Every couple says before the baby arrives that nothing is going to change the way they operate. Baby is just going to have to come along for the ride too. Many couples, excited and full of love for each other and the baby on the way, promise themselves things will never change. But hey, guess what? They do.
Here’s a quick sprint through the most common complaints new parents raise…
Lack of couple time
The age old question, ‘What happened to us?’ is asked quite frequently after baby arrives. Know this, your relationship will never be the same after you have had a child together. Remember those lazy sex-filled Saturday mornings? Late nights clubbing until dawn? Being able to just drop everything and head off on an adventure without considering anyone else but yourselves? Those days are over. Now you must welcome in an equally exciting, rewarding and FANTASTIC phase of your life. Being a parent.
It can be a tough job, parenting. Some people fall into it naturally, seeming to know automatically all the right things to do, say and be for their child. Others flounder, fumble and take a little while getting to grips with it – but they do fine in the end.
One of the biggest moans from new parents is not having time for each other any more. Retaining closeness and intimacy can be difficult when there’s a demanding new baby in the mix – everyone feels pulled in different directions and emotions can run high.
If you feel like you’re drifting apart following the arrival of baby, make an effort to spend more time together. Date nights, going out for dinner, taking an evening stroll or going away for a dirty weekend are all perfectly possible if you plan well in advance and get organised. A happy stable relationship is the best thing for you and the baby right now, so investing time in each other is a wise move. Look into child care services, babysitting or nanny support to help give you both a breather. Online services such as RockMyBaby are convenient, modern and thoroughly vetted services that help to arrange care for your precious child, exactly how and when you need it. Working out a regular program of babysitting or child care sessions could be just what you both need to give you some time alone sharing a meal or movie or simply to touch base together.
Babies never sleep for long, and rarely through the night at first. Getting used to sleep deprivation is something all new parents are forced into. Night feeds and regular bottle or breast sessions mean Mum or Dad is on call 24 hours, so it is a matter of fitting sleep in between the nourishment intervals. Lack of sleep makes for pretty grumpy people, so it’s wise to work out a rota or system where you take it in turns. There’s no point in you both feeling wiped out and tired. It does get better eventually, but the first couple of months can be a challenge. Establish good sleeping habits early on and keep the bedroom where baby sleeps calm, a comfortable temperature and not too brightly lit.
We all have strong views on parenting, but perhaps it was never something you really discussed before. Some couples discover they have very different attitudes towards child rearing, and it may come as quite a shock. Mild mannered, relaxed types are revealed as disciplinarians, and uptight stress junkies surprise us all by being the most laid back parents in the world. The key to keeping the peace is to maintain open lines of communication. If you don’t agree with something, don’t keep quiet and let it turn into resentment. Whether it’s a philosophical question or a basic parenting technique, if you have a problem with it, share it with your partner. As a parent you will become over familiar with the concepts of compromise, negotiation and conflict diffusion – it goes with the territory.
As well as their 100 per cent loveliness, babies bring along a lot of extra work with them. New parents become totally task oriented and sometimes they will feel swamped by the magnitude of jobs on the baby list. Make sure that a fair division of labour is bashed out so that both of you are pulling your weight. Be appreciative of each other’s efforts and share out the nice and nasty jobs equally as much as you can.
The parenting lark is one hell of a roller coaster ride, but it’s exhilarating, fun and rewarding too. Having realistic expectations is half the battle, so start brushing up on the areas that may require extra attention, and by the time baby arrives, you’ll be sorted.