First things first: I'm not a relationship expert, but I have successfully gotten through having a baby without ruining my relationship (right, dear?) so I think I've got at least a little insight into this whole game. At this point in our lives, my partner and I have just rounded the corner of 11 solid years together (I know, I'm just as baffled by it as you are). I like to joke that our relationship is the same age as a sixth-grader. It has just entered middle school, you guys. I'm sure there's a plethora of awesome metaphors to be made here, but I won't waste your time since most of them involve acne and awkward school dances, and some of us don't like to joke about that stuff.
Anyway, what I'm most proud of in my relationship is the fact that, in all of our years of togetherness, he's only accidentally walked in on me in the bathroom twice. Coincidentally, they both happened after we had a baby. the introduction of a tiny human to your previously all-adult relationship does changes thing, is what I'm saying. And, as prepared as we were, there's still more that we could have done.
I don't assume that anything I have to say about relationships is all that wise, but hey, maybe it might resonate and strike a chord with a few of you. With that in mind, here are some ideas on what you can do during pregnancy to prepare you both for your lives together after the baby arrives. Some of these are things that my partner and I actually did, and some are things that I wish we'd done. And some of them are things that kinda just happened accidentally that, should we have another kid, I definitely want to attempt to do again. With further ado:
Let Go Of The Way Things Were
I have very fond memories of a particular Sunday afternoon in my third trimester. My partner was working on a freelance project on his computer, while I laid on our bed a few feet away, writing thank you notes and amusing myself on my phone. You know, just generally being lazy in that awesome way that only a pregnant woman can without feeling at all guilty about it. We did this for hours. It was glorious and relaxing. Since we've had a baby, it's impossible to replicate. But I get that, and I accept it, and that's made the transition a teensy bit smoother.
I mean this both literally and figuratively. My partner and I saved up and had someone come in and clean our house a couple weeks before I was due. Depending on where you live, this can be the same price as one or two meals out for the two of you, so for us (ahem, for me) it was a great investment because it took the pressure off in one area of our lives, and was one less thing to worry about as baby's arrival got closer.
And on ~another level~, if there's any pending issues that are looming over you two, I'd venture to say that clearing through them before your kiddo arrives will serve you well. Just a suggestion. You know, because dealing with that stuff is always so easy.
Stock Your Kitchen
I'm talking frozen food, non-perishable snacks in the cupboards, paper plates, plastic silverware, and every possible coffee shortcut imaginable. It's not impossible to do dishes when you have a newborn in the house (no — it is not possible). Save yourselves the trouble if you can.
Enjoy Some Spontaneity
I worked full-time up until one week before my due date, so the evening of my last day in the office, my partner and I went out to dinner. And then, we took a (very slow) walk through the park. It sounds simple enough, but what made it special was how we did it on the fly. I can't think of one example of something he and I have done together, just the two of us, in the spur of the moment since our little arrived. For me, this is just fine (I can YOLO from the couch, thank you very much), but if you're someone who lives by the seat of her pants, you may want to get some of that out of your system while you can.
Knock Out Some Of Your Bucket List Dates
My partner and I did not go on a babymoon, but I totally see the appeal. A chance to get away, have some downtime together, and maybe see something new? Sign me up, please. Granted, getting myself anywhere other than the couch while pregnant was tough for me, but for those of you who have energy, these months are a great time to have some last adventures as a family of two.
Figure Out How Your Partner Wants You To Show Love
Perhaps you've heard that having a newborn is tiring? And like all humans, you only have so much energy to go around. I've found that it helps to know what your partner values most when it comes to your affection because you are going to need to prioritize. My own example of this is how my husband, upon noticing that I was having tearful meltdowns over breastfeeding in regular intervals, volunteered to handle the cooking, while I handled (or tried to handle) feeding the baby. This is the best possible thing he could have done for me.
Book suggestion time! Not sure what your partner needs most from you? Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages. If you haven't already explored it, it'll give you a chance to discover what your partner likes and needs when it comes to how you show affection. Then, you can prioritize that over say, letting them sleep. Wait, scratch that — always let them catch up on sleep, then speak their love language. Sorry, Gary.
Commit To Being Flexible
Most of my friends who've become parents have been pretty realistic with accepting the fact that their lives are about to change monumentally. However, what all new parents have in common is that it's pretty much impossible to predict what your lives will look like. Are you going to be woken at 2 a.m.? 3 a.m.? 4 a.m.? All of the above? There's no way to know. It will make things easier if you both agree to accept the craziness that's about to ensue. And (warning, here's another thing everyone will say to you) to enjoy it while you can because it goes super fast.
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