Written by Paige (and Trey) Wimmer
As always, let me preface yet another blog post that we (my husband and I) have not ‘arrived’ at marital perfection. We are not experts nor do we claim to be. However, we have some experience at aiming to love each other well during the joyous yet challenging year of having a baby. We speak from experience as parents to three children. When we had our last child, we had to juggle the infant year with raising two other young kids, ages 1.5 and 3! Needless to say this period in a family’s life can be busy and fun, yet its so important to keep a marriage at the right priority. Together let’s fight against the urge to fall into culture’s expectations that marriages can’t be beautiful during this season of breastfeeding, sleeplessness, and dry shampoo. It can.
Here are some tips that we want to share . . .
Have a family calendar and communicate:
It’s hard to remember details when you are sleep deprived. Get a calendar (virtual or physical) that can be shared with your spouse. Make it a point to meet once per week and review the week ahead together. Blog post to come on how we as a family do this but here is a link to the physical weekly calendar we use.
Communicate important details and events when you are NOT tired or hungry. I know this can be limited, but try your best.
Make sleep a priority and feed your body:
Newborns need lots of love and milk, even through the night. If you have had a baby, you know this. We have always had a strategy of taking shifts because we have always felt that there is no point in BOTH of us not sleeping. My husband, more of a night owl, will take the first half of the night on the couch in the living room with the baby in the bassinet. I get in bed at an early hour, just after the bedtime feeding. Sometimes just getting that one, 3-hour stretch can do wonders! Preserving what little sleep you have is precious and can be the difference in protecting your marriage from little (unnecessary) arguments that are started due to exhaustion.
Power nap when possible. I am a firm believer in the power nap to creating a whole new me. For some people it does the opposite. To each his own.
Also, feed your body. We both know that I (Paige) am very prone to hanger related, worthless disagreements. Be proactive in making sure you are keeping healthy and filling foods in your house.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with doing ALL THE THINGS while taking care of a young baby that serving your spouse well seems just out of reach, how about just starting with ONE thing? Ask your spouse, ‘what is one thing that I can do for you each day’? The answer may surprise you. When I asked my husband this, he told me he just wanted to be greeted with a hug and kiss when he came home from work. I had gotten in a habit of handing him a baby or letting the toddlers distract me before doing this. But asking this question and hearing his answer greatly helped set the tone for the rest of our night together. For other people it might be, a warm dinner, a countertop free of clutter, clean laundry, a made bed, a ‘How was your day’ question, or a walk together outside. Whatever your spouse tells you, make it a priority.
‘One Minute Rule’: This means, think before you criticize. If something in your brain is telling you it’s still important after a minute then it just might be. Be sensitive if dad is learning how to change a diaper and not doing it the exact way you would do it. Extend grace if mom forgot to pick up the clothes at the dry cleaners. Take a minute to process what you are going to say. Realize that emotions are high, and chances are higher that someone will take things personally.
‘Same team rule’: often times sleep deprivation and hormones can get the best of us and cause UNNECCESARY disagreements. In those moments, remind each other that you are on the same team. Say it out loud. This can help diffuse a conflict.
Date night in (or out): If you are not ready to leave your baby with anyone else, create a date night at home. For us, this looks like having a game night, baking a dessert, watching a movie, or making (and devouring) a charcuterie board.
The important thing is to make time for it (put it on the schedule) and make it FUN. Make the memories. If you do make it out of the house, celebrate it and take a picture of the two of you. Yes, JUST the two of you. We have plenty of pictures on our phones of our kids or of us as parents with the kids, but its important to have moments frozen in time of you as a couple. Your future self will be grateful you have them.
On a babymoon before our last baby was born and so thankful we got a pic! --->
Raise a great sleeper:
News flash, date nights are hard when your little one depends on you to bounce them or nurse them to sleep. Or when your toddler comes out of their room ten times before falling asleep. I understand that we can’t put a timeline on when our babies will start to sleep through the night, or at least most of it. But keep in mind that helping your little one create great sleep habits is important! (Ahem, I can help with this).
Keep the bedroom and your evenings sacred:
With regard to the newborn season, we want to protect the bedroom and our evenings as much as possible. Yes, that means aim to keep little ones out of our bed and they are all asleep by 7:30. To have the space and time that is kid-free is how we can both reset and focus on each other. Yes, our babies deserve much of our attention. We love them so much we look at pictures of them after they go to sleep. But shouldn’t our spouses deserve more?
Remember this concept . . . your baby came into a family, not the family came for the baby. You and your spouse were there first and that relationship needs to be the most important and the most nurtured.
Research has shown that the best way we can give emotional security to our children is by having a strong and loving relationship with our spouse. Our marriage should be the highest priority and therefore the greatest gift we can give to our children. It’s a win for everyone.
If bedtime or evenings are hard for you and your spouse due to sleep issues, don’t hesitate to reach out. Schedule a call here https://calendly.com/lullababysleep/discovery-call
Faith and Community:
Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel less than. Surround yourselves with other moms, friends, and couples who encourage and inspire you. Reach out to a professional counselor. Lean on something bigger than yourself.
For Trey and I this looks like following Jesus Christ and the sacrifice and love that He models for us. It looks like getting to church every Sunday so we can be spiritually and emotionally fed. It looks like praying with and for each other. If you would like to know more about this, please reach out.
It’s a SEASON:
Remind yourself and your spouse of this. This period is only a season. Whether having an infant is all bliss or really hard (or a combination of both), it's only for a season. Take one day at a time because some days it’s really all you can handle, and that is okay. Enjoy the sweet moments and ask for help with the hard ones. This season when done well, will be a season you both will look back on and hopefully see a lot of growth, character building, and reliance on each other. Believe there is purpose in the hard things and joy to be found in the good things.
Lean in. I am cheering you both on.
Sweet memories and sweet dreams,
Things I am loving:
M is for Mama by Abbie Halberstadt
God and Money by John Cortines and Gregory Baumer
Anything by Colleen Hoover (yes I finally jumped on that train)
YMCA group fitness lessons (because I have no idea what to do and I need someone to tell me).
New traditions in our home: Friday night pizza and a movie with the kids. Starting a prayer journal with my husband. Phones away by 8:30pm!
The fact that my youngest can say words and tell me what she needs. When I understand what she needs its great.