It’s 5:19am. No, seriously, I’m writing this twenty minutes after it was four-something.
I’ve just changed the hundredth soiled diaper on my newborn baby… this week.
I’ve handed Baby back to Superhero (aka “Mommy”) for yet another feeding… and yup I’m going back to work. Luckily I can work semi-remotely but, still, that incredible three hour sleep set I just got feels like winning an Olympic Gold Medal in the luge.
It happened fast, it felt like the blink of an eye, now let’s party!
Well, not exactly. ‘Cause you’re a young dad, meaning you are young, and you’re a dad, OR you’re an older geezer like me with a little baby suddenly in the mix.
What’s the key to survive being a parent of an infant and yet still functioning as an employee, as probably the primary (or sole) breadwinner?
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule!
I love how the British say this fine word, emphasizing the “ch” and all.
The idea here is that, as men, we thrive on order, we thrive on predictability, and we thrive on knowing our role. With an infant in our midst the sense of “things make sense because there’s a pattern to them” can get shoved out the proverbial window. As you transition back to work, be it 3 days or 3 weeks after the baby’s born, make sure you and your partner have a clear understanding that you both need this job to be successful, that you need to thrive in your breadwinner role (or at least thrive to the point that you continue to impress your boss(es)), and that you absolutely must put yourself in a position to excel professionally.
If you are the primary breadwinner then you will need to be alert and alive during working hours. That means you will probably have to defer 3am feedings on work-days. That doesn’t mean that your partner cooks and cleans around your toes while you watch sporting events on your 80” flat screen. Nope, it just means that your schedule must be set to maximize your potential to succeed at work. Talk about it before the child’s birth and in real-time, as best you can. Just remember feelings can be fragile at 3am!
I share these proverbial words of wisdom as the father of a now 39 day old baby. Some might call that “five weeks and change”. I politely disagree. This kid is changing by the hour, most definitely by the day, that to label him by the week simply isn’t fair! A big part of my role is to ensure that the lights stay on, that there is bread, soup, Costco pizza, and chicken off the grill on the table. But none of these things can happen if I don’t excel professionally. If I were to turn all my focus onto my son… we’d be living in a refrigerator box all too quickly.
Balance, Daniel-son, I can hear Mr. Miyagi (from The Karate Kid), say in my ears.
One last thing: see if your employer will allow you to work some non-traditional business hours. Is there anything you could do at home at night or on the weekends, clocking hours outside of 9-5? This might relieve some pressure off your spouse and you, especially if you’ve got a wicked-rough commute.
Good luck on the high-wire act that is balancing work and being a new pop!