The arrival of a baby can feel like a magical time, an exciting journey into parenthood. And with the new arrival comes the expectation of sleepless nights, endless bottle feeds, and a mountain of nappies. But, what isn’t expected is for your relationship to break down.
Parenting is an overwhelming journey. Emotions are heightened, and with tiredness comes an increase in irritability, reducing your ability to function. Furthermore, values can change. The focus is on ensuring your baby is happy and healthy. But at what cost? Some report a feeling of a loss to their identity, cut off from their old habits and lifestyle.
What’s more, the looming fear of parental leave ending and returning to work can bring about anxiety. If one partner remains home whilst the other returns to work, parenting can feel one-sided. Some feel the pressure for both partners to return to work, given the rising costs of living. Which can bring about guilt for leaving your child. This means quality time as a couple becomes less important, and communication can break down.
Raising a child requires teamwork and communication can go a long way with supporting this. Communicating with each other can help you understand your partner better, and also help them understand you better. In this way, you can relate more easily and appreciate each other's motivations and thoughts, which goes a long way towards bringing a couple closer again. Note questions to ask your significant other. If you’re unhappy in a relationship express those feelings in a way that is still respectful of the relationship.
For instance, parenting techniques and styles can differ between partners depending upon your upbringing. But, one parent punishing a child on an activity whilst another parent encourages it can cause frustration. Not only for the adult but the child. The child can become confused, and this may even lead to behavioural issues later on in life. Discuss your family values with your partner. What priorities do you have when raising your child. This builds the foundations for you working in equal partnership.
As children grow and parental leave ends, finding quality family time can be difficult. But family time is important. It creates a strong emotional bond, improves communication skills and builds memories. Quality family time can even prevent or decrease potential behavioural issues in children.
But how? Planning family time is one way. Anything from a movie night to a day out to the beach. Keep your child(ren) involved. Let them pick some activities so that everyone gets a chance to share their interests.
But don't feel pressured to fill your calendar with activities. Spending time with family shouldn't feel like a chore. Plan family downtime. This can be as simple as reading a book together on an evening. Activities that don't require any physical or mental exhaustion.
Spending quality time together as a couple is just as important as spending quality time together as a family. But balancing this can be difficult. Here are some useful tips to think about:
- Set time aside once a month. Take turns to decide what to do. This ensures you both have a chance to decide on activities you will enjoy.
- The little things count. Plan to have a meal together one night a week once the children are in bed. Emphasise with children the importance of having alone time to minimise distractions - where possible!
- Communicate with each other. Remember, this doesn't have to be a large display of affection. Leaving love notes around the house can spark a connection. Not the lovey-dovey type? A simple joke, a challenge, a puzzle, something that makes your partner laugh will provide a boost of serotonin.
Remember the phrase, ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’? To take care of your family you must first ensure you have taken care of yourself. Therefore making time for YOU is essential. Plan your day to include elements of the things you enjoy. Anything from watching your favourite TV program to reading a book. Choose the activities that make you happy.
If you’re struggling and don’t wish to seek professional support, try to build a support system around you but one that is outside of the home. This could be friends, or relatives. Somewhere you can get away to recharge.
If your relationship has been under stress recently, you may well find yourself benefiting from couple counselling. This is a talking therapy where you can chat freely and openly about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour within a relationship. This can often help you understand your partner better, and also help them understand you better. In this way, you can relate more easily, and appreciate each other’s motivations and thoughts, which goes a long way towards bringing a couple closer again. This counselling also helps you communicate more effectively between each other, allowing you to express your needs and expectations.
To find out more on how couples counselling can support you, get in touch today on 07305 920 437.
Life is a juggling act. Managing work commitments with family commitments can be difficult. Take a look at the following article, which provides tips from fellow parents on managing their responsibilities.