By Heather Woods
There’s 168 hours in a week. 56 of those are spent sleeping if we’re lucky and about 10 commuting to and from work. I spend the rest wondering how I’ll have time to get everything done, and boy is the list long! Waking up and readying myself, packing the baby’s bag for daycare including her bottles that were sterilized the night before, waking baby for breastfeed, change nappy and dress her ready to leave by 6.45am.
Then there’s the daycare drop-off and getting myself to my desk by 8.30am. Then I have 9 hours of dealing with sometimes questionable individuals before making a break for it to get back to daycare by 6pm for the evening pickup. Drive home in time to feed the baby dinner, bath and then breastfeed before bed as close to 7pm as possible. Hopefully amongst all that I’ve managed to wash the bottles and start the sterilizer plus start defrosting a meal cooked the previous weekend for hubby and I, otherwise it’ll be cheese on toast or take-away. Hubby and I eat before I make tracks to the shower so I can wash the day away and prepare my unruly mane for the next day before finally reaching bed. Then I wait for the baby to wake, as she inevitably will.
Hubby is up and out the door by 5am and not home until at least 7pm so it’s a long day for him too.
It’s been like this for a while now but don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – I love every minute of it! But I’ll assume I can be forgiven for not asking my husband how he is coping with everything as often as I’d like to, the question just gets lost in the chaos. I get asked constantly how I’m coping as a mum and how is it to go back to work etcetera, but others, and more importantly I, forget to ask my partner.
We joke about how little alone-time we have now, and that we need to make more of an effort, but I rarely actually ask him outright how he is doing as a parent. He is always doing his fair share of things around the house, particularly during the early days when I was recovering from a c-section, and he is simply amazing with our daughter. It’s easy to see how infatuated he is, and I know he’d do anything for her.
Dads and partners are equally important when it comes to the parenting role, despite I’m sure, feeling quite useless through things like labour and breastfeeding. But I can honestly say I couldn’t have gotten through the shock of entering parenthood without my partners love and support. But it’s made me question, who checks on the dads?
I contacted Beyond Blue, an organisation that was founded on the principle of helping people suffering from depression or anxiety. I wanted to understand what men go through when it comes to handling their entrance into one of the toughest gigs going around. As it turns out, the frequency of depression in first time dads is 1 in 10! That statistic alone has made me determined to focus more of my time on my partner in crime.
It can all start with the actual birth that brings out some pretty strong feelings, especially if it didn’t go to plan and particularly if there was any difficulty or danger to mum or bub. The problem is men are less likely to talk it through with someone else. As time goes on the change in lifestyle can have some pretty dramatic effects on men’s mental health and as everyone focuses on the mothers it can easily go unnoticed. It’s important for the men to be as involved as the mother when it comes to settling, bathing changing and playing with children so they are part of the whole experience and don’t feel left out on the outer edges. It is also a health benefit to the baby; different processes mean better brain development for the baby, so it’s win win!
So I guess if you do anything today, take the time to ask your partner if they are ok and try to spend a little more time with them than normal. Even another 5 minutes of conversation could go a long way in reassuring them of their place in the inner circle with you and the kids, but most important of all – if they do feel like they have a problem they might actually take the opportunity to vocalize it to you or it could influence them ask for help from someone else.