When I look at this photo I remember how exhausted we both were that day. It was taken at my brother in laws Walima and the little bubba was being super fussy and clingy (she was coming down with a cold). The look on our faces shows the lack of sleep and no time to relax for probably a month before because of my cousins wedding, sisters wedding and brother in laws wedding (if you know asian weddings you’ll know there are so many events leading up to it and after it). This was the last of them and we were just glad the family weddings were over for the year.
One thing no one really talks about when planning a family is how having a child effects you as a couple. Like all couples we had our ups and downs before having a baby but it was pretty easy going and carefree looking back at it now.
Having a baby changes things significantly. You’re overwhelmed with love for your little one but with that comes the lack of sleep, the exhaustion of caring for a human being that is solely dependent on you and the lack of time and energy you have for each other. Believe it or not, it’s easy for a mother to give all her time and attention to her child and for your husband to feel like you don’t love him as much or don’t have time for him anymore.
Realistically dressing up, going out and ‘date nights’ are going to be that much harder.
I’m not going to lie it’s not been easy and it still isn’t easy. There are arguments about who did the most, who washed the bottles the most, who got the most sleep and if you’re a stay at home mum you may have even heard the dreaded ‘I went out to work, you stayed at home all day’.
Some days I’m watching the clock and counting down the hours till hubby comes home just so he can take her off me and I can go to the toilet on my own. I actually think I would have gone crazy if I didn’t live with my in laws because having a child stuck to you day and night it mentally and physically draining, so the few minutes she stays with my mil or sil is a huge blessing.
There are often times hubby and I are living together but so busy with life that we don’t have time to even talk to each other, this builds tension and I find myself getting angry with him for little things (literally little things like the fluff of his socks coming off on to the rug…writing it out makes me sound crazy and he often thinks I am too when I nag him for these things).
The only way to prevent things building up so much is communication. Men are terrible at picking up hints and realising things for themselves so if something is bothering you, just tell him. Sometimes when I’m in a bad mood hubby just leaves me to it, after I’ve done nagging him and complaining he’ll ask ‘What can I do to make things better?’ and that just helps me to take a step back and actually evaluate what’s wrong and what I need him to help me with.
For example I’ve told him that after he comes home from work and freshened up, I need him to take her from me and allow me to be by myself for a little while, whether that’s lying in bed doing nothing, watching TV with a cuppa or taking a bath, I need him to be in a completely different part of the house so I am truly by myself. This helps me to unwind and recharge.
I’ve given him specific requests like on his days off he could do the morning routine of brushing her teeth and get her ready while I had a day getting ready in my own time.
Doing this has also helped me look at things from his point of view too he works hard outside the home, so I do the night routines, try to settle her in the night and do my best to ensure he has a proper sleep (although that’s not always possible). I make a conscious effort to be more empathetic with him and help him out when he needs it too.
Although it’s easier said than done, it’s really important to make time for each other as well. Even little things like watching a series on Netflix together or getting take out on his day off, gives you both something to look forward to. We often have sushi nights where we try to put the baby to sleep before getting some sushi to eat in our room. Now that our daughter is a bit older and more comfortable with other family members we plan to leave her with her aunts and grandparents and go out to do things that make us feel young again. Being a parent really makes you grow up and being a grown up can get boring. So experience outings like extreme trampolining, Top Golf, Go Ape or doing some sort of sport together will help freshen things up and change the routine of adulthood.
I’ve had girls tell me about wanting to have a baby but not being in a 100% stable position with their spouse. If there is one advice I can give is be completely sure of who you are as a couple, try and resolve any issues you have with each other and be completely happy with each other and the status of your relationship before planning to have children. Some might think a baby will fix their relationship, make their spouse take more responsibility and make more time for them but it’s more likely to do the opposite.
Having a baby is a huge strain on a relationship and if you don’t have a 100% supportive husband it only makes your life much harder. Enjoy your life together before the responsibilities of having a child and build the foundation on which your family will grow.
Be realistic and be prepared for the changes that will come with becoming a parent, speak to your husband about the things you expect from him and see if your ideas on parenting match up. Throughout the whole journey communicate communicate communicate.
Honestly parenting is a difficult 24/7 job, but it is easier and more enjoyable when both your spouse and you are on the same page, understand and support each other.