What do your kids see and feel at home?
Do they see happy parents? Or grumpy parents? Do they see two people in love or two people at war?
Do they see their parents as two caring and compassionate people who respect each other, help each other, talk to each other, and laugh together often? Or do they feel tension, and hear blaming, nagging, fighting, criticism, and silence?
What did you imagine being a family would be like? Was it a picture of blissful, happy days filled with laughter and joy? Is that the reality? What is the reality?
Almost without exception, couples experience relationship issues when their much-anticipated and eagerly awaited first child arrives. With so much focus on the new baby — where and when it will sleep, feeding, clothing, bathing, settling, transporting — couples often get distracted from focusing on each other.
And if couples somehow escape the almost universal post-baby issues first time around, they are sure to get hit with the arrival of their second or subsequent children.
Lives diverge after the birth of a baby and both partner’s can be left feeling less understood and less appreciated.
The main caregiver can grow resentful about their lack of freedom and are confused that the arrival of their adorable baby has left them feeling more like the nanny and the cleaner rather than a highly competent and capable person who is also a parent.
For the breadwinner, financial pressure usually increases and many feel caught between doing what is expected at home, doing what is expected at work, and occasionally doing something recreational. Whatever decision they make, they are usually letting someone down
Below are FIVE things couples can do to ensure they not only stay together, but that they are a happy post-baby couple.
5 ways to be a happy couple after baby
1. Talk to each other
Firstly, check in with each other regularly. Ask “How was your day?” and listen for the answer.
Secondly, make sure you regularly go out without the children, for a nice meal or whatever and see if you can avoid talking about ‘kids’ or ‘work’. It might be harder than you think!
2. Allow dads and partners to be more hands-on
Dads and partners need to be able to develop their own different — but equally valid — ways of doing things around the home.
Dad time with kids from the first weeks and months, is essential to both partners fully understanding the implications of parenthood.
Women who say their partners simply do not understand how draining it can be being at home all day with children need to negotiate for them to do that. Men who are involved at home are more able to give their partners the emotional support and understanding they need, especially as they navigate a major change in their life direction.
3. Create reciprocal arrangements around time out from work and family
Couples need to ensure that both partners have time out from work and family. This is helped by couples coming to the understanding that, ‘when one goes to work, the other goes to work at home with the kids’. Therefore, before and after work and weekend childcare and housework need to be shared.
Having some time out together is helpful too – so hiring a babysitter could come in handy.
4. Value what each partner does
Acknowledge the contribution both partners are making. Caring for a baby full time is rewarding, but can often lead to a crisis in self-esteem and domestic claustrophobia.
Couples need to agree on where work comes in their list of priorities to ensure it doesn’t become an escape route for either partner when things get tough at home.
5. Empathise with your partner’s world
If you’re both struggling to get things done around the home, then discuss hiring a cleaner once a fortnight, having take-away once a week or creating a routine where you take turns to cook.