Having a new baby will definitely keep you on your toes. With a whole new little human to look after, you’ll probably have a lot less free time. Of course, baby will come first but it’s important to look after your own health and well-being at the same time. With 1 in 10 new dads suffering from mental health issues, it’s clear that dads are so important too and sometimes just need a little bit of time to focus on themselves.
#DadLife can be unpredictable, and it can be difficult to stick to a routine. We’ve put together a list of things that you might be able to implement into your daily life without too much hassle!
Meal prep before baby comes and keep that habit up
Batch cooking is going to become your friend. It’s great to start doing this and freezing meals before baby comes so that you’ve got things to eat for the first few weeks of baby settling in and mum recovering. This is also a great thing to do if you can find a spare few hours – cook up a big chilli, soup or lasagne to make sure you’ve got something hearty to eat when you don’t have time to cook.
Try a low-maintenance diet
Now probably isn’t the time to start doing keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, etc. Things like this might be able to help, but they also take a lot of planning, counting, tracking and prepping – time that you probably won’t have as a new dad. Instead, focusing on a simple diet that’s full of nutritious foods (plenty of protein and veg) should see you through those long nights and sleepy days.
Don’t rely on the gym
Of course, you might still be able to find time to go to the gym, but with your new responsibilities you might need to swap your normal barbells for bedtime stories, pull-up bar for Pampers, gym bag for changing bag (you get where we’re going with this).
This doesn’t mean you have to miss out on exercise! Short bursts of exercise may be best for a busy new dad, so try looking for some short workout videos you can do, save these to your faves and try to fit them in as and when you can. You might also want to treat yourself to some home workout equipment – bring the gym home and workout when you can (plus cut out the journey time to the gym).
See this as a fresh start and ditch those bad habits
Having a baby is going to bring huge changes to your life, and you could see this as a brand new beginning. Things like smoking are obviously super bad to do around baby, so seeing your bundle of joy might be the right push towards quitting. And if you drink often, this might automatically be reduced just from the fact that you’ll be out with your mates less (although don’t feel guilty for enjoying a night out, of course!).
Start some simple good habits
Although this might not be the time to start a new diet or exercise trend, there are some little things you can do to boost your energy and hopefully, over time, improve your health.
- Get yourself a good water bottle to make sure you’re staying hydrated, and stash it in the changing bag when you go out. Although 2 litres a day is recommended, it actually depends on your weight, age and other factors, so could be more like 3 litres – you can check it using this calculator.
- Try skipping salt at meal times. This simple thing can help lower blood pressure, amongst a load of other things.
- Try some food swaps: sugary drinks for water or tea, white bread and pasta for whole grains, crisps and biscuits for nuts and fruit, etc.
- Take baby out for a walk. This might help soothe baby off to sleep and can give mum a bit of a rest while you get your steps in. Win win!
Focus on your mental health too
So far, we’ve only spoken about physical health, but mental health is just as important. It’s understandable that the mental health of so many new parents suffers, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Some things to look out for include:
- Excessive worrying, fear or low mood
- Extreme mood changes
- Problems concentrating
- Avoiding friends and social events
- Loss of appetite or increased hunger
- Difficulty perceiving reality
- Abuse of substances
- Suicidal thoughts
- Inability to carry out normal activities
Of course, as a new tired parent it might be difficult to tell if some of these are mental health problems or you’re just adjusting to parenting, but you know your body and your mind. If it doesn’t feel right, it might be time to reach out. Try talking to your partner, doctor, or there are other services that can help. You’re not alone!
Remember that you’re a role model now
This might be the first time in your life that you’ve got a little human looking up at you, copying your every move and being their total inspiration. You might think this doesn’t matter until they’re older but babies’ brains develop fast, and they start taking in the world around them from a very young age. They learn to differentiate between emotional expressions as early as the first six months! So before you know it, you’ll have your very own mini-me – what habits do you want them to pick up from you?
Parenting can be absolutely beautiful, but it can also be tough. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off your diet or workout routine. You’re doing such a great job, super dad!