It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that returning to work deprives a parent of time with their child. However, despite being an aerospace engineer (admittedly not a rocket scientist!) I still haven’t been able to satisfactorily work out how to maximise Daddy-Daughter time. Satisfactorily for me that is, Little H shows no outward signs of dissatisfaction with the amount of time spent with me… 🤔!
The difference now, is that there are only so many hours of the day in which both Little H & I are awake and co-located – and for at least some of that time, Little H is attached to Mrs Heatho!
So recently I’ve been trying even harder to find some things we can do together, because I love my daughter and would do anything for her. If I can give my wife a 20 minute break – even better.
Little H isn’t ready to build LEGO “whatever we end up building”, or playing with a ball, or painting. So I’m having to put effort into doing some of the simple things she does do. The most simple one is as a result of us combination feeding. Regardless of what you’re told, not everyone can exclusively breastfeed, so we’re having to top up with formula to make sure Little H is putting on weight. This has its bonuses for me – which are that I get to feed my daughter!
I know, it’s hardly earth-shattering news for most… but it helps me feel as though I’m involved & helping – and helps me bond with her. She always seems to be looking up at me and making eye contact while she is feeding. Whilst Mrs Heatho probably doesn’t agree – I really like the fact Little H stays wide awake while she’s having a bottle! It means I can interact with her, rather than feeding a semi-asleep baby.
Bath time is a great opportunity. I was really nervous at first, letting Mrs Heatho do most of the bathing and while I stood ready to help… by holding a towel?! Really?! Even now I can’t honestly tell you why. I get nervous of things I haven’t done before, especially when there are living things involved and it’s even worse when that thing is the most precious person in the world. This week I’ve put on my big boy pants and got on with it. It is of course, absolutely fine. Little H loves the bath! She will lie there on her little bath support super-comfy beaming up at me from the amongst the (baby friendly and calming) bubbles 🙂.
Tummy time is another win for me. I’ve always been self-conscious about being an idiot – worrying what people think of me etc. Silly I know. Now I’m a Dad I’m having to learn that it just doesn’t matter – if my daughter interacts with me it’s entirely worth it. That started with me insisting on making a snowman despite a distinct lack of snow and has continued with tummy time. Just for 10-15 minutes in the evening I lie down on the floor and play with Little H on her play-mat.
It’s good for them to learn to clear their airway etc. I was so surprised how quickly she was able to not only lift her head and turn to one side – but go back and forth from one side to the next! At less than 5 weeks old! I was so proud of her! She hasn’t exactly split the atom, but my little girl is learning and getting stronger and there it was manifesting itself physically in front of me! I videoed it like an excitable tourist to show Mrs Heatho – only to find out that this wasn’t the first time.
That’s when I realised that if I’m not careful I won’t be like an excitable tourist – I will be a tourist in my daughter’s life, just popping into it for a few hours each evening and then disappearing from it until the next day…
So. More effort required on my part to spend time with Little H; full steam ahead for bottle/bath/tummy/story time. I also need to be much more demanding in terms of making sure I get my fair share of cuddles 🙂 Something tells me that the extra effort will be worth it.