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5 Tips to Baby Proof Your Relationship

Baby's arrival can change your relationship for the better, not worse!

5 Tips to Baby Proof Your Relationship

Bringing home a baby is so big -- so full of newness and wonder -- that it is hard to imagine in advance. Ask any veteran parents what those first few weeks (or months) were like, and you’ll get some combination of profoundly amazing and hauntingly difficult. But one thing is sure: it is a time when your relationship, as strong as it may be, will be tested. Babies are super needy and require all of your attention. So it’s easy to forget about yourself and about each other when you both want to do things right for your newest bundle and invest your entire selves in this hard, learn-on-the-go job.

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But don’t you worry. Your relationship doesn’t have to suffer during this transition. Sure, these new experiences are challenging, but they are normal, and they will pass. Life will settle down, and there are certain things that you can do to move past the hurdle. Here are 5 tips to help you baby proof your relationship during the first few weeks with baby.

1. Create a postpartum plan. We often hear about the birth plan, but knowing what you want after the birth is also very important. Your postpartum plan is an opportunity to ask yourself and your partner some important questions. How will you take care of yourself after birth? What is it in your day that makes you feel restored and cared for? A walk outside or an unrushed shower? Make a list of your daily priorities, put it somewhere visible, and check in to make sure you take a few minutes daily to reconnect with yourself. If you feel renewed, you’ll have more to give to others.

Next, consider what you need from your partner to make those daily goals happen. Someone has to be on baby duty at all times, so plan to be there for each other in these small but important ways.

Also consider the role of family or friends. Will family or friends help or will they make things harder? Setting up boundaries is hard and can hurt relatives’ feelings, but having someone around who makes you feel anxious will ultimately make things harder. Play to each person’s strengths. Your best friend may be the person you cry to while your mom is the one who can make dinner as you feed the baby.

2. Let your partner fail. Did your partner forget the changing pad somewhere? Did she grab the wrong outfit for your first postpartum visit to grandma’s? Or maybe he doesn’t know how to sanitize pump parts? It’s ok. Step back and let your partner develop their own techniques for taking care of the baby; let your partner figure out baby’s world -- fail and learn. Not only will this build your partner’s confidence, it will also help your partner bond with your baby. The alternative? You take over and do it all. That may sound better short-term, but you’ll regret it later when you’re ready to grab coffee with friends and your partner hasn’t learned the ropes.

3. Don’t forget that your relationship is important. Your relationship is what got you into this mess! Don’t forget that you were once autonomous adults. Plan a date day or a date night. You don’t have a sitter? That’s okay. Plan 10 minutes together. Seriously, plan it. Get snacks, sit down and hang out with each other. Say hello to your autonomous adult selves again. Put in the time to be a couple again.

4. Timing is everything. Words can be hard when you’re tired, and we don’t always know the right thing to say. That’s okay. Small gestures make a big difference. A quick hug or an act of kindness will slow down the runaway train that leads to arguing. When we’re tired and stressed, our fight or flight response is easily triggered, which elevates heart rate and gives you an urge to be right. But it’s not about who’s right in that moment -- it’s only about the way you want the evening to go. So let go and revisit the disagreement later, when you’re both in a better place to actually listen.

5. You can have a healthy conflict. As hard as you may try, you will have conflict. But there are ways you can keep your conflict from becoming a catastrophe. When you use the word “I,” you are sharing what you need and what you’re feeling. Try this, “I feel overwhelmed with the baby.” Starting a statement with “you” on the other hand, like “You don’t understand what it’s like being here alone all day,” puts the other person on the defensive. So when you talk with your significant other, do it from your very own perspective, and listen for the other person's needs and feelings. You may find that conflict leads to connection. You can also use positive reinforcement and acknowledge the hard work you've both put in. And don’t forget to say thank you. It goes a long way.

Evelyn Gama is a licensed therapist in NYC specializing in pregnancy and early childhood. Evelyn’s best adventures though are as a mom to her own two little ones on the UWS.

Laura Vladimirova is a full-time NYC-based birth doula, Maternal Health Policy MSW student and International Board Certified Lactation intern. When she’s not attending births or supporting families postpartum, she’s fostering dogs and spending time with her family.

Photography by Laura Vladimirova, of bebebirthphotography.com.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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