First-Time Fatherhood During COVID: Trev Shares His Thoughts
Life after COVID will never be the same. We are still in it right now, searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. At first, it was the shock of it all, then it was the potential implications, and the rabbit holes we all went down, the infamous “what-if” scenarios of running out of food and/or electricity, or worse. Then the realization that, no, this wasn’t going to end in the fall, and that we might have another summer come and go before we get out of it. Then there was the hope of the vaccines, but the drawn-out process of distributing them and wait-a-second, now there are multiple strands, and new questions popping up. It is the lingering boulder on our shoulders that is simply still here that can leave its mark on our mental health.
When I think about life before and after COVID; I think about our daughter Savannah, I think about changing employers, I think about working from home for the first time, I think about Alex transitioning to a SAHM and taking care of our family, I think about not seeing family during the holidays, I think about not seeing my friends hardly at all.
The absolute biggest change for me was becoming a father and the dramatic change in my daily life. Obviously, that was going to happen with or without COVID, but I believe this pandemic indirectly impacting basically every other aspect of my life has in turn played a role in my experience as a father. I have been trying to share a blog post every other week as a content creator and part of The Fox and The Bee team, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts and feelings. I would like to have a little fun and discuss some positive things. I’d like to share a little on my experience working from home and spending what I believe to be more time with my daughter than I would have been able to do and certainly more time with my wife. Let’s take a look at what being a first-time father as been like during a pandemic.
We do have empathy for everyone’s situation
I want to first say that there are a lot of people who have experienced life altering negative consequences of COVID, and I am sure there are some that get upset even thinking about the idea of this pandemic having anything positive come out of it. I know people are afraid. People are isolated. People have lost family members and friends. People have lost their jobs or been forced to make hard choices just to get by until this is all behind us. I want to say all that to say I am empathic to those experiencing hard times. This post is not meant to take anything away from someone who has suffered. I simply want to express my experience and share some personal thoughts on how my life has been affected. Alex and I certainly have experienced some challenges as well, but we have been blessed thus far and been able to get through it. If you are dealing with something and would like someone to listen, please reach out to us.
Balancing work and home life
Those that know me really well, know that I “work-to-live,” and not the other way around. It isn’t that I don’t work “a lot,” as far as number of hours in the day go. I did some work in the fields, detasseling and pollinating corn, at the age of 13 & 14. Then I worked all throughout high school and worked several jobs in the service and financial industry during college and ever since. Until the last couple years, I basically worked two jobs and for some of that time I was a full-time student. So again, it’s not that I mind working at all, it is that I firmly believe in having work-life balance and I certainly get excited about the wonder of living life and experiencing each and every day. Now, I work from home full time.
Let’s talk about Alex’s experience really quick. Alex had taken a prerequisite class so that she could work on getting a teaching certificate and she was substitute teaching and working at her service industry job. Then Savannah was born and there was the maternity leave period. Then the very week she was going to return to work, we get COVID, and she can’t go back to work. Long story short, we made a decision for Alex to be a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM).
Now that I work from home and Alex is a SAHM, we see each other all day every day! I get to see Savannah all day too. I was having a conversation with someone at work today who told me his children are in middle school and for several years he would go to work in the morning and get home around 6:30 PM. He would get an hour or so with his kids and then it was their bedtime. I know not every Dad would want to stay at home with their kids all day every day. I hear all the time that after a while they would have to get out of the house and see their coworkers. I can understand that, but that isn’t me. I do miss interacting with people in person too, but for me, working from home and spending all that extra time with Savannah is priceless. It has been possible for me to be flexible at work so I can watch Savannah while Alex runs an errand like getting her oil changed or whatever, and then hop back on in the evening and get a little extra work done. Every day is different for me at work and obviously every day with a newborn is different.
Back to Alex for a moment, getting to see Alex orchestrate our house and family right from my work-from-home office has been a big eye opener as well. Moms certainly do not get enough credit. Speaking just for myself, I am not great at multi-tasking. Luckily for me, Alex is. Alex is giving Savannah amazing care while at the same time doing a million other things. I think being at home and seeing everything firsthand has given me a different perspective than if I had been away all day. Alex simply does things that I could not do.
