Today, I want to share a more personal post with you. After almost a year of being parents, I feel able to share some advice about how to keep your relationship healthy post-baby. It hasn’t been the easiest of adjustments but to coin a cliche, becoming parents has made our relationship much stronger. Even if it did shake the foundations a little bit.
G and I have been together for just over seven years. Our first date was at the local leisure centre when I was fifteen and he was sixteen (so glamorous!). We dated on and off throughout my teenage years until I went to university. A year or so after that, after I had been through a pretty horrendous break up, he came to visit me. We started a relationship that day (which seems crazy on reflection!) and have been together ever since. We got married in March 2016- more about that in this post. It has been such an adjustment to go from only considering each other’s needs to centering our whole word around Freddie’s instead. Below are a few things that have helped to keep our relationship healthy.
SHARE THE LOAD
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on this, however I hear and see new mum’s talking a lot about doing nights on their own and it makes me a bit sad. From the very beginning, G and I have both done the ‘night shift’ together. Even though I am breastfeeding, he would bring me the baby to feed and then put him down. Or in the early days, wind him after I had fed him. Some people say that it’s a bad idea because then both of you end up tired. I disagree. I know that seeing G sleeping whilst I was up every few hours to feed/change Freddie would have made me silently seethe. That would have done far more damage to our relationship than both being tired. There were many times when I told him to sleep but from his perspective, he had been at work all day and just wanted to spend time with Freddie and feel useful. Even at 2am…
GRASS IS NOT ALWAYS GREENER
This is something that I still struggle with sometimes but it is so important to remember. When I have had a tough day with a nap-refusing, teething baby it is so easy to feel jealous of G. Jealous that he gets to go for a wee in peace, finish a hot drink while it’s hot and take a walk at lunchtime on his own. In the early days, I expressed this to him a lot and it just wasn’t constructive or fair. I hadn’t considered that maybe he felt the same. That perhaps he hated leaving us in the morning after a tough night or felt useless not being able to come home when I just needed a bit of help. The grass is not always greener, and it is crucial to empathise with each other’s point of view.
PLAN TIME TOGETHER AND TAKE TIME OUT
It might sound contradictory but I honestly feel that both of the above are needed for a healthy relationship. We don’t do this often enough, but going out together just the two of you is so important. Going for a meal together or even just for a coffee, reminds you that you were a couple before you became parents. That you had shared interests outside of your beautiful baby.
In contrast, you also need time on your own as well. My husband prefers not to have this because he feels he misses out on so much of Freddie during the week. However, I have found I need time on my own to be a good mum. Whether it is an hour, or a whole day (not managed that just yet!), I always feel much calmer and a better Mama when I have had a little bit of time out.
It was only after Freddie’s Silent Reflux days were truly behind us, that my husband shared how difficult he had found the flare-ups. He told me he had felt useless when he couldn’t soothe him, helpless when he had to go to work and leave me on my own and guilty for not always enjoying our baby. I had shared all of the above, except the going to work bit, with him but he felt he needed to be strong for me. He adores Freddie, he is an amazing Dad and he loves him more than anything else in the whole world. Admitting he had found those days or weeks tough would not have changed that and I wish I had known.
INVOLVE YOUR PARTNER
When you are the sole carer for most of the week, you develop your own way of doing things. You know what your baby likes, the easiest way to cheer them up and how to get them to sleep. Whether you have a strict routine or not, you will have multiple little routines for bedtime or mealtimes that you do automatically. It is really hard when your partner is home to not take over, or at least it has been for me!
However, it is so important to make sure your partner does feel involved. For us, because G is home just before Freddie’s bedtime, mornings are Daddy and Freddie time. G gets Freddie up and gives him his breakfast and then they have a bit of playtime. I stay completely out of the way during this and it has worked out really well. They now have their own routine which is super cute. At the weekends, G takes Freddie out in the carrier for his naps which gives me a bit of time to myself and them a bit of time together. G still loves wearing Freddie and has done ever since he was a couple of months old and I think that has really helped their bond.
I hoped you enjoyed this post, it is a bit of a personal one for me but an important one to share I think. Do you have any tips for having a healthy relationship post-baby? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading and see you on Wednesday (when my baby will be one..!),
P I N M E