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.
Here are some tips to help you to get through new parenthood as a team.
Accept your differences
You and your partner will have different ways of doing some things with your baby. For example, you might think it's easier and quicker for you to settle the baby yourself but you're exhausted and crave a bath/sleep/sandwich or all three. So just because your partner has a different soothing, winding or nappy changing technique to you, doesn’t mean it is wrong.
It's best to acknowledge that you both have different ways of getting to the same outcome: a happy baby. And do try to share the load. This also means your baby is bonding and creating a strong relationship with both parents so it is a win, win situation.
“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 tasks 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. So all three of you will be better off if you try to get through the day as a team.
You could try to take five minutes to list together what essential tasks need to get done today, such as eating, sleeping and washing. You can then plan who will do what and when they will do it. You may also think of some ‘nice to do if we have time’ things, such as going for walk or to the local café for lunch. But don’t put pressure on yourselves to be anywhere for a certain time.
When it feels like there are so many tasks to get done with a new baby, if you're both at home, it might make more sense to do things separately. For example, one of you might wash and dress the baby while the other makes breakfast.
You can discuss with your partner whether it's better to both wake when the baby needs something at night or to have shifts where you take responsibility.
At first, you’ll probably be doing a lot of learning on the job. It can also get lonely if you're managing tasks separately for the time being. So do try and remember to check in with each other from time to time, to see how you are finding things.
Help each other out too. If you've found a great way to calm the baby or make them smile, be sure to share this with your partner.
It's always best to be quick to forgive little mistakes. There is so much to master with a new baby and you are both bound to forget something at some time.
If you need to make decisions about how to care for your baby, such as feeding or sleep training, be sure to do some research and share your findings with your partner. That way, they know what is informing your opinion.
“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
Roles and responsibilities
A lot of couples disagree about their share of household chores. Add a new baby, and surprise surprise, those disagreements might get a little more heated.
You may need to divvy up household roles and responsibilities a bit differently from before.
It’s worth taking time to acknowledge your different roles and come up with a plan that makes 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
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 try to laugh off the smaller irritations and remember to rejoice in the good times too.
“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
This page was last reviewed in February 2022.
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Find further information on relationships in our dedicated section. Relate and Care for the Family also have articles about family life and coping with a new baby that you might find useful. The Center for Parenting Education has a helpful article about partners in parenting.