You’ve decorated the nursery, picked out a name, and are headed home from the hospital. You’re parents. Life will never be the same, and though the addition of a newborn is exciting and full of joy, it can also be overwhelming and downright stressful (trust me–I have a 7 month old)! How do you keep your relationship strong while dealing with poopy diapers, middle of the night feedings, and overbearing in laws?
1. Have a good support system. Whether your support is your partner, a family member, or a friend, it is essential to have help. Having a shoulder to cry on (and yes, the “baby blues” DO happen!), someone to make dinner, or just someone to watch the baby so you can take a shower, can go a long way for your mood.
2. Ask for help. Your friends and family WANT to help-they just might not know where to start or what to do. They can’t read your mind so you will need to be upfront–and that’s okay!
3. Have some alone time. I can’t stress this enough. Some new parents might feel that they need to be with their baby 100% of the time. While I am not disregarding that belief, I am saying that it is healthy to want some “me time”. A 15 minute shower, a walk around the block, or just some quiet time to paint your nails may be all it takes to reset your battery. You need that time, and your baby will thank you-you will be less stressed and well rested.
4. Have date nights. This is another biggie that marriage counselors often recommend. My husband and I try to go at least twice a month, starting from the time the baby was about six weeks old (and yes, we called to check in on her every hour). The one on one adult interaction, and making sure to limit how much you gush over the baby, is imperative to keeping your relationship strong.
5. Affection and acknowledgment. Hugs, kisses, “I love you”s, and “thank you”s will go a very long way with both partners. Affection releases endorphins which raise our mood, and hearing those simple words from one another just makes you feel good.
Finally, if you feel like the addition of your newborn is just too much to handle on your own, or those “baby blues” just aren’t going away after a few weeks, make sure to reach out to a local therapist who can help.