Earlier this week on Instagram and Facebook, I mentioned the lovely farmer who bought The New Mum’s Notebook for his wife, whilst on his tractor harvesting (it’s now on Amazon for a ludicrous £8). As well as the couple with the four month old baby, who I sat with in the pub on Sunday. Both examples of couples showing support and consideration towards one another, during the most challenging time of their lives. Parenthood. Eight years, three kids and one less husband on, I was totally impressed by this. So I thought I’d write something about being a kick a*** parenting team. (You can, of course, ignore this and think, ‘Well, what does she possibly know?’ She doesn’t even have a husband. But I hope you don’t and instead find it helpful.) **Not just for new parents. May also be useful if you’re older parents who have lost their way**
Be kind to one another. This tops the list every time, for me. It’s simple. It’s important. It can make up for a multitude of ‘sins’. To be honest? It doesn’t really matter if your other half never takes out the bin and always forgets to empty the dishwasher. If they tell you often that you’re doing a good job and they couldn’t do what you do, that’s enough, in my book. Partners, I’m not saying it’s easy for you, either. I know we can become a bit insane when we have babies. We’re really tired, not always sure what we’re doing and often, this baby lark is REALLY f*cking dull and relentless (yes, new mums, it’s totally ok to admit that). If you let us make it all about us for a while, when that baby comes along, if you remind us you love us and we’re awesome, I promise you, we’ll remember it. For the rest of time. Also, thanks for going to work and bringing the odd bag of giant chocolate buttons home.
Take out the bin. OK, so I lied a bit above. But it’s just really thoughtful when someone does something that you don’t then have to do. It’s always the little things, right?
Have sex. I don’t mean immediately. Obviously. Wait until you’ve left the hospital at least (joke). Seriously though, whilst you both need to feel ready, if you wait until your ‘baby’ is at university, you’ve waited too long. Sex connects. It’s what got you into this mess in the first place, remember? (PS some couples notice a direct correlation between the amount of times the bin gets put out and the amount of times they put out. Just saying.)
Don’t compete. Oldest parenting cliche in the book. But probably the most played out. Don’t. Go. There. You’re both tired. You’re both frazzled. You both dislike one another a bit (a lot) of the time. There are no winners here. It’s just a really crap game that makes you both feel lousy. Get out the Scrabble instead, if you really need to do something competitive.
Diffuse everything with laughter. Tricky, this one. Especially when you’re finding it hard to find anything funny. But laughing is up there with sex. It connects. Don’t take it all too seriously. Parenthood won’t always be this hard or intense.
Be on each other’s side. No one else is ever going to get your child like you both do. There is no one else who will love your child as much as you both do. Trust me. So bond over how much you love him or her. Bond over how much you wish they’d just go to flipping sleep, already. Bond over how irritating it is that they’ve just had a meltdown in the middle of Tescos. But be on each other’s side. Never blame one another. You made this person together. There IS no one else to blame. (Sorry to break that to you.)
Use banter carefully. If you’re a couple who liked to banter BC (before children), this can seriously backfire when you’ve had a baby. New (and old, tired) mums can be really sensitive and sometimes, we don’t get the ‘jokes’. They feel more like digs.
Go out. I’m not even going to say the phrase, ‘Date night’. It makes me want to hurl. BUT. Going out together is important. Don’t be that couple who wake up one day, realise that their kids are teenagers and they invested so little time in each other, they don’t have anything to talk about. I have friends with kids in very happy relationships because they always make time for one another and it shows. It really, really shows. If you don’t want to go out/don’t have a babysitter, have dinner indoors together. Bottle of wine, conversation and no TV or phones. Oh and don’t wait for the perfect time, or you’ll be waiting forever. You deserve to put each other first every once in a while. Partners often need this more than mums (from what they’ve told me) – to remember that they still mean something and to have their other half to themselves, for a change. No one said it has to be ALL about babies now, just because you’re parents.
Remember why you liked one another. Assuming that you did, of course and didn’t just create a life after twelve pints, four bottles of wine and 10 jagermeisters. No judgement. Focusing on that time before kids is a really good way of seeing yourselves through the challenging times. Go one better, and remember the little gestures you did for one another and reinstate them, occasionally.
Get a bit drunk together. It’s fun. It releases tension. Unless you get so drunk that you do no. 3 and get up the duff again. Oops.
Love the hell out of each other. No explanation needed. Most, if not all, of my friends have struggled at some point in their relationships post kids. But pretty much all of them are still together, because they love each other. Over and above everything else.
Do share this with your partner, new parents or anyone else who could do with a helping hand. There’s a whole chapter in The New Mum’s Notebook on relationships, as well as eleven other months (chapters) to see you through that first year of parenthood. On offer on Amazon now for £8 (usually £16.99).