From daycare to food choices, as a new parent you'll be making lots of new decisions over how you wish to raise your child. Sure, many will be made along the way, but there are debates you and your partner may want to settle before your baby comes home.
Below are a number of the big and little things to iron out -- steadily and regularly -- giving yourselves adequate time to discuss the pros and cons of different approaches. Thinking about what’s best for your family can help smooth your ride into parenthood.
Why talk about these things now?
While the modern day soon-to-be parent is well-equipped with pregnancy blogs, birth plans, and fierce insta-mum inspo, there’s often little consideration put into the actual experience of being a parent - what will your new arrival mean financially, emotionally, professionally and logistically?
Having a first child is a huge adjustment for anyone. The magnitude of your new role may at times feel overwhelming and you may find yourself feeling particularly exhausted after giving birth. And if you’re adding to your brood, there’s often lots to think about in terms of fitting another bundle of joy into your lives.
To preserve your own health and wellbeing, as well as that of your family’s, it’s best for you and your partner to open the communication lines and make sure you’re both on the same page.
How to get the conversation flowing
There are a lot of practical considerations to be made when welcoming any new resident into the home, let alone a newborn baby. To avoid the stress of last minute planning, it’s important you and your partner get down to the specifics before baby arrives. Here’s a list of questions to get you started:
- What kind of support does your partner want during childbirth?
- Where will the baby sleep?
- What things can each of you take the lead on? There will be plenty of work to go around!
- What role will you play in overnight feeds?
- How will your lifestyle change after baby?
Having these decisions clear in your mind will make it easier to put them into practice. It will also help to ensure you’re not a one-man band and that your partner is engaged along the way.
READ MORE: Six week survival guide
How to address the big issues
Raising a child is a lifelong commitment and whilst some of the early decisions might be made easily, some topics will require some added attention. Topics such as how you will handle your finances or when you both will go back to work need to be agreed upon to be the strongest parenting team you can be. Your partner’s stance on these topics might differ to yours, so it’s a good idea to clarify where you both stand.
- How will you balance your duties as two parents? Is maternity and paternity leave a possibility for both of you?
- What values do you want to communicate most to your child as they grow up?
- Will you send your child to daycare?
- What are the areas you’re most likely to disagree on? Can you find a compromise?
- What can one of you you do to help pick up the slack when the other’s unable to?
- Will you raise your child in a religious household?
These can trigger challenging conversations, which are not always easy to navigate. If you haven’t already addressed these questions, it’s not too late. Start the conversation now and give yourself the freedom to digest each other’s views. Bridging big gulfs in opinion will be much easier without a crying newborn between you.
Conflict resolution tips
If you find you and your partner are butting heads, don’t suppress your frustrations. Speak up and let your voice be heard. Asking your partner frank and important questions will enable you to have an honest conversation on how you’re both doing and where there’s room for improvement.
If you’ve reached a total impasse, consider getting some advice or help from family or friends. In a recent study, it was revealed that 91% of Aussie parents had someone they trusted and could turn to for advice. Don’t hold back in finding this person for yourself. Having someone to listen to you and give an outsider’s perspective might just do the trick.
If emotional problems persist after bub arrives and you or your partner are having difficulty communicating, you could consult a health professional. Alternatively, beyondblue’s parent support services can give you helpful advice on where to turn.
Last but not least, be realistic. No matter how many mothering books you read, caring for a new baby will be hard work at times. Fact. The most important thing is that you can be open with your partner as you experience the highs and lows together as a team.
READ MORE: Discussing parenting styles