Some of these tips are for new parents, and some of them we’ll just have to tuck in our back pocket for down the road. Regardless, my hope is that you’ll find a nugget or two to take with you.
Treat your spouse like she has a life threatening disease. Protect her rest and serve as the gatekeeper. People visiting the house during those two weeks is exhausting. Tell your friends ahead of time you’ll let them know when you’re ready for people to come over. They’ll want to be helpful and come hang out but it’ll be too much for a while.
Put baby on a schedule. Your sanity is important.
Let their childhood last as long as possible. Some burdens are too heavy for children. There are topics and conversations they aren’t ready to handle or shouldn’t have to until they’re older. Carry those loads for them until the time is right.
Don’t discipline out of anger. There are going to be times when your temper gets the best of you, but don’t let that be the norm. It's’ better to let something go, than to react out of anger in the moment.
Get a date night without baby as soon as possible. It will be easy for both new parents to get cabin fever and feel isolated. Getting out of the house helps provide relief. Also good to learn to leave baby early on. Gets harder the longer you go without leaving them.
Prioritize sleep. Sleep is scarce, get it when you can.
Have Dinner Together - “Families who eat dinner together,” Duhigg said, “seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence. Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget. It’s not that a family meal or a tidy bed causes better grades or less frivolous spending. But somehow those initial shifts start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.”
You (dad) are not there to serve the baby, you’re there to serve the mom. Mom will be intently focused upon the needs and well being of the baby. The best way to love your child then, is to love your bride well. Look for ways to take as much pressure and distractions off your wife’s plate as possible. Make sure she is comfortable, refill her water, pray for her, do the laundry; these are all ways you can show her your love and serve her well.
Our work is not to distract us from our children, our work is to provide for our children. Work is important because it makes so many of the other things we are responsible to do for and with our children possible. It puts food on the table and gas in the tank, but it can also become a distraction. Parents must fight hard to ensure that it doesn’t. Go home and spend time physically, emotionally and in all other ways present with your kiddos. Work is something we do for our children, but it shouldn’t keep us from them.
The goal of parenting is not control of behavior, but rather heart and life change. “As a parent,” Paul Tripp said, “you have been called to something more foundational than the control of the behavior of the children that God has entrusted to your care.” So much of the parenting advice well meaning parents give revolves around behavioral control. That’s always struck me as strange. If what I understand about Christ and the gospel is true, then we are after something far bigger than behavior modification—not just with our kids, but with everyone in our lives. Changing how they act is down river from the heart, just as politics is down river of culture. Don’t get me wrong, we are responsible for helping shape their behavior, that’s just not the most important thing on our to do list.