We know you’ve heard it all before but having a baby (really) is one of the biggest strains on your relationship with your partner. The sleepless nights and round the clock care can mean you have little time or energy to devote to each other and that’s before you even consider whether or not you might have differing opinions on how to parent. Inevitably there will be topics where your opinions differ as new parents, and you’ll want to make sure that you’re on the same page (as much as possible). These are things to discuss before baby arrives. Let’s be honest, trying to have a sensible, and at times passionate or emotional, conversation about how to raise your new little one isn’t best suited to 3am when you’re sleep deprived, stressed and trying to figure out the basics.
Our advice? Sit down together with a cuppa and run through this list of questions before time and energy becomes a precious commodity. Here are the top topics our team thinks are really important to discuss with your partner before your baby arrives…
Things to Discuss With Your Partner BEFORE Baby Arrives
- What are our hopes for feeding?
This (along with sleep but more on that later) can sometimes be an incredibly emotional topic when it comes to raising your little one so it’s crucial to have this conversation ahead of time. Whether you choose to breastfeed, bottle feed, introduce formula, adopt a combination of the two, or change your approach many times, you have to do what’s best for you and your baby. If you’re planning to breastfeed, it can be really helpful to discuss this before baby arrives with your partner so that you can both learn as much as possible. They’ll need to support you and pick up more slack elsewhere!
- What’s the plan for night waking?
Who’s getting up at night when your little one (not so quietly) stirs? This may change based on the outcome of your discussion about feeding. If you’re choosing to breastfeed, Mum will have to be up at 3am when it’s feeding time. Would you prefer your partner to wake with you and keep you company (not to mention awake, for safety reasons)?
There’s also boring yet practical considerations; if your partner is going to become the main breadwinner (however, temporarily) how much rest do they need so they can be fully present at work? Don’t forget though – caring for a baby all day is work too and you also need to be alert. Coming up with a plan of action, even if it changes, ahead of time may stop those possible feelings of resentment creeping in so make this one of your top things to discuss before baby arrives.
- How will you plan your finances?
Adding a new member to the family will inevitably increase your expenditure and if you’re taking maternity leave, you’re likely to take a big dip in income. We’ve shared our top tips for saving for maternity leave here, but you’ll still need to add money to the list of things to discuss before baby arrives. Who will pay for what? How will you divide bills if your income has decreased? What about disposable income and money for things like classes, activities, toys and socialising?
- How do we keep the house from looking like a tip?
Nothing reshuffles other priorities like a newborn so it’s understandable that household chores take a back seat. In order to avoid fraught conversations about who last did the dishes or the washing, having a clear (fully rested) conversation about roles around the house can work wonders. Just remember to be understanding and flexible, you’re both shattered.
- When will you go back to work and what about childcare?
You may or may not have a clear end to your maternity leave. You may be self-employed and need to set some boundaries both with your partner and with yourself to ensure you feel supported as a working mother and ensure you don’t feel pressured to go back ‘too’ early. Once you know what your plan is (and do bare in mind that you might feel very differently when the baby actually arrives), you can make decisions about childcare. Before baby arrives, you and your partner should discuss whether you will use a nursery – do you need to sign up now? What about family, a child-minder or shared parental leave?
- What’s your expectation of your personal (non-baby) time?
Both of you will need time away from your little one. Fact. Some may need more than others, sooner than others and that’s just fine. It’s important to be honest with yourself (and each other) about how much time you realistically need for yourself in order to give the best parts of you to your new family. Making this one of your things to discuss before baby arrives means you can decide how you can support one another in this. Do you need a chance to go for a solo walk every day? Do they want to go to the gym 3 times a week? Would you like to get your nails done once a fortnight?
- How can we ensure we make time for each other?
A wonderfully wise friend once said, “You start as a two and you end as a two”. With this in mind it’s important to remember you both have needs just the same as you did prior to bringing this new life into the world and making sure to connect with each other as a couple as often as possible should be the key to a long happy, family life. Even things as simple as going for a walk together or holding hands can remind you that you’re still ‘you two’. Who can help support you with this? You may find you need to schedule ‘couple time’ in.