Many couples find that, after they have children, it is easy to fall into gender stereotypes. Even when, before becoming a family, they were in an equal partnership and supportive of both careers, when the baby comes it is very easy to start thinking in terms of ‘bread-winner’ and ‘stay at home parent.’
Nature has a part to play in this. Women, by default, take on the lion’s share of responsibility when it comes to nurturing – firstly, by carrying the baby for nine months, then labor, birth and breastfeeding. In fact, it is not uncommon for men to feel rather left out and looking for a role, so new dads often see work as their way of ‘doing something’, focusing their attention on bringing in as much money as possible, and subsequently missing out on lots of bonding opportunities with their newborn.
Not so long ago, dads were seen as the provider for the family – and keeping the family afloat financially is still a big worry for most men. But children benefit hugely if they have input from both parents. Mums and dads tend to interact with babies and children in different ways. Dads will often be more playful and promote physical activities, encouraging independence and achievement. Mums can often be more nurturing and protective.
Establish boundaries with work early on and your employer should soon adjust; if you used to regularly work late, then you might make an effort to leave on time. Babies and children love routine – knowing you will be home for bath time, for example, will help them to feel secure and loved.
You should also take time for yourself. A few minutes can be enough. Taking a break may mean being very active, doing an activity that you’re good at and which achieves something boosts your self-esteem. Or, it may mean not doing very much at all. It can be good to have an interest where you’re not seen as someone’s dad, partner or employee. You’re just you.