Parenting Partners: Caring for Baby Takes Teamwork
The responsibilities of baby care may not always be evenly divided between you and your partner. Who woke up with the baby last night? Whose turn is it to change the next diaper? Keeping score on who is doing more or less work probably won't help the situation (or your relationship). Instead, it's important to recognize each other's efforts and offer support when your partner is stressed out. Try to make a point to check in and ask each other "How are you doing?" and "What can I do to help you?"
Here are some tips for working together to help meet your family's needs:
- Tackle the work week as a team. There are lunches to pack and a baby to feed and dress, and don't forget to brew the coffee! Make a plan of attack for the mornings so you and your partner feel in control amid the chaos.
- Be consistent with baby care. It's OK for parents to do things differently. You and your partner may have different parenting styles, but it helps to communicate and be on the same page when it comes to baby care (e.g., feeding, naptime or bedtime routines). If you don't see eye to eye on some aspects of parenting, talk through your concerns and try to find a compromise that works for both of you.
- Take turns with dinner duty. Decide who will be in charge of dinner ahead of time and share the responsibility throughout the week. Make-ahead freezer meals or heat-and-serve options can save time.
- Bring back date night. Even if you're tired and feel like crashing on the couch instead of going out for dinner and a movie, make a point to connect with your partner.
- Be there for each other. If you see your partner struggling or you can sense something is wrong, show your support. Offer your help and listen to his or her needs. Encourage your partner to do the same for you. Everyone has their not-so-good moments, and sometimes all it takes is another person's encouragement to help you get back on track.
- Sleep when you can. Maybe you both miss sleeping in on Saturday mornings when it was just the two of you. Now you have a baby who's ready to start the day at 5am or 6am every day of the week. If there's a golden opportunity to catch a nap while baby is sleeping, go for it!
There are new challenges with every stage of parenting. If you lay the groundwork for teamwork early on, you'll be ready to handle the twists and turns of parenthood together.
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