You might have heard it said that when a newborn baby arrives, life as you know it will get blown right out the window. But is it true? And can one maintain a certain semblance of normalcy in life, even after baby enters the picture?
Thankfully, anticipating some of the changes to your relationship, career and lifestyle would help greatly in easing yourself into the wonderful world of parenthood.
Grow Along With The Changing Relationship
There are definitely new relationship dynamics when two becomes three, and beyond the obvious (such as less couple time/romance), there might be deeper, intangible changes as well.
Says Mr Jonathan Siew, Centre Manager cum Senior Counsellor, Care Corner Counselling Centre: “Many women go through a subtle psychological transformation from a “girl” to a “mother” after giving birth, and this affects how they feel about themselves, as well as their behaviour. The husband may not be prepared for such a change and may feel very uncomfortable; yet they are not able to define the source of the discomfort. Hence, the relationship may start to change.”
He cautions that there is a danger of “the husband and wife drifting away from each other slowly.” To ensure your marriage stays healthy through this period of transition, Jonathan shares that “it would be good for couples to be aware of the possibility of such transformation and to talk to each other about how they feel about the changes.”
Communication is key to resolving most of the tensions that arise during the eventful early months of parenthood. Most importantly, each spouse should strive to understand the other’s needs.
A common trigger point of conflict would be disagreements on how things should be done. As per the oft-quoted cliché: men are from Mars and women are from Venus, husbands and wives can have totally differing ways of problem-solving and managing matters. Jonathan elaborates, “one may tend to be more detail-minded while the other is not; or one may wish to take more breaks in-between tasks, whereas the other prefers to finish everything at once.”
In times like this, it is important to remember that there is more than one right way of doing things, and as Jonathan sums up succinctly: “respecting each other’s differences is crucial.”
Harmonising Work & Family
One of the aspects of life that would be most impacted by a newborn’s arrival would be your career. Before having children, couples are at liberty to devote large amounts of time and energy towards their work. However, a major shift takes place once the parenthood journey begins. As such, it is important to cultivate good time management habits so that both work and family roles could be fulfilled.
For parents who plan to continue working after having a baby, staying organized and focused on important priorities during the workday is key to being efficient and effective. It is also helpful to avoid unnecessary distractions that steal away precious productive minutes, such as surfing the web, or making too many trips to the pantry. Being disciplined about time management at work will enable one to have more bonding-time with baby back home.
If one has the luxury of some flexibility at work, a good idea would be to leave the office as early as is permissible, and bring work home. This would make it possible to spend some quality time with baby in the early evening, and continue working after baby is tucked into bed for the night.
Finally, although many hope to continue investing 100% in their career, while at the same time devoting 100% of themselves to the family, such high expectations can create additional stress for new parents. It might be much kinder to oneself to simply acknowledge that there is a need to prioritise, and that one’s career might momentarily take a back seat in the first few years of parenthood.
The good news is, the sacrifices that either one or both parents would have to make are in the short-term, during the child’s early years where more attention, effort and commitment are required. As children grow older and more independent, it would then be possible to once again concentrate on career. In other words, parenthood does not have to mean giving up one’s career and aspirations completely, but merely re-thinking the timeframe that one needs to reach one’s goals.
Keeping Up the Fun Factor
Many couples have the impression that once you have a baby, “carefree fun” goes out the window entirely. Although it might be true that spontaneous weekend trips may be less likely, but with just a little bit of advanced planning, fun weekend activities and even family trips are still very do-able with baby in tow.
Simple outings or picnics at public parks or beaches around Singapore can provide hours of wholesome, healthy entertainment under the sun. More and more leisure and F&B establishments are also catering for families with children, making outings with baby a breeze.
Overseas trips do not have to become a thing of the past. In fact, usual holiday destinations might suddenly become refreshingly new as one seeks out different attractions and itineraries that are child-friendly and suitable for the entire family.
In other words, “fun” just takes on a different definition when baby’s on board! And although it might be true that life as you know it would be turned upside down, who’s to say the view isn’t better this way?
I Love Children would like to thank Mr Jonathan Siew, Centre Manager cum Senior Counsellor, Care Corner Counselling Centre for his contributions towards this article.