Who are you and what do you do here at the mama ‘hood? How’d you come to this work?
Hello! My name is Nick Elio and I facilitate Bootcamp for New Dads. I got into this when I became a dad myself. While we were expecting our 1st, I took a Bootcamp class at a local hospital and really enjoyed it. Part of the program is that once you attend the class, you are invited back as a ‘Veteran Dad’ when your little one is 3-6 months old to share first hand some of your newfound expertise and wisdom. I went back a few times as a ‘veteran dad’ with my little boy and then wanted to get more involved! Ive been facilitating classes ever since.
Here at the mama ’hood we are driving the cultural shift in the care of new moms and families. Where do you think our culture lacks in support and how can we do better?
Wow, big question. I’ll speak specifically from a dads perspective.
First, most dads don’t get much time off from work or paternity leave, yet being able to be home and connect with your new baby and partner is sacred time and space that needs be cherished and valued. If we can get more dads and employers onboard that would be huge! Secondly, there is still this idea that dad is a 2nd tier parent. I just watched a movie trailer this week where the dads are basically incompetent fools when it comes to caring for the children if mom isn’t around. They get locked out of the house, they are just feeding the kids candy, its a mess. I think this is a dated and fading stereotype that needs to be challenged as more and more men are rising to the task of being great dads.
Third, Id love to see some stores called Father’hood, or something like that ;) Im kidding, and don’t get me wrong, Mom plays a HUGE role when it comes to starting a family. But the more we can continue to take the burden and expectation of raising children solely off the shoulders of mom, the better dads we will have, the healthier marriages we will have and the more well adjusted our kids will be. It takes two to tango as they say and we need to do everything we can to encourage dads to be involved.
Share a funny story/aspect of your work. We always say we encourage laughter at the mama’hood because after all sometimes this journey is pretty darn funny… Shared story that will make our mama’s smile.
Facilitating Bootcamp is a really fun gig. Aside from being really valuable time for men to chat through expectations and fears around this new season, it’s also fun to hear their hopes and dreams about becoming a dad. As far as funny stories go, a few classes ago, one of our Veteran Dads was taking the time to share the story of their labor and delivery experience. It just so happened that his little one was being pretty fussy and crying a bit while he was talking. We usually let this go on for a bit as it helps the expecting dad’s see a very real part of fatherhood, talking over a crying baby. But Dad was getting a bit distracted, had tried all of his tricks and I could see he was getting a little stressed out. In an attempt to help out and give him some time to finish his story, I offered to take his little one out of the room. I didn’t think I had any special powers or techniques that he hadn’t tried, I just wanted to give him some space. So he agreed, handed me his son and within 5 seconds of being in my arms he calmed down and fell asleep! Again, I do NOT have any special dad powers (that I am aware of) but to the guys in the room, I looked like a genuine dad magician and my ‘street cred’ went through the roof! That stuff is pretty fun when it happens :)
Can you offer a mantra to help a mama in the thick of it?
Oh man. There are so many. I think one of the most important things to do when you are in the thick of having a newborn, is to keep perspective. A lot of times, the LAST thing you feel like doing is leaving the house, or seeing friends. Everything feels really hard and daunting but once you get out of your own space and head, the world seems a whole lot bigger and brighter. That has helped us a lot. Around the house we say things like, “this too shall pass” which is one of those things that helps keep perspective. But one saying that has resonated the most is this idea of that parents feels like “the days that never end and the years that fly by” That has felt so true to us in the newborn season as days, especially hard days, seem to last forever, then some how, you are at your little’s 1st bday party wondering how you survived. This partnering thing is no joke so most importantly, go at it alone. Find some friends and community to support you and your partner in this time. And take care of your marriage/relationship, you need each other more than ever! Date nights are invaluable. You can go anything on 5 hours of sleep. People have been doing this parenting thing a LONG time, largely without electricity, You’ve got this!