When expecting a baby, there is often a lot of focus on labor & delivery, decorating the nursery and obtaining the right gear.
However, often times there is a whole lot less emotional energy and mental space dedicated to thinking about the impact the arrival of a baby will have your relationship and lifestyle.
Carving out a space for babies things, her crib, her tiny clothes (they get bigger?!), her bathtub and toys is a way to make space for baby. It is useful to continue on this path of making space by thinking about the space baby will consume in your relationship.
It is equally, if not more important, to make mental emotional space in your relationship for babies arrival.
Division of Labor
An important aspect of communication in a relationship is the ability to think together about challenges and problems as they arise. It can be equally important to try to think about what challenges might arise in the first weeks and months of new parenthood.
Lying in bed, both pretending to be asleep as baby cries in the other room, each hoping the other will get up to feed or change the baby is a recipe for resentments. A discussion about division of labor can go a long ways to feeling like you are a team.
A friend of mine shared with me that she and her husband had decided that because she was in charge of “input” he was to be in charge of “output.” A wonderfully concise way to come up with terms for the division of labor.
Baby – Life Balance
Deciding how you will connect as a couple and recharge as an individual is vital to the maintenance of a partnership and a sense of self outside the roles of Mom and Dad.
Becoming over burdened by work, childcare and household responsibilities can leave you as a couple feeling disconnected. However, it is not just date nights and scheduled sex that help hold a marriage and family together, its communication and collaboration.
Scheduling time to talk and sync calendars, ensuring you are both on the same page about who needs to be home early one night so the other can work late, leads to less miscommunications. And not surprisingly, a reduction in miscommunications reduces stress between partners.
These scheduled times for communication can go beyond conversations about logistics and branch into conversations with open ended questions which leads to feeling more connected to one another.
Addressing parents questions such as comforting baby, check and see, cry it out or a million other variations? Attachment parenting, slow parenting, concerted cultivation, or nurturant parenting? The list goes on and on and there are strong opinions on all sides.
There is no one right answer; and, as one sage individual pointed out to me, if there were, we would all do it that way. The point is to begin a conversation about each of your ideas and beliefs. Having been raised in different families, with their own cultures and practices, there can often times be assumptions about how things are done.
Another pitfall in new parenthood is expecting your partner to have all the answers, forgetting that they too are brand new to the job. Seeking answers is normal, there is a booming business in baby books for a reason, but expecting the other to have the answer and not attempting to think together about challenges can leave both partners feeling over burdened, afraid and isolated.
It can be such a relief to have someone around who has experience raising children, that child having been you or your partner.
Confused about what to do? There she is in shouting distance to cast some light on the subject. Hungry? There seems to be an endless supply of food those first few weeks. Tired? Just hand baby off to the temporary live in help.
However, as the reality of the new reality begins to set in and everyone else returns to their lives, it can be a wholly terrifying experience. You were ever so grateful for the help, but now you and your partner must not only take on the childcare duties yourselves, you need to assess your childcare providers and support network as well as set boundaries and limits with these loving people.
These conversations can be openings for connections as well as a way to identify potential pitfalls. This is a wild and wonderful journey you have embarked on and it will take all marshaling all your resources and support systems to see it through successfully.
About the Author
Dr. Margot Kirschner is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Well Clinic, specializing in helping parents in their