Whether you already have a baby, children, or have friends with offspring, I’m sure you have heard the complaints about the stresses babies bring to life in general. The thing is, they are not simply complaints but very real issues that do occur. Nevertheless, children are a big blessing, and enjoying them as well as your marriage or partnership, and life, in general, is absolutely possible. It just requires a bit of honesty and babyproofing.
Just as you would your home, it is wise to take time to babyproof your marriage in time for the little one’s arrival. Please don’t take any of this as condescending advice, as with babies it really is each to his own, but here are some researched tips on the matter.
- The realization you are not alone
It seems mothers are happy to talk endlessly about baby topics but when it comes to the real struggles, there is an unspoken code of silence. Almost as if people show their best or their baby’s best but hide the messy stuff and suffer alone. It helps to realize everyone struggles and babies bring a certain type of pressure to life that affects every aspect of it. Being prepared for it to be tough is one thing, but when you are going through it, rest assured you are not alone and do not fear to reach out for support.
- Stress multiplied
Be prepared that the same issues that have always occurred will be multiplied with the presence of a baby or children. What was hard financially before, will be so much harder now. This applies to finding downtime, having no energy, being sleep-deprived, etc. Be prepared for this, talk about it, and encourage each other. It doesn’t have to break you and if you work out strategies before as one team, then it will be much easier to feel compassion for the other and work through it when it comes.
- Changing roles
Understand your changing roles and come to accept them. This is difficult particularly if the mother is accustomed to being the career-driven one and now has to (quite naturally) be the baby’s lifeline in the first few months. It is also difficult if the father has a stressful job for which he must be well-rested and it is difficult leaving at the crack of dawn every day knowing his precious partner and baby are at home. However roles have to be ever-changing based on the babies’ or children’s needs and for this to be a smooth transition, there needs to be an element of acceptance and respect for each parent’s contribution to the family, be it emotional, financial, or otherwise.
- Combatting the dullness
Not that having a baby is dull, but it is tiring and tedious at times and this can translate into the dull conversation and general disinterest if it isn’t dealt with properly. A simple thing to do to combat this is scheduling time to talk about all the logistical things that are sure to arise with having a little one, and then outside those times, try to relax, enjoy the family and talk about anything else. As difficult as it may be, try to schedule times with the use of in-laws, friends, or even just the baby monitor, to sit and enjoy a movie for example.
If you’re spent and conversation reserves are dry, simply just relax and be. Taking time out together is so important. This can extend to your alone time and romantic time. Though it may be the last thing on the mother’s mind and certainly the last thing sleep-deprived people feel like, it has long been suggested by experts to schedule a time to enjoy each other in every sense. With so many new pressures, the last thing anyone needs is to feel detached and distant from the one person they need unwavering support from.
- Have compassion always
This involves having compassion for the other parent as well as yourself. Stop score-keeping especially when it comes to care of the baby and try to share duties or do them together. It would be very easy to keep score when feeling sleep-deprived particularly if one parent does the most of one duty simply due to them being around more. But nagging and score-keeping ironically have the opposite effect of the intended fairness that is sought – and perhaps not surprisingly so.
If each parent’s sole aim, despite fatigue, is to look after the other – then both will end up feeling looked after and respected. And this will certainly make it easier to do the necessary duties with as much cheer as sleep deprivation will allow. It is also necessary to have compassion for yourself. You can only do your best in what is a very difficult time of life and you need to give yourself a break every so often. The phase will pass, as all things do.