowadays, so you don’t really need anything else. If you have taken up photography as a manly hobby, bringing the DSLR will let you capture moments in greater detail than a phone camera will allow. Be sure to ask mom before taking pictures of her – she is going through a lot!
Toothbrush, toothpaste, glasses/contacts supplies (if you need them)
Antiperspirant – do not take just deodorant. You will not be able to shower for a day or more, be sure you don’t stink by using antiperspirant
These are some of the main things fathers can do to prepare for their new babies. If you and mom do not live in the same house, you can still provide all of these for your baby-momma. Being a manly father means being a good person to your baby and a good person to your baby’s mom, no matter what.
If I have missed anything you feel is important, please share it in the comments below!