No matter what the status is of your relationship with your partner you have the responsibility of being the best you in that relationship. Especially during the newborn phase of your child’s life.
During the first few weeks of pregnancy your partner is vulnerable to PPD (Postpartum Depression) a condition that affects more than three million new mothers every year. It is a mood disorder that where a new mom can feel hopeless, anxious, and overwhelmed. You might see unusual crying and anger. She might have a persistent doubt that she can take care of the baby and in very serious cases may have thoughts of harming herself or the baby.
The most important thing you can do as a new dad is to listen to her and be supportive. Supportive also means listening. If she tells you she is feeling this way, do not get angry at her. And most importantly, don’t try and diagnose her. You learned about this on the internet, you are not a doctor now. Only a doctor can diagnose her and only a doctor can fix her. Your role is to change diapers, feed your baby, and keep them safe. And be supportive of your partner.
Dad’s can get PPD, too. So be mindful of your own thoughts and feelings. If you feel like your adjustment to fatherhood is not going well reach out for help. Talk to your friends, especially friends that have kids. Talk to your parents, your siblings. If you are going through this adjustment alone then reach out to someone. And if you think you are showing signs of PPD then reach out for professional help.
There is also just the run of the mill stress that comes with being a new parent and that’s the experience I can share with you. No matter how much you prepare for a new baby, you will never be fully prepared. Preparation will make life easier, but this is my first kid and sometimes I feel like I only have one shot to get it right. There are many things I have learned to do over the years. At first they are difficult but with practice and repetition I usually get the hang of it and life’s a breeze. Deciding to be a parent is deciding to tackle one new challenge after another.
Sometimes knowing the magnitude of responsibility I undertook can be overwhelming, but I started reaching out early to friends and family. I listen to them share their experiences and add their insights to my repertoire. A lot of things in life are trial and error, and the fear of failure can be great at times. But I have to remind myself that I am not incompetent, I can figure things out and I can ask for help from other people who have been through this before.
My daughter was born eleven weeks early. My wife was diagnosed with preeclampsia and it escalated quickly. We did everything we could to prepare for our babies birth – classes at the county health center, saved every extra penny, read books, listened to podcasts. Then all our expectations or preperation for her arrival felt useless. We had to take everything one day at a time and adjust to life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Everyone is healthy now and are happy to be home but I do miss the support of the nurses and doctors to explain what was normal and what was not. I think the positive side of my daughter being born premature was that the transition from life without a baby to life with a baby came with tons of support.
By the grace of God our little angel got to come home, and as tiny as she may be, she’s the biggest thing in my life.
And that’s the point. I don’t want a t-shirt that says World’s Greatest Dad. Rather I want to share with the world what it is like to be a grateful dad.
Had the experience of bringing a newborn home been something like coming home three or four days after she was born and walking around the house wondering, “Now what do I do?” I think psychologically the situation would be more difficult. As scary as it was to be in the situation we were in I could at least talk to someone about what was going on, what was ‘normal’ and what to expect. If the nurses and doctors weren’t panicking then I probably had no reason to panic.
And now that we’re home, changing diapers, feeding her every two hours, listening to her cry… I feel calm. I have faith that everything is going to be okay. And I am grateful that I get to change diapers. I get to give her a bottle. I get to listen to her cry. And I get to lose sleep. Because none of these things were guaranteed. And they never will be.
So remember to be grateful for every moment, as difficult as that may be when feeling tired and overwhelmed.
This is probably the best summary I have seen on understanding the economy. Knowing how the economy works on the macro will help you make better decisions on the micro by knowing how you fit into the bigger picture. If you haven’t seen the video before check it out and then read on to see how these rules can help you excel in times of economic boom and bust.
Ray Dalio’s 3 Rules of Thumb from How the Economic Machine Works and How you can apply them in your life
Rule One: Don’t Have Debt Rise Faster Than Income
Spending and Debt are the same thing. Spending means what was once your money is now someone else’s money, it’s gone forever. And when you spend the money you do not have, that is future income that is gone forever. Seeing how this can spiral out of control is not difficult. To keep up you will have to increase your income in the future and there is no guarantee that will happen.
Sit down and sketch out a plan determining how hard you want to work today and how much harder you want to work tomorrow to make up for the lost productivity of today and think of debt as lost productivity. To me it makes more sense to work harder today so I can enjoy tomorrow. Achieving that goal comes down to spending.
This is something I need. Whether you like it or not you have to pay the rent-gas-electric-water-whatever.
This is something I enjoy, a want in other words. If you don’t buy it you won’t die. Try it sometime.
This is unnecessary. It is the mindless, thoughtless, not-even-sure-why-I-bought-it things that we buy. Never spend your money on those things.
Take Away: Take control of your Spending.
Rule Two: Don’t Have Income Rise Faster Than Productivity
This one is more difficult to think about on the personal level, but here’s how I am applying it. Let’s say I land a high paying job, or finally get that promotion and my income suddenly becomes greater than my current standard of living. Assuming I am following rule one I won’t have a problem with lifestyle creep and increase my spending. However,what might happen is that I decide to rest on my laurels. Suddenly feeling like I have arrived might lead me to believe there is nowhere else to go. Hence, I acquire an attitude of thinking I know it all and miss the opportunity to learn new things increasing breadth of knowledge or depth of skills. Over confidence in myself leads me to believe that no one else can do what I do.
Opportunities are missed. I fail to adapt.
Someone hungrier than me comes along with new ideas. Better ideas. Innovation swoops in for the win and disruption happens again. Stay humble, my friend. Learn something new everyday.
Take Away: Don’t become Complacent
Rule Three: Do all that you can to increase your productivity
In economics the rule of productivity is that what you do not produce today cannot be made up tomorrow is difficult to recognize in our personal finances. Think of it this way: If I produce 100 units of something today when I could have produced 200, producing 300 units tomorrow does not make up for lost productivity. It means that I missed the opportunity to produce 500 units.
Inevitably, many of us learn how to increase our productivity because we failed at Rule One. Our productivity rises because we are playing catch-up! Now we have a mountain of debt we’re trying to get out from under. The thought of climbing to new heights does not even sound like an option anymore.
Getting spending under control and taking advantage of every opportunity to grow will put you at an advantage. Since many of us are starting at the cavern beneath the mountain rather than at the base it can seem like an impossible task.
I used to feel that way too and I can assure you it is not. Getting today done right will free up the ability to take advantage of tomorrow’s opportunities. And I mean literally today and tomorrow. Thinking about five, ten, and fifteen years from now will do nothing but discourage you in the beginning. That’s like thinking you can leap to the top of the mountain.
Put one foot in front of the other. Tackle one thing at a time. Every step is one step further from where you started and one step closer to where you want to be.
Take Away: Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today!