During pregnancy and leading up to birth, couples often are so consumed with excitement over the thought of meeting their new baby, that they take little time to think about what life will look like after baby comes home. Indeed, babies do change your life -- in many beautiful, positive, never-thought-I-could-love-someone-so-much kind of ways. And in many less-than-glamorous and starry-eyed ways, too. We can't possibly cover all of the life-changing topics in a single blog post, so today I'll just start with this: consider how you and your partner will get everything done once you bring baby home.
First, let's review some of the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities that go into life, living, and keeping a home. For example:
- Grocery shopping
- Yard upkeep
- Trash & recycling out
- House repairs & maintenance
- Cooking meals
- Car servicing, washing, and gas
- Showers and personal care
- Caring for other children
- Going to the bathroom
- Caring for a pet
- Spending time with your spouse/significant other
- Pay bills
- Attending social events
- Connecting with family and friends
- Sending birthday cards/presents
- Going to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, chiropractor, optometrist
- Etc. (oh, you know there's more!)
Now, let's take a look at what is required when caring for a new baby:
- Feeding the baby (up to an hour at a time, or longer)
- Burping the baby
- Changing the baby's diaper
- Changing the baby's clothes
- Changing your clothes (hey, it happens!)
- Doctors' appointments
- Packing the diaper bag
- Playing/talking to the baby
- Worrying about the baby
- Putting the baby to sleep
- Putting yourself to sleep
- Taking pictures of the baby (duh)
- Posting pictures of the baby on Facebook
- Scrolling through Facebook -- Hey, get off and go back to sleep!
- Reading books about baby care and sleep
- Buying diapers, wipes, clothes, burp clothes -- anything that's needed for baby
Ok, you get my point. The reality is that you have a whole new set of responsibilities when your baby comes home! It's important for you and your partner to sit down together -- before baby arrives, if possible -- and lay out a "who will do what" list. Discussing these things in advance of the sleep-deprived emotions and stress that new parents often experience will allow you to come up with a solid (but flexible) plan and hopefully, avoid arguing over the small stuff, like whose responsibility it is to empty the dishwasher or plan the week's meals.
When you sit down to discuss "life after baby," consider these few helpful hints:
- Some of your priorities on the first list are going to have to go. Or at least wait. Boil down what's really needed in the first 6 months.
- Consider what you can delegate and to whom. Friends? Neighbors? Family? Postpartum doula? Cleaning service? Lots of people love to help out new parents -- take them up on their offers.
- Think of ways to cut corners where you can. This includes ordering out for dinner more than normal, sending an email for a birthday instead of a card, cleaning every other week, etc.
The more time you can put into preparing and planning for your postpartum time, the more likely you'll be able to enjoy that time and strengthen the bond between yourself and your partner. And remember, this time will soon(er than you believe) pass and be but a distant memory -- your life will become "new normal" and you'll wonder how you ever managed before you had a child.