The nursery is set up, the new baby clothes are washed and folded nicely in the drawers, and the hospital bag is packed, you and your partner are all set for this life changing journey to begin! In addition to being physically prepared for your baby’s arrival, there is so much more to parenthood than just a fresh stack of diapers and itty bitty baby socks. While in the midst of those newborn days, tensions might be high and sleep will be desperately low, communicate with your partner now to avoid some of these ‘new parent’ arguments down the line. 

1. Who is responsible for what:

Take the time now to talk through some of those new chores you will have as parents. Decide who will be in charge of what, but also be flexible in knowing that these plans might (and most likely will) change and adapt as you both learn your new roles. Maybe your partner will take on washing and preparing baby bottles, you might decide that you’ll be the expert laundry-doer; loosely decide on roles, but remember at the end of the day you two are partners and both equally responsible for your new baby and the extra housework that comes along with it. 

2. Establish a nighttime routine:

“The days are long, but the years are short” … and those newborn nights are even longer. Communicate about how you expect the nights to go. Who will get the baby when he/she cries? Will you both get up and tend to the baby? Will one parent be responsible for the baby for a few hours, while the other one catches up on sleep and then you switch? Will one partner be in charge of changing the diapers, while the other parent does the night feedings? Discuss what you’re thinking but be flexible, because not everything goes as planned and not every night will be exactly the same. 

3. Have a plan for when someone needs a break:

That new baby bliss will eventually turn into bags under the eyes, and it is absolutely okay to begin to feel overwhelmed. No matter how you have decided to split up the chores of the house, or whatever your plan is for nighttime routines, there will be days you just need a break. Your child’s safety is always, always the number one priority. If you are too tired to safely care for your child, or if the tears (from both you and baby) have not stopped in hours and you are tapped out, communicate this with your partner. If someone needs a break, take it. If someone needs to take a nap for an hour, do it. You are a team now, and you both need to be prepared to safely and properly care for your newborn. 

4. Set clear expectations early:

In addition to discussing your expectations of the roles you will each have in parenthood, communicate the expectations you each have for your new life in general. Whether these expectations are weekly date nights or having the dishwasher loaded every night before bed, discuss all aspects of your routine together. How long do you expect your partner to be out of work for maternity/paternity leave? Are you expecting home cooked dinners every night? Set clear expectations early, but again, be prepared for these expectations to change and adapt as you do. It’s okay to expect one thing from your partner with a 3 day old, and then expect something totally different with a 6 week old. Be flexible, your baby’s needs will change and yours will too. 

5. Constant communication:

The overarching theme here is communication. Talk to each other, and talk to each other often. Your postpartum emotions will be a roller coaster, if you’re feeling particularly sad one moment, tell your partner. If you know you were supposed to cook dinner one night, but just couldn’t muster up the energy and want to order pizza, tell your partner. If you need help catching up on laundry, if you need to go take a walk and be alone for a little bit, if you notice the dishes are piling up, if you just want to cry and have no idea why…tell your partner. You two are in this together. Strong communication creates a strong foundation, and that is what your baby deserves. 

Know what you each need and expect from each other, and it will help avoid major arguments in the future. Prepare your home and prepare your partnership. There will be curveballs, it wouldn’t be parenthood without some, so as much as you do prepare…prepare to be flexible too. Congratulations to you on your new journey, it is going to be a beautiful, wild ride!

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