As it was when we were young, having the chores done before going out to play is always beneficial. After asking other expectant fathers, I found the urge to nest occurs sooner in some males than in their pregnant female counterparts.
Guys who have their work done, their chores done, and their cars clean tend to feel more liberated. Who wouldn’t?
Hearing that you will now have to re-arrange the furniture, condense the home office or guest room, finish the bathroom or deck project that has been ongoing for several years, and baby-proof the household tends to add stress to the life of the average guy who cares about such things and wants the best for his soon-to-be family. I recommend that you start getting your house in order as soon as possible.
It is a flat ton of work. The sooner you start, the more you accomplish, little by little, the less that will need to be done when the crunch-time comes. I am not talking about anything to do with the actual baby room. You will probably have little say in that area anyway. And remember, it is prudent to wait regarding the baby’s room until the seventh month or so in case something unexpected were to happen.
I am talking about finishing off the running list of outside chores like cleaning out the gutters, trimming trees, building fences, and completing the construction projects. Unless you are wealthy, money may become too tight to afford these projects later on, and it is better to finish them early in the term to minimize any potential risk or injury to you or your mate. You don’t want to fall off a ladder and hurt your back, only to have your eight months pregnant wife help you to the hospital. The stress alone should be avoided. Likewise, it is important to remove or repair any semi-dangerous situation, such as a loose handrail on the back stairs, or an uneven brick or tile on the patio. At some point, no matter how safe you make the home, your wife will probably trip and take a header. The idea here is to minimize any and all potential risk of your wife injuring herself or the child due to something that could have been avoided.
Some simple questions you may want to ask yourself: Do you have smoke detectors? Fire extinguishers? Do they all work? Replace all batteries in the smoke detectors and have all of the fire extinguishers refilled. If renting, your landlord may pay for most of the above basic upkeep. Make a list of all the items that may need repair. Mail your landlord a nice note explaining that you are expecting a baby and that you are trying to help minimize any potential risk by providing a list of items that need to be repaired.
You may also want to ask your landlord about the paint your rental currently shows. Is it lead free?
The reason that this can be important is that a friend’s baby learned to crawl to the front window, scratch off the paint with his fingernails, and eat it, before he learned to walk! Evidently, it tastes sweet (I’ve always wondered about him, and his dad). There are new lead tester kits on the market, making it easy to identify the lead content in any painted surface.
Now is a good time to do any and all repair work to all of your vehicles, such as brakes, tune-ups, tires and the like, before the money runs out. Just wait until you see how much a little person’s dresser costs. You would think that since one-fourth of the materials were used, they would be less expensive: you would be wrong. These outside projects and chores and auto repairs should be done, if possible, in the first trimester.
In the second trimester, you will have plenty of time to work on the inside projects; however, if painting or wallpapering, be sure to check that all paints and glues are lead free and pregnancy safe. Always provide adequate airflow (open all windows and doors) and drying time. If these chores can be done while your wife is away, all the better.
It is a good time to clean out all of the closets and the garage, attic (extra careful on that ladder, Daddy-O), and basement. Have a yard sale (extra $) or make a charitable donation (tax write-off), to clear your house or apartment of the unwanted, unused stuff that seems to crawl into your closets when you are not looking. Not only can you earn a little extra cash, you can make more room for all of the accouterments that a baby necessitates. Unless you live in a 5,000 square foot home, you will need the extra closet and storage space.
NOTE: If you do have a yard sale, or a financial plan, set aside some money for a two or three day vacation during the first six months of pregnancy. While time off will be at a premium when the baby comes, a brief respite for your wife from the everyday grind, and a little break for you from all of these damn chores will be sorely needed.
Who knew it was going to be this much work for us guys? If you have accomplished half of the stuff in this chapter, and carrying the child is half of what we’ve heard that it is for the last quadrillion years, you both will deserve a break from it all. And it is best to plan this getaway while she is still mobile, and well before her delivery date.
The third trimester is home time. No heavy lifting, for either of you. Her pregnancy books will have you carrying everything, everywhere, like a wayward, simpleminded pack mule. Extra care should be employed when undertaking any and all extra strenuous, overtly dangerous events (sporting, hunting, pool room brawls: “Look, papa got no teef”). You can also help to clean all of your kitchen cupboards and kitchen drawers, defrost the refrigerator, and clean out the linen cabinets and dresser drawers. Clean and oil your tools and put them all away. You won’t be needing them for six months or so. Change all of the light bulbs, inside and out (careful on that ladder, Pops). Anything that you can do to make your household take on its cleanest and most shipshape form will reap big dividends after the child is born.
I know it seems that I am being some kind of leather-necked drill instructor here. No one can read this to-do list and not feel oppressed. What we are trying to accomplish, what we are trying to prepare for, is ninety days of NO CHORES (except cleaning and shopping). YES! There is a reward!
Remember, you will be going at it full-bore for about three months. You may only get three to six hours of sleep per night, for three or thirty-six months in a row. We all know how dangerous sleep deprivation can be. The last thing you need to be worried about is climbing a ladder with a chainsaw, or your auto breaking down on the side of the road with your pregnant wife (god forbid), or infant child. All of the above advice is intended to try and eliminate risk, and 80% of the above falls squarely upon your shoulders.
Good luck, men. Fall out, and get to it!