Finances, housework and intimacy typically aren’t high on the list of talking points related to expecting a baby. And although a new addition is an exciting time for families, the family dynamics do change.
Whether it’s your firstborn, your second or your third, fourth or fifth, adding another child to the mix can affect a lot. I’m talking about families’ work and home schedules. I’m talking about sleep patterns and finances. And I’m talking about couples’ intimacy.
The best way to get ready for these changes is to plan. Couples should talk about every aspect of their lives, and how they’ll adjust. If a new baby will soon be joining your family, here are some of the things I urge you to make time to talk about before that much-anticipated arrival:
6 important topics for new parents (and experienced parents) to talk about before baby arrives
1. Planning your finances as parents
Adding a baby to the family will likely increase family expenses. If you’re going to be first-time parents, determine what essentials you’ll need to purchase – like a crib, car seat, stroller and clothes. Budget for increased health insurance premiums and copays for doctor visits. And if you and your partner both work outside the house, be sure to factor in daycare costs.
2. Going back to work after the baby
Working parents need to talk through the return-to-work transition. Some of the important questions to ask your partner about parenting together include:
- Who will do daycare drop-off and pick-up? And will one parent need to leave the house or work earlier to make things work?
- Who will your baby’s doctor be and where is their clinic located? You’ll want to consider choosing a clinic that’s convenient to get to, since your baby will have at least six routine checkups before he or she even turns one year old!
- How will we adjust our family’s schedule? For example, will the baby’s naptime interfere with your older child’s soccer practice? Prioritize family time over too many scheduled activities. My husband and I had a one sport and one music activity per kid rule with our three children. And that really worked for us.
3. How to tell a sibling about the new baby
Introducing your new baby to their sibling or siblings is a big event – and it can be overwhelming for your older kiddos. Be intentional about involving your older children in the process. Let them pick out a new toy for the baby. Or, have them come to a prenatal visit and hear baby’s heartbeat. Parents can take older children to the park, a movie or even to the grocery store to ensure bonding time with them doesn’t get shorted with the new baby.
4. Dividing household chores
In the first few weeks after baby arrives, focus on connecting with your new addition and bonding with your family. Eat and sleep, but don’t worry about the thank-you notes or keeping the house clean. And try to limit your errands, particularly if you’ve had a cesarean section and can’t drive for two weeks. Ask family and friends for help. Really, don’t be shy about this. In most cases, they want to help. They just need reassurance from you, the new parents, that they’re not intruding.
5. Making a sleep schedule as new parents
Before the new baby arrives, parents should agree on their routine for during-the-night awakenings and other responsibilities. Will the parents take turns getting up to feed and change the baby? What will they do when baby won’t take a bottle? Whatever your family decides, it’s important to make sleep a priority. Sometimes tag teaming is best because if everyone is sleep deprived, that’s hard.
6. How to get intimacy back after having a baby
Let’s be honest; intimacy is complicated after the arrival of kids. There’s less time, less energy and less opportunity for spontaneity. So, many people fear these changes will cause relationship strain after having a baby. Some even have moments of loneliness or feeling unloved during pregnancy.
Intimacy is more than sex. It’s about connection. And one of the best ways you can avoid any stress or strain is to be intentional and communicative with one another about connecting with each other.
Schedule date nights. Hire a babysitter or swap babysitting with friends. Be sure to plan time for just the two of you, when interruptions are unlikely and you’re not too tired.
Got a lot on your mind? Start small
Whether it’s your first or your fifth, expecting a baby means you’re probably thinking about a lot of things. And if it feels overwhelming, remember that it’s okay to ask for help. You also don’t have to take care of every part of preparation right now. Taking small steps when you can is still progress and can help you be ready when the big day comes. A good place to start is making sure that you’ve chosen a doctor for your baby.