Especially in the early days, it can seem like being a dad is to assume the role of perpetual third wheel. You can’t nurse. You can’t magically comfort your baby. It’s not you they’re crying for in the middle of the night.
So where can a dad contribute?
Jordan Harbinger, host of The Jordan Harbinger Show and a young father himself, advises that dads “do bathtime. Mom tends to do a lot, and she does a lot us dads can’t do. If we can be the master of bathtime, mom gets a break and it’s time you’ll cherish forever. Besides, it’s pretty hard to mess up a bath as long as you’re keeping an eye on things.”
And while this is very practical and specific advice, it’s also great general advice. What can a dad do? We can look for places to contribute. For gaps to fill. For things that need to be done, but don’t need to be done by mom. We can take these opportunities and look to build them into special parts of our routine and of life. They will give us time to connect with our newborns and allow our spouse—their devoted, beleaguered mom—time off.
Maybe that’s taking a morning walk. Maybe it’s going somewhere every Saturday for several hours. None of this has to do with traditional gender roles, it simply has to do with carving out a role for yourself. It’s about making yourself useful and giving your partner a chance to breathe and rest in the process.
But most of all, as Jordan says, it’s about cherishing the opportunity to spend time together. Even if that’s garbage time. Because as we know, there is no such thing.