Of course, Alex and I did have some disagreements along the way. We have heard from a few friends that are in a very similar situation where maybe both people are working from home and all of a sudden you are around your significant other all day long instead of meeting them at home after a long day at work. When you get home from work you can sort of decompress with your spouse about your day. When you work from home together, you might be frustrated with your spouse, and then there is no where else to go. We laugh about all of this now, but that was an adjustment for sure. When someone really needs and extra hand and your spouse (me) walks down to grab something from the fridge, it can seem like a good opportunity to ask for help. Of course, your spouse (me) may just be popping down to the fridge for a quick snack and then right back into a work meeting!
It has been nine months and the three of us basically have this operation down to a science and I wouldn’t change a thing. I would however love to have quarantine over with so that we could see our friends and family more often.
Quarantining and having a newborn
With that I will briefly transition to the frustration of having to quarantine with your newborn. I won’t say too much on this because I have written blog posts on this in the past. I just want to say that it is sad and can be hard at times. I have had strong relationships my entire life with my grandparents. I want Savannah to have those as well. She has been able to see her grandparents a fair amount, but she really has not seen her great grandparents that much. She’s also got a lot of uncles and aunts, great uncles and great aunts, and countless cousins. Some people have never met her, and she turned one year old last month. As a new parent, I would really like to start building relationships with some of our friends that are have kids and we haven’t been able to see them as much as I would like because of the virus. I could go on and on with examples, but the gist is that Savannah has missed out on some things and Alex and I have missed out on some things and it is frustrating. Like I said before if that is the worse of it then we are grateful.
Fatherhood and how it has changed my daily life
My daily life before and after Savannah. Well, my daily life has certainly looked different over the years. If someone were to pull out different pockets in time and compare them, they would probably be shocked. Maybe everyone feels that way. For this post I will just focus on the previous year before Savannah until now.
Alex and I lived in an apartment in the Haymarket, which is the downtown district of Lincoln, NE. Alex didn’t drive yet! We parked several blocks away from home. It was always fun to carry our grocery bags a couple blocks then take them in an elevator to the fifth floor. My hands would have a crease in them by the time I got to the door because we desperately tried to carry everything in one trip. Living downtown made it pretty easy to go out a lot. Alex would work a double on Fridays so I liked to meet her at her at Bisonwitches right as she was getting off work then we would head out. Spending time with friends was an every weekend thing.
I worked at the office, so I got up early enough to get to work and then had rush hour traffic on the way home. Parking in the Haymarket after work around 5:00 PM was a nightmare. We lived one block from the arena. That meant all home Basketball games, Volleyball games, concerts, etc., I would drive around for 20-30 minutes looking for a parking spot. I literally drove around for over an hour several times. I tried various methods of finding the best spot and it got scary at times. People get really desperate for a parking spot after enough time!
Then we found out Savannah was on the way and we purchased a house, Alex got her drivers license and her first car, then Savannah arrived, then COVID arrived and we had to quarantine. I think because Alex and I were a little bit older we were so ready for the change – minus the COVID part. Not going out, having my own driveway and garage, and feeling like we have everything we need for our little girl.
Today I wake up first and get the house warmed up. I start the coffee, Feed Ghost and Tux, I set up the living room so that Ghost and Savannah both have their own spaces to play, Make myself breakfast and listen to a podcast or whatever. Last, i shower and get ready for work. About the time I get through my emails and see how my day at work is going to look, Alex and Savannah are waking up and we all spend a few minutes checking in on what we have going on that day. Alex and Savannah have their morning time breakfast while I try to get ahead and crank out some stuff at work. Hopefully we get to have lunch as a family. Savannah’s going to have a nap or two in there, I finish work, and then we switch, and Alex does her thing while I hang with Savannah in the evening. We take turns making dinner, although Alex does make it more often!
I think being a Dad has really helped me to think about my decision and make sure that everything I do is going to have a positive impact on Savannah. Moving to a family location, having a child, working from home, and being forced to quarantine has in a way all played a part in creating this life for Alex and I that we both love. I know we both want this pandemic to finally end so we can see our friends and family again. I also know that going through these changes have made us a strong family.
I would love to hear from some other dads. If anyone wants to reach out to me and let me know how this has affected your life, please do not hesitate and please share in the comments on The Fox and The Bee Instagram and Facebook page about your experiences! Happy parenting and thank you for reading!