So, you’ve welcomed a gorgeous bundle into your home and family. You had two
exhausting blissful weeks at home getting to know your new baby and then you had to leave your partner and said gorgeous little person at home enjoying their long parental leave in front of daytime TV, having afternoon naps, going for coffee and generally having a wonderful time, while you went back to the daily grind of your job and reality.
You may see it like that.
Your partner probably doesn’t.
She/he is actually surviving on single figure hours of sleep each night, grabbed between night feeds and resettling.
Those daytime naps don’t happen, as she/he is feeling terribly guilty that you have gone back to work and you come home to a tip of a house and no dinner, so naptimes are spent desperately trying to do something resembling housework, even if it’s just washing so that you have clothes to wear to work. They’re unlikely to be napping, despite being more tired than they ever thought humanly possible.
Oh and daytime TV may well be on all day, but babies aren’t terribly keen on watching it and require a fair amount of attention, so she/he is unlikely to have their feet up watching that either.
The coffee dates? The only thing keeping them marginally sane and awake right now.
Anyway, now I’ve set you straight on those few bits, I thought it may be useful to give you a little insight into how you can avoid coming home and seriously pissing your partner off. If it’s mum at home, she’s likely to be very hormonal, as well as knackered, so ignore these at your own peril. But please don’t mention the hormones. Divorce territory.
- When you get in, take the baby.
Don’t wander in, kiss baby and partner on the head and disappear off to get changed. I get that your suit or office wear probably isn’t the most comfortable attire for the evening, and you are fine to slip off and change in a bit, but take into account the fact that your partner probably hasn’t had time without baby attached to them to go to the toilet today, let alone get out of their PJs.
The likelihood is that they have been standing at the front window/door waiting for you to arrive home for the past hour to regain their sanity, so don’t dessert them again quite yet. Take the baby and ask how their day was.
- Do the odd night feed…
I know, I get it. Unless your partner was lucky enough to get a great maternity package, or you were canny enough to save up before falling pregnant (does anyone do that?!), you’re probably paying the rent/mortgage and most of the bills and in order to do so, you do need to be compos mentis during the day.
But every now and then, you will earn immeasurable brownie points by offering to help out at night and give your partner some sleep. It probably doesn’t have to be every other night, but the odd take-over will reap huge rewards (think refreshed, less grumpy partner who is grateful and has remembered why they love you.)
- …But don’t boast about how easy it was
It probably hasn’t had a huge effect on you to have one night of uninterrupted sleep. You may well be wondering what all the fuss is about. For goodness sake don’t tell them that. Try doing it for a few weeks/months EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. and see if you are still fresh as a daisy.
- Don’t complain of tiredness
Especially if you’re not sharing the night feeds. It just won’t go down well. You’re not really that tired.
- Exercise caution when administering parenting advice
So you spent a day with the baby and it went brilliantly. Perhaps you even parented solo while your partner had some time to themselves. And during that day, you managed to crack the napping/feeding/crying issue that your partner has been really struggling with.
Chances are it was a fluke, but even if you have discovered the longed-for solution to said problem and are about to make your million with a parenting book, be very careful when telling your partner about it. Probably don’t even tell them that you tried it and it worked, but offer it as ‘an idea’.
You see, your partner does nothing else but try and solve these problems day in, day out, so having you waltzing in and cracking it, then boasting about it will be a hard pill to swallow.
- Say thank you sometimes
We all get bogged down in day to day life at times and forget to appreciate how wonderful our families are and take them a little bit for granted. But your partner is quite possibly doing the hardest job they have ever done and they are bringing up your child, your baby, your pride and joy. It can be a thankless and tough task at times, so make sure you tell them how amazing they are sometimes.
It’s tough for you both, working out your new lives as parents. Tough, amazing, and everything in between, but hopefully these little things should make life slightly nicer and help you to get along a little better as a couple.
Disclaimer – Not ALL of these faux pas are based on Mr M’s mistakes, but taken from friends and anecdotes too, so don’t hate on him. He’s a lovely dad and a great husband… most of the time 😉