Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

New Dad . . .harder than I would have thought

Community Member


I am a new Dad (6month old baby). My wife does most of the heavy lifting in terms of looking after the baby while she is on maternity leave, but for some reason I still feel overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted and so on. I try and help out as much as I can. Our baby is a treasure but I seem to be constantly struggle.

Since she was born I had to put down my cat who died in my arms and that tore me up and then wanting to be always around I have given up all exercise which used to be important to me. My wife is very critical of me so much of the time, but with good reason, she is exhausted and worried about returning to work and the load she is carrying.

Maybe it is also the state of the world at the moment but I have sensed my anxiety taking hold and my thoughts getting darker every week or so and whether it is my time, because I don’t feel like the great Dad I aspire to be, but then I look at the baby and I am right again. I have also thrown myself into work, likely as a distraction which I gather is pretty common, but it feels like it is all I do and defining me and just feeding more anxiety.

I am trying to make a plan to make some changes based on some of the things I have been reading here from other peoples experiences, but the big thing is I don’t know whether to just start making changes to things like work and hope it starts to right things. Or if I should talk to my wife first. . . .I don’t want to add to her stress at all and fear I might in talking about it hence I am thinking to try changing the path a bit without talking. Finding time for exercise is the big one that I can’t do without talking to her.

Take care,

6 Replies 6

Hi Skywatcher!

Thank you for such a brave and honest post in our community. Regardless or Role (Dad or Mum) is one VERY eye-opening life experience. It can be crucial to acknowledge that there is no illegitimate experience in this situation - It is very much the case that your wife is probably experiencing greater fatigue and physical demands, but your life has also undergone a massive change: new noises, responsibilities, anxieties around safety for them, and more. That sad, we wan't to honour the lovely awareness of the needs of your wife, why the emotions are harder for her and the moment, and the demands on her strength at this time. it is wonderful to read how hard you are trying to be with her in this space. It IS challenging though, and we recognise the sacrifices you have made in staying consistent during a time of grieving for your pet, and adapting to this amazing, beautiful, but consuming challenge. 

We would like to mention our friends at Mensline, who you can view here: www.mensline.org.au and call on 1300 78 99 78. Fatherhood is a topic they tackle often, and with good reason!  If you are based in QLD or the NT, please consider contacting Parentline as well! https://www.parentline.com.au/

Also, do not hesitate to talk to your GP around this, and as always, please feel free to reachout to us, anytime 24/7. 1300 22 4636

Thank you so much, again, for such an important post - I have no doubt many of your peers will be wanting to reach out and help very soon!

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Skywatcher.

thanks for opening up.

being a new dad is a very scary thing, i wont sugar coat that. You have this gorgeous and helpless little thing that you are now responsible for. Any anxieties you are having about it are completely valid.

But on the other hand, being a father or a parent in general is an absolutely wonderful thing, full of amazing experiences. I didnt have a father around growing up, so i didnt know what kind of a father id be or even how to be one, but so far i think we’re doing ok.

there is a lot you will learn along the way. It cod be from something you see someone else do, could be from a conversation, could be from reflection, or from instinct. The fact is that nobody has all of the parenting answers.

Share the load as much as possible. I had to change my ways to fit the new normal, which benefitted everyone.

you mentioned that you had given up on the exercise, but one of the best things you can do is go for a walk pushing your newborn. With your wife and baby, go for a nice relaxing stroll, or if your wife wants to relax, you and the baby can go. If you can find 10 or 15 minutes, walk.

try not to get too stuck into your work. I know it sounds good to keep busy, but it takes time, very precious time, away from your family. It was a mistake i made for a little while, but i soon learned that i was missing out on some amazing things.

If there is anything you are concerned about, talk it over with your wife, and come up with a plan together.

i hope that gives you some help for the things going on right now, and that things start settling into a routine. Don't be afraid to ask any more questions, because we all need help from time to time.

Not Batman

Mark Z.
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Skywatcher,

I hear you and I understand you! I can tell that you love your wife and baby so much and really want to take a good father's responsibilities.

I do have some experience to share.

1. Equip yourself with knowledge. Sometimes anxiety is because of lack of certain knowledge of raising a child. For example, when you find out that your child has temprature and some other symptoms you may become super anxious. If you're knowledgable, you'll have more confidence to deal with. Those knowledge can be acquired from your parents, your experienced neighbours or siblings, a book or an app (e.g. MCH). You can also ring MCH or nurse on call 24/7 when you have questions about your baby, or ring Beyondblue hotline when you yourself feel burnout.

2. You do need to talk to your wife, but you need to be a good observer first. As you said, your wife has her challenge, not to mention that some women have postpartum depression. Find a right timing, when your wife has a good mood, is very important. If you're not under big financial pressure, maybe both of you need to redesign your work-life balance for a period. For example, think about adjusting to part-time job temporarily, and stagger your time from your wife's.

3. You're right that you need to keep some time for yourself, for example for exercise. Think about seeking help from your family, or consider childcare (already available for 6 month baby). You and your wife must be sustainable.

Hope it helps a bit. You'll be fine.


Learn to Fly
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Skywatcher,

Welcome and thank you for sharing. This is a very important topic and missed by many.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, can prepare you for the arrival of the first child. Everyone can tell you their stories but unless you go through the experience, you can only imagine you know what it means. I am not undermining anybody’s genuine willingness to understand. Just stating the fact.

It’s so great to hear you have been helping your wife as much as possible. I have no doubts you have plenty of wonderful and very rewarding moments with your beautiful baby but a lot of times I am sure this is just hard, hard work.
How would you feel about talking to your wife and asking her what would she like to do or she misses a lot? Maybe the two of you could work out some “shifts” so she could look after the baby when you do your exercises, as they seem to be very important to you. And then you could do the same for her. Or even take the pram and do any exercise you can think of while going for a walk with the baby. If the baby is old enough you can carry her in the baby carrier and have some extra weight (thanks to the baby). I am sure you could think of some other ways. What do you think?
It’s just exercise seems to be so important to you and it’s good to try to fit even a tiny bit of your old self to stay afloat and be a better parent as a result.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Skywatcher, being a new dad can be a pleasant surprise or a wish come true, but it can be hard work, may be something you hadn't expected and it's still possible that the dad can develop PND, as I did myself, although my wife did with our second baby.

If you believe you may be suffering from this then it's going to affect you in any way possible, although I'm not a doctor to say, but try talking to your wife as it may explain reasons why you aren't capable of doing more.

It's in her interests to know, as it is with your work, who may allow you to have some counselling and relax your working hours.

Remember, as thrilled as you may be, you may have an illness that's stopping you from helping and dedicating your time with you, your wife and the baby.

Back when I had it, those days weren't recognised for the dad to have counselling, only the mum, but now it's all different, so please start off by visiting your doctor and please let us know.


Community Member
Hi there! I just discovered Parents You've Got This, and they are incredibly helpful for parents.