A new baby changes everything, and – especially for first-time parents – the biggest shock can be the impact that the arrival can have on our relationship with our partner. But some things can be done to help reconnect and find once more the passion of the pre-baby days. Keep reading for some tried-and-tested tips to get your relationship back on the road.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Caring for a newborn is exhausting. There’s nothing else like it: the sleepless nights, the neverending rounds of feeding and nappy changes, the impact on your finances and lifestyle, and the unimaginable tiredness and stress.
Many couples find that even making time to have a proper discussion together is impossible during this intense period, and this can cause significant problems both short and long-term. Resentment can build up when we’re not communicating, and so making some time for each other daily is absolutely vital; time in which each person truly listens, as well as being open about their feelings. Carving out space to connect every day is one of the most vital things you can do to maintain and protect your relationship.
Easy to say, but how to find this time, though, when you may well feel as if there are not enough hours in the day as it is. There are a few ways. Firstly, recognize that this newborn period is temporary and – although it may not feel this way now – it doesn’t last long. So allow the house to get a little less pristine than you’d usually like for a couple of months to claw some time back. The dusting can become a fortnightly job, for example, rather than weekly, and – really – is ironing ever actually really necessary? Accept help when it comes to chores or childcare – friends and family usually jump at the chance of lending a hand.
And don’t feel guilty if you and your partner occasionally (or often!) abandon the dishes to sit together on the sofa and chat instead.
Sort Out Sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause total havoc with our mental health and cause us to feel more emotional in general, especially if it’s sustained. This can lead to significant problems in a relationship, with most couples reporting that they argued and felt angry with their partner much more frequently after having a first baby.
Figuring out how to optimize sleep around your new baby’s needs is crucial and can play a key role in protecting your relationship. If it’s possible, sleep when your baby sleeps: during your little one’s daytime naps, get some sleep too, rather than trying to catch up on the housework.
If you’re combination or fully bottle feeding, share the night feedings with your partner so that you’re both able to have an unbroken few hours (at least) of rest in the night.
If the stress or anxiety of having a newborn is affecting your ability to sleep, then it’s important to consult a doctor who can give you the support you need and advice to help remedy the situation.
The Little Things
Taking the time to do little things that mean a lot for your partner during this newborn stage is another important way to protect your relationship from the stresses and strains of this time and keep you connecting as two people – as well as two parents.
A small gesture, such as making your partner an unrequested cup of coffee or picking up their favorite treat from the bakery while running chores, can make a huge difference and is a key way that you can show (and receive) appreciation. If Christmas or your partner’s birthday is approaching, be sure to make the gift you buy as personalized as possible to show that you still think of them as your romantic partner and not just the mother or father of your child. A personalized item of jewelry is a great option (have a look at onecklace.com if you need some inspiration), as is a subscription to a magazine that they’d find interesting or a spa reservation so that they can enjoy some well-deserved pampering.
Reinstate Date Night
And finally – get a regular date night back on the agenda again, and, if you can, try to leave the house and head out to a restaurant, cafe, or pub, for example. The idea is to reconnect again and to simply have fun being together and enjoying each other’s company.
When your baby is a newborn, it can be especially tricky to go out and about, and you may feel anxious or even guilty about leaving the house. If it is practical, however, spending even just an hour or two out of the house with your other half is important. Take your mom and dad up on their offer to come over to babysit and, if it would help you to relax, choose a destination that’s near to your home.
Maintaining a relationship after the birth of a newborn can be difficult – but it can also be done and, with effort on both sides, can help to mitigate some of the pressures of this magical but challenging time.