So, you're having a baby! Whether this is your first, third or fourth, a newborn always brings a new level of stress, chaos (and joy) to your household.
So how do you also prioritize your marriage with so many new demands from the baby? How do you achieve some sort of balance between chores, any existing kids, maybe a pet, work, family and everything else? At the end of the day, you still need your time together, without having to do chores or work, after the baby is asleep.
Here are our best tips on how to get it done and get through these newborn months!
1) Protect Your Couple & Individual Time- One of the first things to go when taking care of a newborn is personal and couple time. This is important because personal time is important so that you can bring the best you to the relationship. Couple time is needed because that is the base of the relationship and can erode chemistry, connection and even sense of love. Too many couples forget to put the core of the relationship first due to the kids, but this is a huge mistake and can ultimately lead to the demise of the relationship/marriage.
2) Establish Boundaries With In-Laws, Family & Friends- I know everyone is excited to see the baby/babies and that is a good thing. However, it can really work against you when they don't know the schedule and put a strain on your own need for rest and quiet time. However, bringing in the support system can really be a big help to you both if you plan it the right way. Also, make sure you go over rules and establish authority on how you want your newborn to be cared for. A difference of opinion is healthy at times, especially with more seasoned parents but you still get to the run the show. If you don't like their parenting style, you have every right to set boundaries.
3) Discuss Expectations Around Intimacy- A lot of couples struggle with infidelity, unmet needs and disconnection right after the birth of a newborn. For medical reasons, intimacy (intercourse) is off limits for six weeks or more after birth. However, it is important to note that many women experience low libido while breastfeeding due to the chemical change in her body. It is okay to discuss need for intimacy openly so that you can be aware of one another's needs and meet them while caring for a newborn. Husbands, it is preferable to communicate your needs to your wife versus feeling guilty for desiring her time away from your son/daughter. You may have to take some things off her plate (preferably caring for your child) so she has capacity to meet your needs or can sleep and then find you (lol).
4) Plan Out Domestic Duties & Shared Responsibilities- Listen, things will change when you bring a newborn into this world. It totally disrupts your normal cadence and schedule because babies demand so much of your time. Thus, it is important to discuss gender and parenting roles when it comes to sharing the load of household chores. Who does the cooking, clothes, cleaning, transporting older siblings, homework, etc. now that you have a newborn?
Also, if you have the means, have a real discussion about bringing in outside help. I personally advocate for a nanny (or at least babysitter, family member, etc.) so that you can find balance faster while your child is being cared for. I realize this is a luxury versus the standard but if you can do it, consider it. There is nothing like having a date night, time to relax as an adult versus just a parent, and a break from being on the clock 24/7. Listen, taking a shower can feel like a luxury with newborns. Also, consider a cleaning service, meal preparation, landscaping, transportation, and/or tutors for other children if it frees up precious time and energy.
5) Discuss Parenting Styles- Inevitably, you will have a difference of opinion when it comes to parenting styles. Ideally, you would work as a team even if you have different styles so that you present a united front. For example, you could agree that mom take the lead on homework but for dad to step in if the process becomes stressful or consumes too much time for mom. You can also discuss discipline, different styles of play (dads tend to be very playful and more physical while moms are more careful- both are fine), and primary authority (who has final say when it comes to key issues) in advance so you can be on the same page.
6) Money Matters: Establish Financial Needs, Goals and Plans For The Expected- Money can be a sticking point for a lot of couples if it is not properly discussed. In fact, discussing money is encouraged to fully understand your partner's needs. For instance, many mothers desire to stay home after the three month maternity leave and may have to make a tough decision about work. This can cause either joy or strain to the husband depending on his ability and desire to be the sole provider so talk about it. Likewise, there are many mothers are ready to return to work for balance and fulfillment of their professional development. That needs to be discussed so that you can both balance career and family evenly that works for the total unit.
Hopefully, these tips help you to establish good communication and work together on one of the most beautiful blessings a couple can experience...bringing a newborn into this world together peacefully.