Sometimes as a new parent there may be days when you never leave the house, have a shower, or manage to get out of your pyjamas. What happens when your partner implies you have been doing nothing all day, but “playing with the baby”? Comments like those from your partner may reflect that they have no idea what it is really like. Caring for a baby can be like running a marathon that never ends and for which you receive no pay cheque!
When your partner is dismissive of what it takes to be the one at home or critical of how you might be doing it, this can negatively impact your relationship. Furthermore, if you are feeling a bit fragile that you are no longer the career woman you once were, comments like these can trigger your own concerns about self-worth. You may secretly think that you are achieving nothing and may be feeling you have lost your identity now that you are a stay-at-home mum. These comments are insensitive and can leave you feeling justifiably upset. Generally when both parents spend time being the one at home with the baby, these attitudes are less common.
Here are some ideas on what you can do to feel more supported by your partner and happier about the change in your identity.
- Suggest your partner take a turn being the stay-at-home parent, for a whole day, a weekend or even longer depending on parental leave arrangements. Spending time being at home with the baby may give your partner a new appreciation for what you are dealing with everyday and as a result they are more likely be more supportive.
- Look at the personal support you need, both emotional, mental and practical. Are there friends and family that you can ask for more help with the baby or to whom you can debrief with about how you are feeling? Having people to talk to, who understand what you are going through and who won’t judge you, are critical in adapting to life as a new parent. Maybe you also need the support of a professional counsellor or mothercraft nurse if there are concerns that friends cannot help with.
- Consider what might be going on for your partner. Perhaps you are bombarding your partner with conversation and demands as soon as he walks in the door after you have been on your own with baby? This is very common and your partner may be on the defensive or had a full stressful day himself. When you are both calm, discuss how you both need time to care for yourselves and work out a schedule that allows you both some breathing space. You are in this together so work on a solution that leaves you both feeling connected as a couple and a family unit.
- Look at your child care options – what arrangements do you have to take the burden off the two of you? Babysitters, neighbours and family members can be recruited so that you can both take alone as well as couple time. This time away from baby will give you time to recharge and be a better parent in the long run.
It is normal to feel that you and your partner may be on different wavelengths during your parenting journey. If criticism, contempt and confusion are creeping in to your relationship and you feel you need help than your friends can give you, then contact me now to book an appointment to get your relationship post-baby back on track. Let’s talk before it breaks.