It is important for couples to openly discuss their roles within the home and outside the home. These roles can dramatically change once a baby comes along.
Three areas of major change in time-demands include:
- paid work,
- house work, and
- daily infant care.
Parenting as a team
Communicating openly and staying flexible can help to reduce the stress of parenting in the early years. This will make the whole experience more enjoyable.
Most new parents feel a bit ‘all over the place’. They often feel excited and proud about the new baby, but equally overwhelmed and exhausted by the whole process and the amount of work involved.
Many parents may be confused and not really know what they think or feel about it all. There is no right or wrong way to feel. All responses at these times are natural. However, it is important to pay attention to each other’s wellbeing following the arrival of your child.
Socialising – even when you or your partner go back to work
Once you or your partner go back to work, keeping up your social life may become even more difficult.
If your partner goes back to work and you are at home alone with your baby and perhaps your other children, try to:
- Have friends around or join a playgroup. This way you won’t feel so alone.
- Try to have a rest when your baby is sleeping. Try not to fall into the trap of thinking this is the time you can get everything done.
- When your partner gets home from work, ask them to join you with the baby to sit outside or in the garden. Let them take over with the baby for a while so that you can relax and do something you want to do.
- Encourage your partner to do things with the baby when they come home, like bathing or feeding.
If it is you who has gone back to work, you may enjoy having more variety in your life and other things to think about. But equally, you may feel guilty about leaving your baby with someone else. You may feel stressed at having to do so much extra work, and concerned that you’re not as focused on your work as you used to be.
Try to remember that parenting is a journey and that there is no right or wrong answer to your unique situation.
Parents working away
You may be one of the many families who have a partner who works away in a fly in fly out (FIFO) role or a drive in drive out (DIDO) role. More information can be found at Parents who work away.
Want to know more?
Raising Children Network – Grown-ups: going back to work
Raising Children Network – Relationships with extended family in your blended family
Raising Children Network – Blended families and stepfamilies
Raising Children Network – New baby: helping school-age children and teenagers adjust