I see plenty of advice saying that mums need to remember to look after themselves during the postpartum period. But what about us dads?
Now, I’m not for one minute suggesting that mums don’t need to take care of themselves or that dads have had it as tough as mums. Anatomy means that they’ve either pushed the equivalent of a watermelon through a needle or had to undergo surgery to free the little one. Us dads haven’t.
However, a new baby has an impact on both parents in different ways. And, as such, it’s important for both mums and dads to keep an eye on themselves rather than focusing solely on the baby. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of the rest of the family?
At the time of writing, ‘Beetle’ is just over four months old. With that, technically, he is no longer a newborn baby. Although it’s still bloody tough, it does mean that things are getting easier. Life is starting to return to normal. The newborn haze is fading.
With that, I’ve started to realise that I’ve not really taken care of myself over the last four months. My focus has been on the rest of the family – continuing to be the stay-at-home parent to L, whilst doing my bit to care for our new addition and to support the missus.
So, now that we’ve somehow got through that newborn phase, it’s time to focus on myself a bit. Here’s four of the ways I’m planning on taking care of myself:
1) Focusing On Personal Grooming
I’ll be the first to admit that my personal grooming and hygiene probably isn’t where it should be. As I write this, I haven’t yet got around to putting on deodorant or brushing my teeth despite the fact that it’s 2.44pm. I’m also not sure if I showered yesterday or the day before…
I find that this is one of the problems associated with being at home a lot – prior to becoming a stay-at-home parent who also works at home, I had to make an effort as I went to work. Now though, I can be that bit lazier because there’s not the same repercussions – L can’t sack me from being her dad because I’ve not had my hair cut for four months. She may try, but it won’t hold up in court.
When you throw a newborn into the mix, focusing on my looks is way down on the list. Not only do I not have the time or energy to care, but what’s the point in ‘doing my hair’ when there’s a high probability that it’s going to be dribbled or puked on at some point?
Now things are getting slightly easier as he gets older, I want to make more of an effort. Let’s take my face, for instance. I don’t have a beard for aesthetic purposes – it’s more the result of laziness. My beard annoys me most of the time, but as it means I don’t have to shave, it’s one less thing for me to think about.
However, I’m well aware that it makes me look scruffy and untidy, particularly when it reaches a certain length and the neck beard grows back. As such, I’ve recently teamed up with Dollar Shave Club to try out some of the grooming products, including the 6-blade Executive razor and Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter – so far, I’m very impressed.
I’ve not only got rid of the beard completely, but I’ve also kept up with shaving (nearly) daily – something I’ve not done in years. Not only does this make me feel better and look less scruffy, but it’s taken a few years off me too – I’ll be getting ID’d next! You can read more about my experience of the Dollar Shave Club at the bottom of this post, plus check out the Classic Shave Starter Set I used here.
2) Eating Better
On the whole, I don’t eat too badly. The majority of our meals are cooked from scratch and contain plenty of vegetables. I certainly eat a lot better than I did ten or so years ago, however I know that standards in the kitchen have slipped recently – again, in part because of the impact of having a new baby.
With a newborn, there’s a tendency to go more for convenience when it comes to food. It’s much easier to stick something frozen in the oven and get back to baby duties rather than trying to juggle it all – you’re asking for trouble if you’re trying to rock a screaming baby to sleep as you chop an onion.
Eating becomes something you have to do in order to survive, rather than something you take pleasure in. I can count on one hand how many meals we’ve had over the last few months which haven’t involved either (a) wolfing my food down so that I can take the baby off the missus so she can eat, or (b) consuming half cold food with one hand as the other hand is trying to soothe the little one.
But, things are getting better as the little one becomes more predictable and settles into a routine. Through a combination of prepping food in advance, for instance, chopping vegetables and freezing them, and by making more use of the slow cooker, our meals are returning to normal. We can then time meals with a nap to allow us to eat them relatively stress-free.
Not only that, but I’ve also been doing two other things which have got to help with what goes into my body. Firstly, I’ve cut back on sugar in coffee – I used to have 1.5 spoonfuls but now have none. Secondly, I’ve finally persuaded the missus to stop buying chocolate – I’m addicted to the stuff and will eat it all when it’s in the house, so really need it to not be around. I don’t like Bounty or Fruit & Nut, so she’s allows to buy them still!
Me: “Please stop buying chocolate. I can’t control myself and I eat it all.”
Also me: “Why haven’t you bought any chocolate?”
— The DADventurer (Dave) (@The_dadventurer) September 7, 2017
3) Exercising More
It’s no secret that I’m not in the shape I once was – all you have to do is look at me! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I was ever in a position to stick on some budgie-smugglers and fake tan to flex my muscles on the body building stage. I did use to be lean though – and if you looked hard (like, really heard), you may have spotted a tiny bit of definition.
