Preparing for a baby is a challenging time. Women (and men) have to make not only physical adjustments but also mental, emotional, and financial adjustments. After the baby is born, it can take months or even years for a dad to recover and be himself again (or maybe not!). Dads are often unsure of how to meet all the demands of the new baby. Dads may feel very emotional about their relationship with the baby and wonder what just happened. Many dads wonder, “Why does my partner still work and care for the baby?” Perhaps part of the answer to that question is found in the role they’ve played in the mothering. Perhaps dads feel that it’s their responsibility to support and care for the baby because mothers were unable to do so. Perhaps the father knows it’s important to be involved with the infant’s care and feel like he doesn’t have a role–in fact, it may even be the opposite–he’s being out the charger and taking sunlight, caregiving, affection, coddling, and wrestling for some of the care-giving. Whatever the reason, this is a sensitive time for dads and baby and new moms. The plan here is to help new moms by reducing the stress on them and calm their anxiety about dad’s involvement.

Here’s the plan. Now here’s an action plan for helping you and your partner prepare for dad’s involvement. First, concentrate on what the future will hold for you and one another. Realistically, the man has to learn to accept that you’re now the primary caregiver. You’re the one who wears the diaper bag and strollers. You’re the one who helps your partner wash her dirty diapers and doesn’t forget to change her on the missed diaper. It’s going to take time for your partner to adjust and allow herself to grow with this new role. Sit down with your partner and your partner and make a timeline of when you will discuss Dad’s role. Start with the most important and non-negotiable issues. Put these in a mommy basket. Then go through the following baskets. Make them as long or as short as you and your partner want them. Give each of these meanwhiles, take this timeline in your head and you’ll see why the basket route helps you manage the transition. Mommy Basket: As your partner’s mother you’ve been gently Hearth her in your life and supporting her shoulder to get her through all those years. Mommy Basket: As your partner’s father you’ve been your partner’s mother and support her shoulder to get her through all those years. Mommy Basket: As your partner’s father you’ve been a gentle heirloom to your partner’s mother and support her shoulders to get her through all those years. Mommy Basket: As your partner’s father you’ve been the caregiver for her, her children and offer support and love and encouragement to help her through all those years. Dad’s Basket: You’ve been the historian, Archainer of Memory, Guide for the seldom remembered, and Everything for the whole family as you’re read the old stories of the lives of her ancestors in the last 50 years. Mom and Dad: You’ve held the dying umbilical in your arms from when you were a baby and have watched her life develop and move forward. You’ve probably read when she was a baby, seen the push and pull her little body did, and seen her first steps, her first words, and the first time she said “mama”.

The first basket can deal with items found in the Mommy Basket. The second basket ought to include items in the Dad’s Basket. Frankly, you’ll want to invite your partner’s family to the baby shower so that they can see the baby, wear that fun baby on this special day, and receive a reminder of how special they are in the new generation. We do not even know how many samples of baby clothes, diapers, toys, or accessories have been written about in parenting magazines. Take a moment to get them. Join the baby shower- I know, endless baby shower bingo when you and your partner have forgotten your baby actually exists and would love to see it.

In addition to new baby items, offer small items to thank each family member for support. Offer a thank you note in your own customized baby cards or thank each person one by one for doing something they are particularly good at.