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By Ariel Nicole
And then there were three…. well not yet. So, you are still preparing for the transition of being a family of two, to soon becoming a family of three. How exciting! I am sure as you prepare for what is ahead, people have reached out to you with all kinds of unsolicited parenting advice. Some good, some bad, and some downright ugly and unusable.
When I was pregnant, I really think people meant well, so I always smiled and went on my merry way. What I really wished for was some relationship advice on how to keep balance and still maintain a healthy relationship. So I want to share five tips with you about how to plan for a balanced, healthy relationship with your mate before and after baby arrives.
1. Before baby comes, strategize who will take care of what household chores. One partner may choose to cook and do the dishes while the other does the laundry. One person may decide to all the chores while one partner cares for the baby. Whatever the expectation, talk with your partner about it so there are no surprises in the form of piles of laundry or a sink full of dishes once the baby arrives.
2. You may have gone through major surgery with a C-section, pushed a baby out of your birth canal, or had another path to becoming a new mother, all which can be very exhausting. Intimacy may be the furthest thing from your mind. Changing hormones (due to postpartum or breastfeeding) can also play a part in how you feel about connecting with your mate. Just remember that sex is not the only way to be intimate. Try some of these ideas to keep the intimacy between you and your mate: hold hands, kiss, hug, rub noses, cook dinner together, go for a walk, talk, write a note, pray with each other, listen. to music, dance with each other, complete a puzzle, have and old school staring contest.
3. Do you know what you would like your parenting style to resemble? Does your partner share that same value? Talk to your partner about their parenting style, expectations, family involvement etc. Last week my partner said he liked to let our daughter explore when he takes her on walks or to the park. He told me he did not have the same opportunity when he was a child because people were always in a rush. I had no idea! Even though we had discussions of parenting and parenting style this never came up. So, have the discussion often, as your parenting style and parenting decisions my change as your child grows.
Do you know what you would like your parenting style to resemble? Does your partner share that same value? Talk to your partner about their parenting style, expectations, family involvement etc.
4. Open the lines of communication about taking care of baby and yourselves. Like with most of the other suggestions talk about who will take the lead on feeding, changing, bathing, holding baby, putting baby to sleep and who will wake up in the middle of the night. Some partners may believe the mother should do everything, some believe it should be a 50/50 effort. Talk about the expectation of each partner and put it in writing to make it easier to remember. Also, when will you all groom (shower, brush teeth, etc.) or go to the salon or barber shop.
5. Money talks and the research says money is the number one cause of divorce and break ups. The new baby is going to need clothes, food, and cool gadgets. Plan a budget and stick to that budget. Sticking to the budget now, can help to keep arguments about money to a minimum in the future.
In conclusion, the number one tip I can give new parents growing their family from two to three is communication. Keep your partner in the loop about how you feel, what you are thinking, if you need support or a break, tell them your fears or anxieties, talk about your wins as new parents. Be selfish and find time to communicate about your partnership, the things you like, enjoy, and may want to experience between just the two of you.
Ariel Wright a facilitator, counselor, and coach. Ariel has partnered with local, national, and international organizations to educate individuals on various topics related to sexuality, human development, relationships, and leadership.
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