No matter how organised you are, nothing prepares you for the emotional impact of a new baby.
Many couples focus so much on the pregnancy and birth, they don’t think about just how much things will change between them once the little one comes along.
After a lifetime of independence, domestic bliss can take a bit of getting used to. Settling into new roles takes time and even the strongest of couples can feel the strain, so here are some tips to help you really plan for what might lie ahead.
Division of chores
You might have rubbed along nicely with equal roles before now, but there’s nothing like a baby to bring out your inner housewife.
“Stereotyped ideas of how families ought to operate die hard,” says Babyshock! author Elizabeth Martyn. It can be more difficult than you think to escape from traditional roles, and when mums give up work they can sometimes feel as if they’ve been lumbered with tasks that were once shared.
A mum's view
Bounty mum Carolyn confides, “I find it a struggle doing everything myself. He just doesn’t understand how hard it can be at times for me, being alone. It sounds pathetic, but we argue about little things."
The expert view
Elizabeth Martyn says “Imbalances which leave one partner feeling aggrieved or unfairly treated can be very destructive. Tell your partner how you feel and do your best to work together towards a compromise that gives you back some level of control within the relationship.”
What to do
Make time to talk when you can discuss things calmly and listen to each other’s point of view. It’s no use approaching the subject when you’re surrounded by a tower of dishes and a screaming baby.
Agree to split chores so you both know what is expected of you. “Write a list of weekly chores and then divide them up,” says Relate counsellor Christine Northam. It will become obvious who can do what most easily so do make sure that you both have a fair degree of inconvenience to even things up.”
Take the day off! Why not hand over the baby to dad for a day, so he can see how much work is actually involved, and that you’re not just complaining over nothing.
Looking after a baby is a full-time job, but if you’ve always worked for a living and are used to managing your own money, it can be difficult to adjust to not earning.
Here are a few issues that might crop up, and some tips on how to resolve them.
- Now you don't have the financial firepower will you still have an equal say when it comes to money?
- Some women find it tricky having to ask for cash for luxuries like make-up or new clothes.
- Your partner might feel under pressure from shouldering the financial responsibility for the whole family.
“Mum and dad will both be under financial pressure if the loss or suspension of one salary occurs. However, as Dad may be the one to keep things ticking over, he may well feel under a new kind of pressure where it all hinges on him for the time being,” says Christine Northam.
Time to talk
Money can be a major cause of rows, but can also give you a great opportunity to start working as a team, so sit down and talk, and you just might find it brings you closer together.
- “It’s essential that you talk about money,” says Northam. Hoping for the best just won’t do, so you need to sit down with paper and pen and make definite decisions about how money is to be allocated – together.”
- It’s never too late to start working as a team to start making financial decisions together. Agree a spending and saving plan so you know who’s spending what.
- How you feel about money often relates to your experience as a child, and rows are often more about underlying issues that never get resolved. “Ask yourself what it is that you would really like to say,” advises Babyshock! author Elizabeth Martyn. “Is there a way to say it that is helpful, and not confrontational? It only takes one person to break the mould for arguments to take on a different pattern.”