It can be difficult to adjust to the new roles we seem to be assigned when a baby comes along, or even knowing what those roles are.
More often than not, dad goes back to work as the main breadwinner and mum stays at home.
After the birth and non-stop visitors, some semblance of a routine starts to set in and new parents start adapting to having this new, delightful but demanding little person in their lives.
And this is where some problems can start.
There is so much to do! Feeding the baby, changing the baby, bathing the baby, settling the baby, keeping on top of the housework and general life admin, trying to cook a somewhat nutritious meal, doctors and other health professional appointments…it can feel never ending. Not to mention the night feeds.
Who does what?
And who does what, exactly? Dad is out at work all day, isn’t that enough? Mum is home all day, so really she should be the one to manage all the house stuff + baby (shouldn’t she?).
Slowly but surely resentment starts to creep in…
“He gets to have a lunch break every day.”
“He gets to talk to other adults.”
“He gets to drink his coffee while it’s still WARM!”
So, what do you do with these feelings? Can you acknowledge them in some way? Can you have a constructive conversation with your partner, without blaming them or resenting them, or are there deeper issues going on?
Most women I speak to are quite shocked at how isolating it is being at home all day with a baby, and how no one really talks about this.
This gets even more tricky if the couple don’t have additional family members for support.
Mums, you can’t do it all. Please, please ask for support and let your partner know – it doesn’t mean you are weak, in fact admitting how hard it is, is a sign of strength.
I asked some mums about what they need most from their partners and this is what they said:
“Help around the house as much as you can, whether that’s cooking or cleaning up. Hire a cleaner if possible!”
“Appreciate I might need to offload about my day, particularly if it was a hard day – don’t feel you have to fix everything, just listening is fine.”
“Ask me if I’m hungry or thirsty as sometimes I don’t get a chance to get to look after myself like I usually would.”
“I know he’s tired too when he comes home from work, but I really need him to take the baby at that stage, even if he is just sitting on the couch with her.”
“Help with feeds, or nappy changes during the night…it gets very lonely doing it all on your own, even just some nights or the last feed before the baby goes down, so I can get to sleep earlier.”
“Don’t comment on the mess of the house.”
“Phone me during the day and suggest getting a take away for dinner.”
“Taking the baby for a bit so I could have a bath or shower or go to the gym.”
“Doing the supermarket shop.”
“Bath the baby in the evening.”
“Tell me I’m doing a good job.”
If your partner is still not on board, or you feel they are not hearing you, or things between you are escalating, then you might need professional help – sometimes people parent as they were parented and some new skills need to be learned.