Five proven ways for couples to nurture each other’s wellbeing as parents

Updated: Feb 16



Having and raising a child is a unique journey that is filled with excitement, joy

and special moments. But having a little one who is entirely dependent on

you and your partner can easily take its toll on your mental and physical

wellbeing.


Sleep deprivation, new territories and hormone changes can easily lead to

feelings of anxiety, helplessness, loneliness and stress. On top of this, at the

moment we are facing an uncertain future like never before, which adds extra

stress to the family unit. If this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone. It is

totally normal to experience varying degrees of these feelings and emotions.


This blog focuses on those who are parenting with a partner. There are lots of

small steps that you can take to support each other’s wellbeing and ease any

negative feelings. By sharing the load, communicating effectively and

showing appreciation for each other, you can elevate each other mentally and

emotionally, and enjoy the parenting journey to the fullest.


I’ve put together five tips that both parents can use to care for each other’s

wellbeing:


1. Share the load


Many mothers will instinctively take on a lot of the work when raising a child.

This can result great sense of satisfaction and joy but, at times, resentment

and anger. You and your partner work in partnership and you both are finding

the new balance and role in the family unit. Talking about shared

responsibility and dividing up the tasks where you can can offer you the

support you need. Not only will this give you each a break, but it gives you

both the opportunity to bond with the child equally.


In the early days, mothers who are breastfeeding will naturally find that the

baby spends more time on them. If this is the case, remember that there are

lots of other ways that your partner can help.


Once the baby has finished feeding, you could pass them to your partner to

be burped. They can change the baby’s nappy or have skin-to-skin contact.

They might like to take them out for a walk in a carrier. I recommend

encouraging these wherever you can. If your baby is bottle fed then you have

the option to share the role of feeding too.


2. Ask you partner: How can I be there for you?


Invite your partner to tell you what you can do for them today, this week, this

month. Ask them how you can be there for them, what roles and

responsibilities could you take on to make their experience better? It could be

something simple like booking an appointment, doing the school run or

revisiting your roles for nighttime feeding.


Asking them what they need from you might be just what they need as they

face new challenges and experiences. It reminds them that you are here to

support them and that you are in it together, sharing this extraordinary

experience meaningfully. It might even help them to open up about how

they’re feeling, to tell you about what is going on for them during this

transition time to parenthood.


At the beginning, the landscape of your parenthood is constantly changing,

which requires more check-ins than usual. Asking how they’re finding things,

their wishes for your role in parenting and allowing yourself to listen to each

other’s point of view can make the whole different between coping and

celebrating parenthood.


3. Focus on what you do want or do have, not what you don’t want or don't have


When telling your partner how they can be there for you - being specific about

what you do want, rather than what you don’t want or what they do not do,

can make a very big difference.


When you’re tired and stressed, it can be easy to complain about the ways in

which your partner isn’t supporting you. But behind every complaint is a wish

or desire - identifying this and being specific with what you are longing for will

help both of you.


For example, instead of saying “you aren’t doing your fair share of helping

with homework, you always make excuses” - you might like to say “I know

you are busy, but I am feeling overwhelmed and lonely. It would really help if

we can talk about it.”


We know from research that blaming and criticising people can raise their

defensiveness, whereas using positive language promotes positive

connections.


4. Help your partner have time to themselves


Is there anything you could do to give your partner a few moments to

themselves? Perhaps you could take the child out for a walk while they enjoy

a bubble bath, or maybe you could feed them while your partner takes a nap.

Taking time for a bit of self-care is vital for wellbeing.


It’s a simple yet effective tip. Encouraging your partner to take time to

themselves will not only nurture their wellbeing, but also strengthen your bond

with your child as you have time alone together.


It can benefit both partners, even if one of you is the main caregiver and one

of you is the provider, for example. Allowing the provider 10 minutes to

unwind after work will allow them to calmly bring their attention to you and the

child.


5. Show appreciation for each other


With the arrival of a baby, your relationship will inevitably change, but there

are lots of small steps you can take to continue to nurture it. A small

acknowledgement of something you appreciate about your partner can go a

long way to strengthen your bond with each other.


You might like to share how much you appreciate them taking your child to

their dance class when you needed to move your meeting, how grateful you

are that they popped out for formula when you were on a conference call,

how secure you feel in the way that they provide for you or how wonderful

they are as a parent to your children.


Research shows that successful couples will have five positive exchanges for

every one negative. Learning to balance the serious side of a relationship by

creating space for fun and joy is important for you mindset.


It is the small gestures and habits that keep relationships on the right tracks.

When you see each other, look into their eyes with a smile, share a hug,

show an interest in how their day was. It can make a big difference to how

you feel about your relationship.

About the author

Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari (Instagram: @Dr_Kalanit) is a parental advisor,

relationship therapist, speaker and author of "Small Steps for Great Parenting

- an Essential Guide for Busy Parents".


For more information, visit

www.kalanitbenari.com

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