Why everybody needs a post-baby outlet

By Published On: July 5th, 2011

Written by: Mindy July 05 2011 Last Monday, I talked […]

Written by: Mindy

Last Monday, I talked about the importance of savoring time with your baby … but that you can’t do it all the time without going crazy. Well, I stick to that—and I think it’s true for dads as well.

Chloe is now eight weeks old. We’ve had a lovely time with her so far. Our sleeplessness has been bearable, she barely cries, and nobody has accidentally dropped her. Despite our smooth sailing, I noticed my husband, Cam, was starting to get cranky.

Let me tell you a little bit about Cam: he’s easy-going, humorously sarcastic, likes to laugh, and does an excellent job of spoiling me. He’s also very athletic and usually plays in a couple of sports leagues each year—hockey, baseball, you name it. When I got pregnant with Chloe, Cam had already been planning to participate in a triathlon (this was last October). He went through with it (loved it), and then bowed out of a lot of his usual activities to do more around the house, especially as super-pregnant-me got less mobile.

Now that Chloe is here and I’m feeling pretty sprightly (thank you, placenta pills!), Cam seems to be getting the bug to do something again. He broached the idea of training for another triathlon—a half-Ironman—but we agreed that would be too much of a time-strain. It would mean he’d train virtually every day, sometimes for three hours at a time. That, on top of his full-time job, helping to care for our two tots, and making sure I get time in to do my own work sounded like just too much.

We bunked the idea, but he continued to seem a little on edge. Then it occurred to me—I’d pretty much vetoed all his outlets. Cam is great about spending time with me and the family. He doesn’t spend evenings in front of the TV, rarely goes out for beers with his buddies, and never turns on the PS3 anymore. That means all his time is spent either at work or with our family. Not bad things, since he enjoys his job and (I think) enjoys his family. But neither of those things are particularly goal-oriented or motivating—nor do they serve as an outlet.

I, on the other hand, have a daily outlet—my writing. It’s both goal-oriented (since I regularly aim to hit certain income brackets and land specific clients), and it’s extremely self-satisfying. Getting a little writing in here and there keeps my cranky-button dialed down.

Because of this, I re-broached the triathlon idea last week. Cam instantly lit up. He’d come up with training plans and potential schedules by that evening. When we decided he should go through with it, his entire mood instantly changed. It’s only been a week now and he’s already more energetic, perky, and eager to spoil me—all side-effects I can get on board with!

I guess it comes down to acknowledging that everybody not only needs a little time away from a newborn baby, but that it’s also best to do it in a way that fires up your spirit and gives you a goal to work toward. Probably not bad habits to cultivate as your baby grows and learns from you.