You and your partner are expecting! Congratulations. This time is normally full of excitement, anticipation, celebration, and bliss. When you think about preparing for your baby, you might normally register for a list of items you need, consider a bigger house, modify your social calendar, and change your eating/exercise regime. What is often overlooked is answering the tough questions and having the difficult conversations that would be beneficial to you and your partner as you fully prepare for this life transition.
In this post, we examine five essential discussions that are important to have with your partner to work toward parenthood success.
Discuss parenting styles and values
Parenting isn’t easy and there are thousands of blogs, books, and podcasts to tell you the “right” way. You’ll receive more unsolicited advice from friends and family than you ever expected. Before these dynamics begin, have an honest discussion about parenting styles. How do you feel about attachment parenting, authoritative parenting, and discipline overall? Do you believe in time-outs, taking away privileges, or positive reinforcement? Will you allow your child to sleep in your bed, or breastfeed as long as he/she desires? Notice whether you are on the same page with your approach to your little one in these earliest days.
What is also important in developing your parenting style is thinking through the values you want to instill in your children and family. For example, do you want to instill values of creativity, curiosity, adventure, self-control, honesty, self-awareness, generousity or charity? Having a sense of these values, perhaps the top five most important, can guide your parenting style and provide a roadmap to how you spend time together and with others.
Determine childcare plans
Oftentimes parents assume they are on the same page about their feelings around childcare. Find out if that is the case by discussing immediate childcare plans for baby, as well as long-term plans for date nights and work obligations. Will one parent stay home postpartum? For how long? What is the financial impact and lifestyle changes that have to occur if one parent isn’t working for a year or more? How will you select caregivers? Will only friends and family watch your little one up to a certain age? Who will stay home from work when your child is sick? Will you have dedicated time and sitters for date nights? What about daycare options? Many daycares are on long waitlists. These important considerations will help with planning and communication as childcare needs arise and help your relationship stay on track with much-needed breaks from parenting responsibilities.
Outline Financial priorities
This will most likely come up as childcare needs are outlined but coming to an agreement about how much you’ll be saving for everything from diapers to formula to college is important to discuss. This also enables you to change your lifestyle now, if needed, to start preparing for the financial responsibilities that will be evident once baby arrives. Money is often one of the biggest issues couples argue over, so setting a budget and spending guidelines could go a long ways in making this transition to life with kids easier on your relationship.
Get honest about the help you’ll need
You might be fairly independent and your partner and you don’t need additional support now, for the most part. But, life will change with baby. The house will be a mess, everyone will be tired, and you’ll need groceries, dry cleaning picked up, the dog walked, etc. Don’t let life today be an indicator for how much you can take on as life with a little one is unexpected and changes daily. Consider how you can prep food ahead of time, or even order from a meal delivery service. Plan how you’ll divide the household chores and balance baby duties. Many little ones don’t want to be put down and might not sleep through the vacuum cleaner. Think about how you can plan ahead, take turns with chores and obligations beyond baby, and still provide one another a much-needed break.
Make a plan for self-care
Self-care will be essential to not only making you a better parent, but a good partner too. Talk about the support and resources you’ll need to make self-care a reality. Perhaps this is a Sunday afternoon babysitter so you can both have time for yourself, or a new yoga membership that has classes that fit better into your new schedule with baby. Determine what makes you feel rejuvenated and communicate those needs now so you can plan for them as baby arrives. Taking care of self will be essential to keeping your relationship strong.
We as a society often prepare for marriage with counseling and active conversations, and why not do this for parenting as well? Having the difficult conversations now when you are more rested to learn about one another’s preferences and boundaries is essential to keeping your partnership strong. Note topics in which you are in alignment and those that will be a potential point of conflict. Therapy can be a great place to sort through some of these differences. Children are hard on any relationship, and also can be life’s greatest gift. Set yourself up for as much success as possible.
If you’d like to talk more about the preparation needed for successful parenting, contact the team at Center for Shared Insight for a free consultation. We are also available to support postpartum needs as they arise.