How Our Relationship Changed After Having A Baby (or two)
This topic was a reader request some time ago, but I wanted to wait until Remy came along to really dive into how our relationship changed after having a baby. I’m glad I did, because there are things that came along with baby number two that weren’t as much of an issue after number one.
I was going to make this more of a general post, but then realized that every relationship and every home situation is different. What works for us may not work for someone else and vice versa.
Here is our home situation: Neil and I both work from home. His job requires several work calls a day, some on video, some not. His schedule is not the same every day, so there is some flexibility of free time. I also work from home, but because I work for myself, I have far more flexibility. Although I do make an income from this site and social media, during this stage of life, my primary job is to raise the kids and take care of many things around the house. I work when I can, which is usually in spurts throughout the day or when Miles is at daycare. Speaking of that, he currently goes three days a week and the days he is home are mainly focused on him and Remy since there’s little time for much else. I know not everyone has the privilege to send their children to daycare or work from home, so this is just a friendly reminder not to compare or feel negatively about any of this.
Obviously, with the addition of a helpless newborn, there was less time for just the two of us. When Miles was small, it wasn’t as big of an issue, but as he got older and required more supervision and parenting, the time became less. Add a second child into the mix and there was very little. What helped was being intentional about the time that we did have, which tended to be in the evenings after the kids went to bed. Rather than always watching TV or movies (which is still something I love), we tried to make it a point to just talk and connect with each other. I think that helped a lot when we started to feel distant.
Of course, this isn’t always perfectly executed and some nights I feel out touched and would rather be alone (I’m an introvert – can you tell?), and that’s ok too. Which leads me to the role that communication has had post-kids.
Realized the importance of communication (even more)
This is probably the biggest and most important one. Communication is so important in ANY relationship, so my advice if you are in one and eventually want to have children is to work on it now. Once kids come into the mix, there isn’t as much time to work on it and things can escalate quickly.
Neil is the type of person who needs to be explicitly told things. As romantic as it may seem to have someone read your mind and just do the things you’re thinking about, it rarely works that way. I learned early on that I needed to tell him things directly, like “I need you to get the stroller ready” or “I really need sleep and I need you to do the night shift tonight.” It’s also important to note that while I was pregnant with Miles, we decided that I would be the primary caregiver for him. At that time, Neil still had to go into the office for work and we had decided that I would stay home and not train clients for the foreseeable future (my decision), so we didn’t want both people to be sleep deprived if it wasn’t necessary. This was also an important communication decision because it set up expectations and had us start on the same page.
When things aren’t clearly communicated, it breeds resentment. I may think that it should be evident that I’m overwhelmed and need help, but that’s not always the case. Rather than sit and stew in my feelings, it’s much easier to say “I’m feeling overwhelmed – can you please help with x, y, z?”
This is a big way our relationship changed after having a baby. Where I used to do most of the household duties, after two kids it really became about who was able to do what and when. I’ve always been notoriously bad at picking up clutter and before, Neil would just remind me over and over again until I finally did it. He still does that, but there are now many times when he knows that I also lack the time in addition to the motivation (ha), so while I am putting Miles to bed or otherwise occupied, he will do a quick sweep of the downstairs and tidy everything up. It’s helped me feel much less overwhelmed.
As I mentioned earlier, with Miles it was understood that I was his primary caregiver. Once Remy came along, I realized that I couldn’t always watch her and chase after Miles, so Neil took over watching her during those times. If he is working, I will often keep them both close by, but it’s been a tremendous help if I need to run and get Miles from daycare or physically go running myself for my mental health.
To those of you who are more spontaneous, this one may be a struggle, but for my type A planning brain, it’s something that I thrive on. Coordinating outings or even just home life with two children requires planning. Carving out time with your partner requires planning. Showering requires planning. I’ve been a big planner my whole life, so this just means more of it. I don’t do well with change or spontaneity (although I do make an effort), so this was actually ok with me.
You can probably gather the advice that I would give after reading how our relationship changed after having a baby, but to put it in a more succinct view, here are the big ones:
- Plan who is going to do what, with some wiggle room fit in
- Be intentional about setting aside time for the two of you (to talk, to just be, sex, intimacy, etc.)
- Discuss parenting decisions
- Set boundaries with family and friends as a team if you need to
- Remember that these are seasons in life that will change in time
Parents: has your relationship changed after having a baby? Let me know in the comments!