Prenatal prep work
During bumphood it’s natural to focus on preparing for your little one’s arrival, but don’t neglect your relationship during this special time. These are the last few months that you will spend as just the two of you, so make a point to shower your partner with extra affection when the mood strikes and squeeze in as many date nights as the calendar allows. You won’t regret it.
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“Couples who put aside time for their relationship to focus on baby may not realize that they are ignoring one of the most important things they can offer to their baby: a strong and happy parental unit,” explains Katy Johnson Brookes, mom of two, registered clinical counselor and Gottman Bringing Baby Home educator in Mission, British Columbia.
You are a team both now and in the long run, as Melissa Robinson, mom of two and licensed marriage and family therapist in Walnut Creek, California, points out. “As a couple you will need to lean on each other through the momentous decisions around raising this amazing child into adulthood. Eventually [she] will move on and make [her] own way in the world. You will still be a couple after [she goes].”
Pregnancy is the perfect time to chat about the many changes that lie ahead. (There will be significantly less time—and energy—for in-depth discussions once you’re on baby’s round-the-clock routine of eat, sleep, poop.) Brookes suggests using this period to focus on moving from a “me” to “we” perspective. “Recognize that now that your baby is on board, every decision you make impacts your partner and baby,” she says. “Take some time to discuss each other’s expectations about how you will be dividing labor and time once baby is born. Learn together about some of the common challenges new parents face … [and] talk about how you would like to handle these issues as a team.”
It varies from couple to couple, but most newly minted parents find quarrels cropping up when these hot topics are on the table …
Maybe you had a clear delineation of labor prior to becoming mom and dad, but you’ve got a brand-new list of to-do’s now that baby has moved in. Come up with a plan for who will handle what, from emptying the diaper pail to heading off the ever- growing mountain of laundry, but be flexible. Most importantly: Make an effort to thank each other—even for the smallest tasks. Being appreciated staves off score- keeping, which often leads to resentment.
Time (out, alone, with each other)
There are some things you’ll have plenty of (like shirts with spit-up on them), but one department where you’ll be lacking is time. With only so many hours in a day and most of those accounted for by feedings and tummy time and diaper changes, there won’t be much excess for brunch with the girls, reading a book at your favorite coffee shop or having a date without a tiny third wheel. And let’s face it, if you can eke out an extra hour or two, it’s probably going to go toward a power nap.
But time away from baby—separate or together—will do you both some good. So strategize about how you can accomplish both. Maybe you each get one night off a week to spend as you please, or perhaps you can plan ahead for once-a-month dates that don’t take place in your living room. Find what works for your family.
Shelling out for well-checks and the diaper surplus that has taken over your hall closet can put a strain on your bank account and your partnership, especially if you don’t agree on whether a bouncer qualifies as a “necessary” purchase. It pays to map out your foreseeable expenses now and earmark what you can for savings (and unexpected costs that are bound to come up). By planning ahead, you can space out major buys over several paychecks and jointly decide where you can afford to scrimp or splurge.