Congratulations!! You and your partner have welcomed a new baby into your lives. You both survived the pregnancy, the childbirth, all while still juggling your everyday lives. It is definitely not easy. And it’s a major life adjustment. So how do you make it work with your partner as new parents? How do you create that sense of teamwork with your partner that is needed after having your first child?
First, isn’t it crazy to think that your entire life, especially the first few months, revolves around this little thing that only weighs a few pounds? Like, your – every – single – second. You feel exhausted. Stressed. Incompetent at times. Like you’re falling apart. Or even alone. But guess what?… Chances are that your partner is feeling pretty similar to you, even if it doesn’t appear that way.
Secondly, it’s easy to feel alone. But you’re not! You have your partner, and he/she has you. Your team just looks a little different now. Before it was just you two and the main goal was enjoying each other. Now, as parenting teammates, you ALSO get to be coaches for your child throughout his/her life, and it can be difficult managing the multiple roles at once. One day, your partner might get your child down quickly for a nap when it usually takes you 30 more minutes on most days. That’s okay!! Your TEAMMATE made an awesome play that day. The next day, you might get to have an awesome play, too.
But how do you balance being a teammate AND coach at the same time?!
It is truly important to keep in mind that you and your partner are in this life stage together. Sharing common goals (even if they are small… the small goals are just as important!) and providing encouragement can really help. This also assists with creating a sense of “we”ness and “us” which is important for your relationship, especially during this major (and sometimes difficult) transition. So keeping with the positive language and encouragement for your partner, and even yourself can help!
Figuring out what the new roles will look like: This may mean taking on new roles with which you’re not familiar, or even comfortable. Sometimes it even means giving up roles and tasks that you’re used to doing. You may have to let your partner take those on. Giving up control of anything can be difficult, but you and your partner have a common goal. They may have more time to clean or cook around the house… let them! It may not be the way you would have done things, but does it really matter in the end? They are contributing to the team in any way that they can, and THAT is what truly matters… And saying “thank you” ties back into that positive language between you both.
Another thing that can help you and your partner create a solid team is creating a space with clear and respectful communication. Ever watch a baseball game and see two outfielders run and reach for a sky-high, rapidly falling baseball that was hit to left, center field? Ever see these two outfielders bump into each other and the ball fall to the ground? Yep… it will happen. Probably more than once. You will have a lack of communication or miscommunication with your partner and the ball will fall right between you two. You’ll assume your partner has something covered or will let you know about something. Being clear about your expectations or what you want things to look like can help your partner see your view and help with meeting your needs. Try not to assume anything; it’s better to just ask your partner. But keep in mind, you need to be open to his/her point of view as well.
Something else that can help your communication with your partner during this transition is actually setting time aside to have conversations about roles, expectations, what helps, what works, what doesn’t, and even just conversations about ANYTHING will be important. It can help you feel connected to your partner. Set time aside daily or weekly, whatever works with your schedule. It will give you and your partner something to look forward to and assist with creating space for just the two of you.
Another important thing to remember is to give yourselves credit and a break when needed. It is difficult stepping into a new important role. You will have bad days here and there. You will fight with your partner also. But you both need to give each other and SELVES a break. You’re both trying and that is what is important… the effort.
Transitioning into any new role can be overwhelming. If you believe you and/or you and your partner are needing a little bit more than what you’ve tried, give our office a call! We have great therapists who have been there, who get it, and who can assist you and your partner during this new journey.
About the author:
Rosann Raftery is a Limited Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LLMFT) and LLLPC living in Grand Rapids, MI. She specializes in working with couples and families to assist them in building their communication skills, healing, and strengthening their relationships. She is available for Marriage Counseling, Family Counseling, Pre-Marital Counseling, Divorce Recovery, and more. For more on Rosanne, read her full bio.