Making it an Adventure Article

Settling In for the Long Term










At three-four months, the fun really starts. Your baby is no longer a fragile, demanding stranger; you've weathered the initial storm and now he is a part of your life. Bonds and affection are interlacing your new family together.

You may wake up to his smiles, miss him at work and can't wait to see him when you get home. You're starting to see the amazing growth he is going through during this first year.

Soon he will start babbling, a big step towards talking, and then he will reach for and try to use objects, especially the remote control.

Remember your boring friends from your previous life who could only talk about their babies? Actually, your baby is brighter, cuter, and much smarter than all those other babies.

Just in case you have to talk to someone who does not appreciate the most wonderful creation on the planet, periodically glance at the newspaper to see what sports are in season.

Your Baby Returns the Favor
You have been taking care of her, and now it's time she returned the favor. And she will if you let her. We live a fast paced life, one that seems to get faster every day. Multitasking, doing and thinking of everything all at once is a fact of life.

Our minds and bodies are racing constantly just to keep up with our jobs and responsibilities, and it's difficult to slow down. It's called the rat race.

Babies demand that we take another look at this imposed frenzy of activity. They bring us back to a more simple way of living, to a life where long minutes are spent staring at a brightly colored toy, or delighting in the repetition of a sound or a song, or lingering before a flower bush, or having a lazy walk without any special place to go, stopping to have a chat with a neighbor.

Savor the time, talk to him, get down on the floor with him and see what he sees. When you relax, think of things to do with him.

Your child is asking you to really be there with him, to see the world unfolding through his tiny eyes and to be as fascinated by it as he is. In some ways it is like you get to do childhood all over again. Sure beats the rat race.

Tuning in to Your Child
The greatest rewards, both for dads and their children, come from tuning in, even at this young age, and getting to know them. This acquired skill, accompanied by increased patience, essentially requires paying attention.

Start by getting to know your baby's moods, likes and dislikes. This is how the real connection between a father and child is built. Start the habit now and you'll always be glad you did.

Creative Solutions

"Adversity is the mother of invention." Whoever said this was likely a father of a cranky baby. A creative approach might be to tape record the vacuum cleaner and play it to put your baby to sleep.

Arrange for a portable bed or jerry-rig one so you can go to an afternoon barbeque at the park without messing up his sleep schedule. Spending five minutes in your car listening to rock 'n roll before you walk into the house might be an efficient way to de-stress after work.
 
When You Spend a Lot of Time Away From Home
Spending time away from your little one can be tough, especially when you're talking a week or even a month at a time. Travel for long periods, as for military personnel, can be depressing.

It's important to stay focused on why we work in the first place - to provide for our families. It is also important to remain as involved with your child as possible, even if it has to be in a minimal way. Suggestions:

  • With little time at home, play with your baby before you leave in the morning and just after you get home. Many dads report that their babies sleep longer if they play with them at night.
  • Keep his picture where you see it often, and keep him in mind while you're on the road.
  • Call mom often and get the lowdown on junior's antics and accomplishments for the day.
  • Enlist mom, who can send you pictures and recordings and hold the phone to your baby's ear so you can talk to him, or show him his daddy on the cell phone picture.

Recently a young father deployed to Iraq tape recorded a dozen nursery rhymes that his wife plays for their baby so that he will recognize dad's voice when he gets back home.

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