Not these days though. Unfortunately, everything is that bit more rounded and doughy. The reason is simple – I just don’t exercise anywhere near as much as I used to. It’d be easy to blame the fact that I have kids – and although that is a huge influence – I only have myself to blame. However, I will use them as a bit of an excuse…
Since our little lad came into the world, the tiny bit of exercise I did do has diminished even more. With newborns, there is no routine. 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, for the first few months, you have no identifiable window where you can do anything structured.
If, by some miracle, you manage to find a 45 minute window, the last thing you feel like doing is throwing on your shorts and doing some exercise when you’re sleep deprived and devoid of energy. Sitting on the sofa in front of the TV is a much more appealing scenario.
But, try you must. Now that ‘Beetle’ is three months old and his routine is getting a little more structured, I’m forcing myself to exercise more. This doesn’t mean two hour sessions down at the gym, but more trying to do something where I can.
So far, that’s included going out for a longer walk with the dog, a few 20 minute HIIT sessions and push-ups / sit-ups before bed and when I get up in the morning. It’s not going to transform my bod, but it’s definitely going to help.
4) Updating The Wardrobe
The above three points should get me feeling and looking better – but what’s the point if I cover it in old clothes? I’m no fashionista, nor do I wish to become one. But, I am massively aware that I don’t dress that ‘well’. I’m OK with that, but as a now 33-year old, I wonder if I should make more of an effort rather than dress as I did when I was 20.
My style – if you can call it that – is pretty relaxed. I’m more Converse than boat shoes, jeans over chinos and prefer a hoodie to a blazer. I’m never going to be one of those preppy-looking people, however, it can’t harm to make a bit more effort.
Again, this is party down to being at home a lot – my attitude has always been ‘what’s the point in getting dressed up if I’m not going out today’. To illustrate that point, the missus dropped L off at nursery today, so I’ve had no need to leave the house and am writing this whilst wearing pyjama bottoms.
It’s not necessarily that I need to change my ‘style’. I just probably need to sort out the old stuff that is past its best and replace it with some new. Let me give you an example. As it’s been hot recently, I rummaged through my drawers to find my trusty grey vest. It fits perfectly, but on working it out, it turns out that I’ve owned it for 11 years. 11!
This also goes for things that don’t quite fit me anymore. No matter how much I exercise or how better I eat, there’s no way those 30″ waist trousers are fitting ever again. Similarly, it’s time to admit that the XS t-shirts I own don’t do much to flatter when they cling in the wrong places – I’m more of a S guy these days.
It’s only bloody happened again. The washing machine has shrunk the jeans I’ve not worn in a few months. I’m getting sick of my clothes not fitting me. Shoddy washing machine. It’s not like I’ve put on weight or anything…oh…hang on…as you were…
— The DADventurer (Dave) (@The_dadventurer) May 1, 2018
I’ve already started clearing out some of the clothes that don’t fit, I don’t wear or are pretty old. The plan will then be to buy some new stuff to update my wardrobe as and when. Who knows, I might even try some boat shoes, chinos and a blazer – before quickly putting them back on the shelf.
Dollar Shave Club
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve recently joined the Dollar Shave Club – this is basically a subscription based male grooming brand where you can get razors, blades and other products sent to you on a regular basis.
I was sent The Classic Shave Starter Set to try out, which included a 6-blade executive razor, an 86g tube of Shave Butter and four replacement cartridges – You can get this kit, which is usually worth £12, for just £5 by using the link dollarshaveclub.com/dadventurer. Alongside this, I also received their Immaculate Shave Trial Kit which included Dr. Carver’s Mandatory Prep Scrub, Easy Shave Butter and Disappearing Post Shave Dew.
Having used these products for the last few week, I’m very impressed. Not only do the packaging and products look aesthetically pleasing, but the actual shave has been really good – both when doing my neck and cheeks when I had a beard and now with a clean, shaven face.
I’ve enjoyed using the Scrub, Butter and Dew as part of my shaving routine and have felt that my skin is softer and less ‘rashy’ as a result. I’ve also been impressed with the razor – it’s very sharp and actually removed my full beard without too much effort. However, despite being sharp, I’m yet to nick my face at all – something I regularly used to do.
There’s a definite appeal for me about the subscription service – getting good products sent to your door on a regular schedule to meet my needs bets having to remember to order new razors. As such, it’s very convenient and is actually less expensive than competitors – 40% less than Gilette’s Mach 3, in fact.
Sound good? Head over to dollarshaveclub.com/dadventurer to get The Classic Shave Starter Set, which is usually worth £12, for just £5. Remember to accept cookies so I know you signed up through my link.
So those are four ways I’m currently trying to take care of myself now we’ve got through the newborn stage. Does this sound familiar? How did you ensure you look after yourself after having kids? Let me know below!
Disclosure: This is a commissioned post in collaboration with Dollar Shave Club.