You. Are. Only. One. Person. And I say that in the most loving way possible! You can't be and do everything. Support during this time is very important and establishing this before the baby is born will make all the difference in the world. Today we are going to talk about the value in connecting with and having a parenting plan with your partner. Married or not, you did not get pregnant on your own. The two of you will be and should be parenting together (we will talk in another post about what to do if the father is not involved).
First of all, it's important to focus on the couple relationship and shore that up before the often-rocky first year of parenting hits. A stressful relationship can certainly foster the feeling of not being supported and going it alone. “The year following childbirth is one of the most stressful times in relationships; couples who haven’t adequately prepared for the hardships of parenting in terms of logistics, child-rearing philosophies and financial issues are more likely to experience conflict and relationship stress.” So, how can you prepare your relationship?
One, build strong communication skills with your partner before the baby arrives. Communication is the key to being and feeling supported. Everything that follows is going to hinge on this. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate!
Two, know each other's "child duty" expectations. Discuss chores, feedings, work schedules, diaper changes, etc. For one, talking about it acknowledges the fact that life won't be the same and each of you will have new responsibilities. In addition, it creates a "team" atmosphere for parenting so that you're not doing everything yourself. And last of all, it establishes the need for support from the beginning which removes the element of surprise once the baby arrives. Did someone say communication?
Three, "identify and reconcile individual values surrounding parenting before the baby is born". Reaching an agreement on parenting topics is far more difficult when you’re stressed and sleep-deprived! When you’re visualizing and preparing your parenting plans, add your baby to the picture. Think about traditions you’d like to share, lessons you’d like to teach, songs you’d like to sing, etc., and then communicate these with your partner. Remember when I said EVERYTHING would come down to communication????? It's true!
Finally, revert back to last week's blog. Remember the whole: "Be kind to yourself! This whole parenting thing isn't easy. Lower the bar....and then maybe lower it again"! Take it seriously. Even the best communicators in the best relationships are going to feel unsupported at times. Give yourself a break. Give your partner a break.
Fortunately, the PLC Health Clinic's staff can help you navigate a supportive plan with your partner. Through personal experiences, training, and our educational classes, we are ready to help you and your partner have a strong, supportive parenting plan in place. If you're a client already, feel free to schedule a class now. If you're not, schedule an intake and get involved. What are you waiting for? It'll be the best decision you make today!
Resources available upon request.