It Takes a Village: Making Teamwork Part of Your Home Culture
Caring for your baby takes teamwork. The responsibilities 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. Read more about going back to work after parental leave.
- Pencil in a date night with your partner. 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.
- Recruit extra help at home. Chores like laundry and cleaning can take forever when you're trying to multitask and keep an eye on baby at the same time. Imagine how much you can accomplish with a mother's helper! School-age children who are interested in spending time with baby but not quite ready for full-fledged babysitting can help keep baby entertained while you do chores around the house.
- Get a babysitter. Are you anxious about leaving your baby with a babysitter for the first time (whether your sitter is a trusted friend, neighbor or your own mother!)? Set up a babysitter and use the free time to run errands close to home or go for a walk around the neighborhood. A trial run can help you feel more confident when you need a babysitter for girls' night out.
- Maximize one-on-one time with baby. Plan special playtime sessions just with dad or mom — this is also the perfect opportunity for the other parent to get out of the house! Try things like blowing bubbles or bouncing to music with baby. If you have older children, be sure to carve out special time with mom or dad for each child.
- Set up playtime with grandma/grandpa. When grandparents babysit, it allows parents much-needed downtime and gives grandparents a chance to have fun. Learn more about getting grandparents up to speed on baby care.
- Trade off making family-style meals with neighborhood friends. It would be nice not having to scramble to get dinner on the table every night of the week. If you have friends in the neighborhood who are busy like you, take turns making meals to share one night a week.
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 with the support of your partner, family and friends.
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