Updated: Apr 20
There’s a steep learning curve in pregnancy and new parenthood, and often our focus is on the baby without much thought to how this major life transition will impact you and your relationship. During this transition, being deliberate about how you will work together with your partner to keep your home running smoothly during the stressful early days of parenthood will alleviate a lot of frustration and potential for conflict.
Studies show that in relationships where there is an imbalance around domestic work, that imbalance increases by 5-15 hours after kids. And with that, often resentment.
But by having conversations early on, you can enter this new phase as a team.
Share your stories! Think about the domestic tasks in your home or the childcare tasks that are now a part of your routine and talk about your expectations for them and about what you both value in each task (so that you can agree on the standards for their completion)
Create a plan for how you will tackle the new (and old) responsibilities of running a household and caring for children
Be explicit about the division of labor in your home and how you plan to share and rotate tasks so that no one person is stuck with having to do laundry or dishes forever (unless you really like laundry or dishes!). Be sure to approach all tasks with an ownership mindset so each of you has the freedom to plan and execute on tasks you are responsible for without feeling like someone is looking over your shoulder (or feeling like you need to look over someone’s shoulder)
And most importantly, share what you need in order to feel whole as a person and make a pact to protect that space for each other. Both of you should be able to have the freedom to do what you love without fear of judgment or resentment.
Explore Your Thoughts Around Bedtime
Try this as an exercise to see all that you both value about your baby’s bedtime.
· What do I want bedtime to look like?
· What do I value about that time with our baby?
· What tasks are included in bedtime?
· Is a consistent routine important? Why or why not?
· Are there traditions I would like to include from my childhood?
· What does reflecting on bedtime make me feel? Any stories to share?
· Who will do what?
As you have this conversation you may realize that you each have different priorities or expectations for bedtime. That is to be expected! eemingly mundane tasks have humanity behind them and, by having these conversations, you will be able to learn from each other, identify those disconnects and compromise so you can move forward as a team.
By approaching your new roles as parents with clear expectations and an understanding roles, it will alleviate a LOT of growing pains as you adjust to your new normal.
This article is inspired by the New York Times bestselling book “Fair Play” by Eve Rodsky. Fair Play is a process designed to illuminate the invisible work of domestic and childcare tasks and spark conversation between partners with the goal of more fairly dividing the responsibilities. By treating your home as your most important organization, you and your partner can work toward developing an ownership mindset and clear division of labor with the goal of reducing burnout and resentment, improving communication, and offering each of you the freedom to pursue your own interests.
If you would like a bit more support in setting up a system in your home or processing the many transitions of parenthood; the identity shifts and stresses that go along with them, Jessica Hill of The Parent Collective is a Motherhood Coach and Certified Fair Play Facilitator, and she is here to help. Visit her website to learn more or set up a complimentary call to see how she can help.