I am often surprised to hear people say that their marriage was great until the kids arrived. It seems to be a common complaint. When I ask them to tell me why they think that happens, they usually say something about parenting is so hard, so demanding, so stressful it takes all their strength.
Even Gov. Mike Huckabee complained on his TV show that parenting was the hardest thing he had ever done. “Harder,” he said, “than being governor, running for president, or producing my daily radio show and weekly television.”
Too often pediatricians (and I am one), other parenting experts, and parents think parenting is about the children. But, the first word in parenting is “parent”. Parenting is about the parent.
So, let me tell you my three step program to make parenting easier.
#1 – Take care of each other first!
If you don’t make it, the baby will suffer. It’s like the airline staff tellIng you if the cabin loses pressure, put your mask on and then put a mask on your children. They imply that you can’t help them if you pass out.
During the first few weeks at home babies are time consuming as all parents know. But after a month or two, baby needs to adjust to the parent’s schedule. After all, the parents were there first, baby came to live with them; he/she needs to adapt.
New Dad, arrange for a sitter to come during the first month to meet the new family, learn where everything is in the home, what the parents expect, and where they keep the emergency numbers. Then make arrangement for a date with New Mom when baby celebrates her 6 week birthday.
Go to a movie, have dinner and find something other than the baby to talk about, make a list if you need to. Do not call the sitter during the date. Instruct her before you leave to call you only if there is an emergency. Spitting-up or crying is not an emergency.
Plan a date night one night a week until the last child goes to college. Don’t let your kids ever interrupt your date night unless they call the police, ambulance, or fire department first. Part of your job is to teach them independence! Best of all, you’ll find when the kids are gone you’ll still have your best friend to continue to love for the rest of your lives.
In short, the most important thing you can do for you children is to love your spouse, or your children’s other parent!
We’ll talk about the second and third steps in next month’s post. Click here to read it.