Dear Overwhelmed Parents,
If you are reading this you are likely overwhelmed and tired or will be soon.
The combination of feeling overworked and under-rested is like a monster breathing down your neck. That pressure makes life harder and is one of the key reasons parents argue. You and your partner are both feeling stress and may have different needs when it comes to relaxing, house keeping, and other priority related issues.
There are many minor differences or patterns that come up for people after they have a baby. These patterns or disagreements are likely not new and may have been only mildly annoying or possibly even cute before you had kids. Now out in the wide open these little differences can really big impact how you feel about each other.
Four Simple Things
In the longer workshops there is lots of researched based advice for couples that can’t be covered on this page alone. I would like to share with you are four simple things that you can start doing right now that will improve your life.
I wrote this list a long time ago after a client who really wanted to attend Bringing Baby Home workshop but needed to cancel for personal reasons. If they could not attend the workshop I wanted to give them the best advice I could to help improve their relationship. I never know how my advice is going to land with people and this time it hit the spot! They wrote me back telling me how surprised they were that none of this had to do with the baby. These little tips made a big difference to them about how they felt towards each other.
1) Meet any sharp or cold behavior from your partner or yourself with love, understanding, and kindness.
One or both parents will get grumpy at times and that is normal and okay. No one is perfect. Sometimes to be nice when your partner is grumpy you will needs to walk away instead of engaging in an argument. Try meeting their need in that moment and move on.
“The real cradle that holds the baby is the emotional climate between new parents.”
-John Gottman, P.h.D
2) Look at each other.
Really s l o w d o w n long enough to savor your partners eyes, smile, and all of the things that you love about them. Do the same thing with your children. Looking at your computer, dirty dishes, or messy house just won’t have the same positive impact.
3) Give complements (“You made an amazing cup of coffee, thank you”) and share appreciations (“You look really great in that t-shirt.”). Do this even for the little things that don’t seem like they need or deserve a comment. Small things matter.
“But it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, it matters how you’re doing it.”
4) Keep expectations low.
Something does have to give temporally. Your life will return to a new normal in the coming months and years.
“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”
-Charles R. Swindoll
Do not let parenting get you down and not give up on you or your partner.
You may not be able to get all your shit (chores/work/self-care) done but you can adjust the way you do those tasks. This will ensure that you will still like your partner when see light at the end of the baby tunnel. You will start to see light at the end of the tunnel— I promise.
Being harsh with your body language and spoken word is one of the quickest ways to get your partner to disengage— that means they will be less and less helpful push away at the moment you want support.
This advice is for BOTH parents. Any good relationship needs everyone involved to do their part. If you just read this I suggested forwarding it to your partner so they can partake in the growth opportunity too.