Parenthood is an exciting and fulfilling journey, but it is also fraught with challenges, conflicts and many a sleepless night.
Is it possible to prepare ourselves well for parenthood?
And can we approach parenthood with a positive mindset?
Here are 6 practical strategies that have worked for me in my own parenthood journey.
1. Communicate your fears and dreams
If you’re planning to try for a child, it is vital to communicate with your partner what your hopes, dreams and even fears are about parenthood.
Sharing your feelings and thoughts in a transparent manner can help to build trust between you and your spouse, and also surface any challenges or differences in opinion, ahead of time, so they can be resolved before baby arrives.
Sharing your feelings and thoughts in a transparent manner can help to build trust between you and your spouse.
2. Anticipate challenges
We’ve all heard of the myriad challenges of parenthood: lack of sleep, difficulty securing babysitters and child-minders, and a general sense of overwhelm.
For many couples, juggling the different responsibilities of work and family can be a major challenge. When things get overwhelming, it is common for self-care and time together as a couple to get pushed to the bottom of the list. This can have a negative effect on our emotional health, as well as the marital relationship.
The first step to overcoming these challenges is to recognise that each season of parenthood brings its own set of difficulties, and to commit to working things out as a team.
3. Remember your spouse’s needs too
Finding a balance between caring for your spouse and your child can feel more like an art than a science.
However, this might require a slight mindset change on our part. We’ve found that when couples prioritise their marriage, the whole family thrives – including the children.
Make time to spend one-on-one time together regularly as husband and wife. You can rely on these scheduled couple dates to emotionally connect and communicate with your spouse.
They don’t have to be elaborate or expensive – even watching a movie at home together or playing your favourite computer game counts! The important thing is taking time to talk heart-to-heart, laugh and have fun with each other.
If you struggle to find time for intimacy, just schedule it and mark it down on the calendar. Remember that when something is important enough, we will somehow make it happen, so find a time that works best for you and your spouse, and get some help if you need to.
The important thing is taking time to talk heart-to-heart, laugh and have fun with each other.
4. Talk about household responsibilities
Different couples work out household chores differently. If you feel that you’ve been doing most of the heavy lifting, it may be good to discuss some possible ways that your spouse can chip in.
Often, you’d find that your spouse is willing to help, but isn’t clear on how to go about helping. Figure out some of the things you’ll be happy to split, such as one puts clothes in the washing machine to wash and hang, while the other takes it down to put it away, one gets the groceries while the other plans the meals, or taking turns for baby’s night feeds on weekends.
Once you’ve agreed on a plan, and both parties understand the expectations, caring for the home (and the baby) will likely be a smoother and more fulfilling process.
5. Strive to balance work and family
The early years of raising a child may feel more intensive as young children are more reliant on their parents. However, this is just one stage of parenting; you’ll have more time for personal interests and advancing your career as your child grows and becomes more independent.
Work and family responsibilities will be a constant juggle, so it’s best to take time to discuss your family and career goals with your spouse. When you’re both in agreement, it becomes a lot easier to work as a team towards achieving those aims.
Make time to review these goals as a couple, perhaps on an annual basis, and celebrate your progress, or consider if any of your goals need to be changed. Finding work-life harmony is a shared goal for both husband and wife – and it will take both of you to make it a reality.
When you’re both in agreement, it becomes a lot easier to work as a team towards achieving those aims.
6. Be part of a community
Being in a community of parents can provide much-needed support and encouragement for new mums and dads. Indeed, when challenges arise, it can be reassuring for new parents to realise that they are not alone; other parents have had similar experiences too.
Whether it’s an online forum or a new mums’ support group, try to seek the support and fellowship of more experienced parents around you. This way, you are setting yourself up for success in your journey towards parenthood.
• What is one challenge that you can better prepare for before baby arrives?
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