Teamwork is a vital part of new parenthood as a couple. Take a look below to see how teamwork can help make parenthood more productive and less fractious.
When it was just the two of you, teamwork might not have been something you thought much about in your relationship. Throw a new baby into the mix and suddenly you have untold new decisions to make. Just about every hour of the day. On very little sleep.
From routine things like what to dress them in, to bigger dilemmas like whether to co-sleep. Life just got a whole lot more complicated, and a whole lot more intense.
To complicate things further guess what else will happen?
"Unless you’re some kind of perfect super-couple, you’re going to disagree."
Not just on trivial things either. Decisions about your baby’s upbringing are the most important you’ll ever make. And each of you has the divine right to make them, or at least that’s how it seems.
In reality, deep breaths and the ability to compromise are often the best solutions. Of course, these decisions are important. But it’s also important for your child to grow up in a happy, loving atmosphere. Research shows that couples who work at parenting together not only have happier relationships, they also have happier children (Burgess, 2011; Chong, 2016). Of course, it’s never going to be plain sailing all the time but a little give and take can go a long way.
“It was important to let my husband do stuff even if it wasn’t how I’d do it. That way our daughter got used to his ways and developed a good relationship with him. Now she goes to him as well as me if she’s hurt or wants a cuddle.” Joanne, mum to Maddie, 22 months
Dividing and conquering
You might have noticed you’re just that teensy weensy bit busier than before. Babies are the best stealers of time in the business, and they have scant regard for adult sleeping patterns. You might still be raging inwardly that your partner let your baby nap for 15 minutes longer than usual this morning. But try not to let it turn into an argument.
All three of you will be better off if you try to get through the day as a team. So talk to each other, and try to think of any differences you have as just that. Differences in opinion, not right or wrong ways of doing things.
“When you’re tired and exasperated, you just feel like screaming. But it's better to bite your tongue or talk calmly and constructively through any differences. Because you won't agree on every aspect of parenting, believe me.” Ian, dad to Maud, one year
At first, you’ll probably be doing a lot of learning on the job. Try and remember to check in with each other from time to time. Help each other out, make sure you both get time to rest, and remember your sense of humour. Just allowing yourself to laugh can be the best response to an exploded nappy.
“I remember one time we were late to get somewhere. We were doing battle with screaming child, kicking legs, and short tempers all round. I ended up in a violent tug of war over a sock, only to realise the person at the other end was not our daughter, but my wife. We collapsed laughing. And funnily enough, so did our daughter.” Gavin, dad to Elsie, two years
New roles and responsibilities
Every couple disagrees about their share of household chores. Add a new baby, and surprise surprise, those disagreements might get a little more heated.
You will likely need to divvy up roles and responsibilities a bit differently from before. We won’t be the first people to say this but staying at home to look after baby and going out to work are both, well, work.
It’s worth taking time to acknowledge this and come up with a plan where you both feel supported. Work through what might be best for you as a couple. This might be through trial and error but it will help you find your groove.
“Teamwork works best by divvying. Divvying the thinking. Knowing one person calls the shots on weaning, for example, and the other is keeping a watch on when nappies are running low. Or having one person take her to the park while the other blitzes the kitchen.” Prisha, mum to Jahnvi, 15 months
With both of you so busy – and sleep deprived – it’s a good idea to make sure one of you isn’t burdened with all the housework. If you can both cook, great, it’s good to share. If not, well, washing-up, putting the bins out and vacuuming are most likely up for grabs.
Remember to enjoy yourselves
That’s right. Crazy as it may sound, amid the chaos, you’ll be sharing some of the most extraordinary, joyous and unique moments of your lives. Of course, you’re going to argue from time to time but remember to enjoy the good times together too.
This page was last reviewed in December 2018.
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You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Read further articles on relationships in our dedicated section here.
Burgess A. (2011) Fathers roles in perinatal mental health: causes, interactions and effects. Available: https://www.nct.org.uk/sites/default/files/related_documents/Burgess%20Fathers%20roles%20in%20perinatal%20mental%20health%20%2824-9%29_1.pdf [Accessed 1st November 2018].
Chong A, Mickelson KD. (2016) Perceived fairness and relationship satisfaction during the transition to Parenthood. Journal of Family Issues. 37(1):3-28.