How to work out a win-win ap­proach to par­ent­ing with your part­ner:

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Cover Story -

Ex­pect to be over­whelmed. Ac­tively par­ent­ing takes up to 100 hours a week. Any­one would be ex­hausted by that.

Dis­cuss your ideas about par­ent­hood be­fore the baby is born. What are your hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions? How would you like to share roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties? It’s best if you are in gen­eral agree­ment about these things in ad­vance.

Once the baby is born, share the work­load as much as you can, es­pe­cially when it comes to night feeds. If possible, fol­low a night-on, night-off ap­proach. If this isn’t possible, the part­ner who gets to sleep should try to pick up the slack else­where, by cook­ing or do­ing the wash­ing.

Be­friend your in-laws. Hav­ing a granny or grandad who is will­ing to babysit so that you can en­joy a night out to­gether is worth its weight in gold.

Take some time by your­self too. Go for a walk. Take a bath. Read a book. Feel­ing good about your­self means you will have more en­ergy to de­vote to your re­la­tion­ship.

Don’t as­sume that in­ti­macy means full pen­e­tra­tive sex and noth­ing less. Close­ness is what’s im­por­tant at this time and a gen­tle kiss, a re­lax­ing back rub or a shared bath can work won­ders on reestab­lish­ing your bond as a cou­ple.

Hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion is im­por­tant. Take time ev­ery day or at least ev­ery week to touch base and to see what’s hap­pen­ing in each other’s lives.

Try to bear in mind that you’re both on a learn­ing curve. Nei­ther of you has done this be­fore and you’re both learn­ing on the job, un­der very stress­ful cir­cum­stances. Try to sup­port each other along the way.

Do not be afraid to ask for help if you’re strug­gling. Even one or two ses­sions of pro­fes­sional coun­selling can help to bring you closer and make you stronger as a par­ent­ing team.

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