Updated: Feb 16, 2021
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
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
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
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
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
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