When two becomes three

Before, you were a couple. Now, you’re proud parents. Parenthood does change lives .

To start with the obvious, you probably won’t get enough sleep in the early months of your baby’s life. Your newborn may at first sleep only for a few hours and when your baby is up, you’re up too. Sleep deprivation can make you irritable and turn tasks like household chores into ordeals. You’ll also have less time for work, for yourself, and for your partner.

It’s all in the approach
Though being a new parent is a wonderful feeling, sometimes it can be really difficult and stressful. Remember that it’s okay to want — and to take — a break from the baby every once in a while. Moreover, you and your partner may realise you have different approaches to parenting. One might be more inclined to pick up the baby whenever he or she cries, but the other may not. Also, trouble spots, such as who does more work around the house, can get worse if new parents don’t sit down and talk about what’s bothering them.

Talk it out
Communication is the best tool to defuse anger and prevent arguments. As new parents don’t get so caught up in caring for the baby that you forget to take time to talk to each other. Small annoyances will only grow when not brought out in the open. Hence, make time to communicate. Often, a misunderstanding can easily be cleared up. All it takes is seeing things from the other person’s point of view. If something is bothering you, tell your partner, but make sure you do it at the right time. Starting a discussion about who left the dirty dishes when the baby is screaming to be fed will solve nothing. Instead, plan a time to sit down together after the baby is asleep. Be honest with each other, but try to maintain a sense of humour.

Listen to your partner’s concerns and don’t criticise them. Importantly, keep in mind that sleep deprivation and stress can make you feel more irritable, so it may take extra effort to curb any tendency to be snappy. Once you’ve both spoken out, work on solving issues together. Come up with solutions you both can accept, but be willing to compromise too. Becoming new parents is also the time to ‘assign’ baby care and household duties, like cooking, laundry, and early-morning feedings. When both partners know what’s expected of them, the household will run more smoothly.

Find time together
Even though your baby has made you a family of three, the two of you still need time together as a couple. The best way to find that time is to plan for it. Try to make a regular weekly "date". If you don’t want to leave the baby with a sitter make a special dinner at home after you put the baby to bed. Staying up after the baby is sleeping can also give you time to connect daily.

Keep aside at least 20 minutes a day — maybe while doing the dishes or as you get ready for bed — to talk and share feelings. Get out of the house on weekends and do something as a family. Even daily family walks let you grab a little time together while your baby enjoys a ride in the stroller. Use your creativity to find a way to spend time together that works for you. Whether it is meeting for lunch while a willing grandparent watches the baby or playing a game of cards before bed, ‘together time’ is important.

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