No matter how excited you are to finally have your new baby at home with you following nine long months of pregnancy, you’re likely finding new motherhood a significant change. Not only are your sleep patterns disrupted, for the first time in your life you’re responsible for the complete care of someone outside yourself. And that someone, your baby, has a knack for stealing the show no matter where he or she goes. That show stopper may once have been your husband, as recent as a few weeks, even days, ago. As a result, he’s probably dealing with adjustment issues, too, the most obvious being attention deficit – a deficit of attention from you! If you’re finding it difficult to make time for the new daddy in your life, here are five ways to reconnect with your husband after having a baby.
1. Share responsibility. For many new moms, this is a tough one. After giving birth, our maternal instinct immediately kicks in, and we go into overdrive, wanting to control every aspect of our baby’s life and anything that revolves around it. Suddenly, emptying the dishwasher because it includes the baby’s bottles or washing the baby’s clothes becomes a matter of Homeland Security – your home and your land. Unless you give clearance, no one is going near your territory, including your husband. Now is the time to address your control issues and share some responsibilities with your spouse. Especially if you’re nursing and feeding is not an activity your husband can always join in, allow him to get involved in other ways. You’d be surprised; when done for the benefit of your baby and you, a once tedious chore can become an effective way for him to participate.
2. Enlist the help of grandparents. Chances are, Grandma and Grandpa are just as excited about your baby as you are. It may have been a long time since they had a newborn around or, alternatively, your bundle of joy may be another one of their grandchildren they’re just waiting to shower with love. Whichever the case may be, it’s likely they will be up for a few hours of babysitting. Take advantage! Book a dinner out for you and your husband at a nice restaurant, one nearby if you’re nervous about venturing too far from home, or simply go for a walk. It doesn’t matter what activity you choose so long as you’re attentive to each other as you’re doing it. While out, try to talk about subjects other than the baby. Guess what? There’s a whole world out there that’s got nothing to do with what’s going on back at home. Your mom and dad or in-laws may not load the dishwasher exactly the way you like, but remember, those few hours out will go a long way toward strengthening your marriage, so let it go!
3. Define your roles. Now is the time to define how you each see your roles at home because the temptation to wrap mothering up with household chores exists. And bad habits are hard to break. According to research published in Psychology Today, “[o]nce the babies are born…the women do more of the housework than before they became mothers, and the men do much less of the care of the baby than they or their wives predicted they would.” Treating parental responsibilities (and all that those entail) with respect from the very beginning will keep resentment in your marriage from growing, inevitably bringing – and keeping – you closer together.
4. Spend time alone. Even if only for an hour. Leave someone else in charge – your husband, a grandparent, a friend, a trusted babysitter – and do something for yourself that only benefits you. Take a bubble bath, read for pleasure, go for a drive, or listen to music. Do something you enjoy and do it by yourself. Only when you devote time to self-care can you truly give of yourself to others. If you’re beginning to feel exhausted and overworked since your baby arrived, it probably means you aren’t paying enough attention to your needs. When that happens, we tend to become angry and short with others, often our husband, because he’s the closest person to us. If you recognize this happening, take steps to prevent it and distance from growing between you. Just like how in an airplane emergency we’re instructed to put an oxygen mask on ourselves before the individual we want to assist, care for yourself first. You’re a mom, not a martyr.
5. Have sex. After you give birth, sex may be the last thing on your mind. However, once you get the green light from your doctor to engage in sexual activity, it’s important to incorporate sex back into your life. Whether you’re feeling unattractive because of the extra weight you put on during pregnancy, are exhausted, or simply not feeling the urge, push yourself to have sex anyway. Sex is one of those activities that, once you get started, it’s easy to get in the mood, even if you weren’t before. It’s all a matter of changing your mindset. Even if you’re not feeling beautiful, it’s a safe bet your husband still thinks you are. Men don’t see us the way we see ourselves, so stop being self-conscious and focus on him and the intimacy you once shared. Sex doesn’t need to take a long time or happen at the end of the day to be satisfying. Grab your hubby for some alone time when the baby’s napping, early in the morning, or when you’re washing that next load of laundry. Reconnect now because your baby won’t be a baby forever. In a flash, children grow into adults, and you want to be there for each other when they do.