First, write down a list of the day-to-day tasks in your lives. For example:
- Grocery shopping
- Yard upkeep
- Trash & recycling out
- House repairs & maintenance
- Car servicing, washing, and gas
- Showers and personal care
- Caring for other children
- Going to the bathroom
- Caring for a pet
- Spending time with each other
- Bill pay
- Attending social events
- Connecting with family and friends
- Sending birthday cards/presents
- Going to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, chiropractor, optometrist
- Etc. (there is always more!)
Now, consider what is required when caring for a new baby:
- Feeding baby (up to an hour at a time, sometimes longer)
- Burping baby
- Changing baby’s diaper
- Changing baby’s clothes
- Changing your clothes
- Doctors’ appointments
- Packing the diaper bag
- Playing with/talking to baby
- Worrying about baby
- Putting baby to sleep
- Putting yourself to sleep
- Taking pictures of the baby (duh)
- Sharing pictures
- Downtime for you
- Reading books about baby care and sleep
- Buying diapers, wipes, clothes, burp clothes — anything that’s needed for baby
You’ll have a whole new set of responsibilities when baby arrives. It’s important for you and your partner to sit down together — before baby arrives if possible — and discuss/plan a who-will-do-what list. Discussing these things in advance of the sleep-deprived state that new parents experience allows you to consider a rational, solid (and flexible) plan. Doing so may help you avoid (or lessen) arguing over the small stuff.
When you sit down to discuss “life with baby,” consider these additional tips:
- Some of your priorities on the first list are going to have to go. Or at least wait. Boil down what’s really needed in the first 6 months.
- Consider what you can delegate and to whom. Friends? Neighbors? Family? Postpartum doula? Cleaning service? Lots of people love to help out new parents — take them up on those offers.
- Think of ways to cut corners where you can. This includes ordering out for dinner more than normal, sending an email for a birthday instead of a card, cleaning every other week, etc.
The more time you can put into preparing and planning for your postpartum time, the more likely you’ll be able to enjoy that time and strengthen the bond between yourself, your partner, and your baby.