Having a baby is a life changing transition for couples that can be filled with excitement, newness, awe, learning and exhaustion. Gone will be the days of leisurely Saturday mornings, spontaneous date nights, uninterrupted romantic evenings and sleep….yes, that will be gone for a while too. All these adjustments in combination with caring for a new baby can cause a strain on even the best of relationships. Here are some helpful tips on how to nurture your relationship while nurturing your newborn.
- Connect with each other every day: Even if it’s a 10 minute debrief about your day while reheating a freezer meal at 9:00 PM because that’s the first chance you’ve had for dinner, take the time to connect. Consider these ten minutes a team meeting in which you touch base with your favorite teammate in this crazy game of becoming a family. Taking time to listen to one another, show support, and offer a hug or encouraging words can revitalize you both for the next 24 hours.
- Make simple loving gestures: Whether it’s popping an extra bagel in the toaster oven when you make your breakfast for your partner, sending an unexpected loving text, or bringing home a favorite treat, little gestures in the trenches of new parenthood make a big difference. In all the excitement and exhaustion of the new baby, it’s nice to know your partner is still thinking of you too.
- Plan date nights: Date nights, like you once knew, may be hard to come by these days. However, a date does not have to involve a fancy restaurant or movie and can even be had in the comfort of your own home. Try trading off who will plan the date night and surprising each other with the plan for the evening. Get creative with staying home by doing things like pizza making, games, movie marathons, or maybe a fun project for your home together. And once you’re comfortable leaving baby for a couple hours with a family member or trusted sitter, go on a real date!
- Get intimate: And no, this does not have to mean sex. The postpartum period, particularly for women, can be a time of decreased libido. Between recovering from birth, fluctuating hormones and breastfeeding, many moms just want to sleep when their head finally hits the pillow at night. Intimacy can include cuddling on the couch, taking the time to kiss or hug throughout the day, holding hands while watching a TV show or more adult rated fun if you’re feeling up for it! It’s easy to let this aspect of your relationship slip when you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and unsexy. Do your best to keep the flame lit in little ways regularly.
- Show appreciation for one another: Being new parents is often coupled with feeling like you are both constantly treading water. Between taking care of baby, keeping up with the housework, providing for the family, paying the bills, feeding the dog, keeping the refrigerator stocked and a dozen other necessary chores, it can often feel like a thankless job on both sides. Take the time to acknowledge everything your partner does on a daily basis to keep the family alive and well. A thank you and an acknowledgement of all the hard work from both parents can be just what we need to feel better at the end of a hard day.
- Continue to support your partner’s interests and hobbies: Whether it’s a weekly yoga class, the fantasy football draft or simply a hot bubble bath with some yummy aroma therapy, allowing your partner time to take time for themselves will help them be a better parent and partner. We all need time to recharge, enjoy our hobbies and indulge a little bit and this is particularly important when you are adjusting to the major life transition of being a new parent.
- Communicate: Your partner should be your safe place where you can be vulnerable and share what you need and how you are feeling. Being a new parent, while one of the most amazing adjustments of your life, can also be quite overwhelming. Share your feelings, fears, victories and road bumps with your partner. Ask for help if you need it, or a hug, or advice. Being parents is like being teammates for the most special sport of your life.
Don’t be distressed if your relationship seems to have taken a backseat since your baby has arrived. This is completely normal for couples as they navigate the overwhelming journey of parenthood. Just remember that this period of sleeplessness, newness and stress will pass and you will come out alive! The more that you and your partner can use this life changing transition to draw closer to one another and grow as parents and partners, the stronger you will come out in the end.