Your body is healing from birth and you have a new little person to take care of around the clock. You’re nursing, pumping, or feeding constantly—or thinking about the next feeding—and sleep is hard to come by for both you and your partner. With pregnancy, birth, and doctor’s orders to wait until about six weeks after delivery, sex may be a distant memory, especially given how busy and tired you are.
Add to all of that the new roles you both have as parents. It’s a transition worth celebrating, but you’re probably experiencing a flood of emotions while you learn to find yourselves amid your new identities.
It’s okay to acknowledge all the ways your life has changed and all the things you’re going through. Looking at your situation honestly is the first step to making sure you are both thriving and staying connected as partners. You need to support each other and also be a solid foundation for your new baby. Below are some tips on how to connect emotionally with your partner and make this time truly memorable.
Listen and Be Patient with Your Partner.
You and your partner are busier than ever, but it’s even more important to take time regularly to talk about how you’re both feeling. How are you handling the transition to parenthood? What areas do you feel good about? What are you struggling with?
Voicing your feelings helps you better understand the other person and what might be going on below the surface. It’s also a great way to figure out how to troubleshoot and help one another. For instance, if you’re overwhelmed because you’re up every night nursing the baby, maybe your partner can help make sure you get time to nap during the day.
Also, realize that you’re probably both going to have ugly moments. Let’s be honest—you’ll probably snap at each other or say things you don’t mean in the thick of the stress. Try to take deep breaths and step back for some perspective. Apologize when you need to. These days with your new baby are precious, but they are hard too. Have each other’s back and give each other grace.
Share Your Responsibilities.
You and your partner are probably settling into a routine with your baby, and you’re figuring out how to manage your daily to-do list. You can easily get into a rut by doing the same tasks over and over, so try trading off. If you’re constantly feeding your baby, perhaps your partner can give him or her a bottle so you have a break. Or your partner could burp and change your baby after a feeding. Have you been bathing the baby while your partner washes bottles and pump parts? Try switching it up so you’re each getting both one-on-one time with your child and some (relatively) quiet time. Plus, sharing the responsibilities will help each of you experience what the other is taking on, and you’ll both appreciate each other more. You’re a team, so try not to keep score of who’s doing what—you’ll bond by conquering your responsibilities together.
Let Others Help You.
One of the best ways to take care of yourself and to create more time for you and your partner is to accept some help. Do you have friends and relatives who want to stop by to hold your new baby? Have they offered to bring you a meal or help out around the house? Let them! Don’t feel bad about taking people up on their offers for help. While they’re getting newborn snuggles, maybe you can grab a quick nap or shower or throw in a load of laundry. Or you and your partner can take a walk around the neighborhood. Even if it’s short, it’s time for just the two of you to connect uninterrupted.
If you’re in a position where you can hire some help, do it! Maybe you can have someone clean your house or watch your baby for a few hours so you and your partner can get some sleep or go on a date.
The saying “it takes a village” is true, and it’s worth it to get the help you need! Your family and friends would probably love the chance to help you out and get to bond with your baby in the meantime. And remember, asking for help will create more space for you and your partner to maintain your relationship, which will allow you to be better parents for your baby.
Have a Date Night.
If possible, try to establish a regular date night. This will ensure that the two of you are spending time with one another and building your relationship. Even if you’re not able to go out regularly, try to schedule something every now and then and make a point to not let your time together become a thing of the past. Just because you’re parents now doesn’t mean you have to stop dating!
Try to think of creative ways to get out of the house or even stay in and enjoy some time without distractions. You could even heat up a freezer meal to enjoy after the baby goes to sleep or watch one of your favorite shows together. Make it an event where you settle down together and cuddle on the couch. Even small moments of connection will go a long way to strengthen your relationship and give you a break from your busy day. Check out this blog for some date night ideas for new parents.
Enjoy Time as a Family.
You can also bond with your partner through shared experiences as a family. You have created an amazing, tiny person who has filled your hearts and already brought you closer. Your new normal is exciting, and creating memories as a family will be something you treasure. You’re going to love showing off your new little one at the zoo or a farmer’s market. Even going to a restaurant can be doable when your baby is small and sleeps a lot, so take advantage of this stage before he or she is mobile! Just make sure to follow your doctor’s orders about taking your baby out, particularly if it’s cold and flu season.
Remember It’s Just a Season.
You may need to get a little creative to enjoy quality time with your partner in this busy stage, but remember this season won’t last forever. Enjoy these moments, keep it all in perspective, and laugh.
You might only see challenges and roadblocks, but this time can help you and your partner become more connected than ever before. There’s something pretty amazing about seeing your partner with your baby and feeling how much love you have for them both. You’re all doing a great job!