Being a first time parent is awesome. I was both really excited and really nervous. I wasn’t around kids very much before I had my first child. But you learn quick. Here are some first time parent tips that helped us:
1) Agree on Responsibilities – actually write it down. Make a daily chart on what you are responsible for. I do the laundry on Tuesday, you get dinner. On Thursday I do bath, you feed him and put him to bed.
My wife and I sat down and had this discussion and understanding what is expected of each other can reduce a lot of arguments.
2) Communicate What You Want – This was one of the best pieces of first time parent advice that was given to me. Nobody knows what you want or need unless you tell them.
If you are wanting a break, tell your spouse. If you are wanting to connect, talk about it. It’s ok to to communicate what you want.
Be prepared that your spouse may not feel the same way you do at the moment. As an example, you may want more intimacy….but your spouse isn’t really concerned about that. You might have to be a little more patient. As first time parents, romance may slow down a bit. Find other ways to connect and help each other.
3) Give Your Spouse Positive Re-enforcement – Whatever you do, do not be critical of how your spouse is doing something. “You changed the baby wrong”. Well you can’t seem to load the dishwasher correctly.
Complaining doesn’t change behavior. Positive re-enforcement does. Thank you so much for changing the baby’s diaper. I saw you did the dishwasher. That was really helpful.
As a first time parent there are going to be a lot of opportunities to be trying new things. Encourage each other instead of tearing each other down.
4) Take Time For Yourself – While you certainly will have less time than you did before, carve out time to do things that you enjoy. Discuss this with your spouse.
When my wife and I were first time parents, we made sure that each of us still got to exercise. It was really important to both of us. We couldn’t do it at the same time, so I went to the gym really early in the morning and then went I got back, my wife did her workout.
It’s important that you don’t totally lose yourself. Your life does change, but you want to still be able to have some time for yourself. Also, the one on one time with the baby is really good for bonding.
5) It’s OK Not to be Perfect Parents – Making mistakes is part of parenting. There are so many opportunities to make mistakes and you will. Know that it is ok to make mistakes, just try not to repeat them very much.
Being a first time parent is a learning experience. You and your spouse are embarking on a long journey. Understand there are going to be lot of ups and downs. Realize that these ups and downs are totally normal and you will make it through.