Top five tips on Co-Parenting for New Parents

It is no secret my husband and I have struggled the last four months with being new parents.  A friend told me "not even infidelity tests a marriage like being new parents." I believe that is so true, because I went from having a beautiful marriage, to one that was riddled with bickering, tears, and at times full on yelling.  Luckily, four months into being new parents I can honestly say we are back on the mend.

The following are my top five tips for new parents trying to find a happy balance of co-parenting.

  1. Communicate-

When I say communicate, screaming and yelling are not going to cut it, trust me!  No matter how mad or upset you are, you have got to keep your cool to talk through the issue, otherwise the issue will never get resolved.

I told my super wonderful sister in-law, who is a nurse in Australia, that I felt like an awful mother for screaming over Oliver.  She told me not only had she done a bit of screaming herself, every mother does at one point or another in the early days.  She promised her kids were fine, and Ollie would be too.  The hubs and I just needed to learn to use our library voices to discuss our issues and differences.

Communication is key in the early days to understanding each other’s ideas and methods for parenting, and calmly talking through the differences.

  1. Be Respectful-

I’m not sure why this one was so difficult for me since before baby I had so much respect and admiration for my very strong and talented husband. For some reason my inner know-it-all princess bitch took over my ability to listen and respectful of my husbands way of handling, changing, feeding, swaddling, bathing, oh hell name it, I stood over him and threw up my two cents every time I thought necessary.  I was a maniac.

My husband is a full hands on dad.  He wants to do everything he possibly can and lives to show me how well he can do it.  I just never gave him the time and respect in the early days to show me.  Had I given him space to do his thing, it would have saved tons of arguments and I would have realized he’s a great father straight away.  To this day only he can get Ollie to nap in his crib during the day, I have created the co-napping monster.

Being respectful of each other from the beginning will be so beneficial to your relationship, co-parenting rhythm and baby.  

3. Trust-

Oh my was this one another major hurdle for my control freak ass!  My husband, again very wise, strong and capable, but for some reason when it came to our son I was afraid to leave him alone for too long or trust him to follow the routine at night.  This was so damning to our relationship I cannot begin to tell you.  I hurt my husband’s feelings so many times by not showing him that I trusted him to do what was best.  Every time I would leave the house or let him do the something, I would give him a huge speech about how and when it should be done.  Ugh, writing that just made me throw up in my mouth a little with disgust.  My goodness, this baby is his too, how dare I dictate every single thing? 

Trusting your partner will not only create a great parenting foundation, It will also decrease your new parent anxiety by 98%, because now you have a partner you can trust to help and support you.

  1. Take turns-

This is by far my favorite tip. However, if you do not have tips 1-3 down, this is not going to work so well.  Taking turns is such a wonderful way for both parents to test out their own parenting methods, ideally without the other parent standing over them the whole time. 

My husband and I now take turns with diapers, play time, bath time and my all time favorite, getting up in the morning.  A friend of mine taught me to take turns getting up with the baby, especially on the weekends. This way both parents get to sleep in one day. 

Taking turns really helps to engage both parents and keep one parent from harboring animosity for being the constant caregiver.  My girlfriend told me that she snapped at her husband when she was tired and needed help.  He told her that she needed to ask him for help well before she got that annoyed.  I think we all get to this point eventually.  Taking turns will really help to alleviate that “main caregiver” animosity.

  1. Be patient

You both are new parents.  Raising a child is so far from easy, it’s scary! Neither one of you knows everything, nor the best way to do everything.  It is essential that a great team be patient with each other, and of course the ever changing needs of the baby.

Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com


Jessika said...

This is a love story in itself- truly... and also serves as a mirror to my own guilty admissions in learning the newness of co-parenting. I sit here, tongue-in-cheek, and realize I need to do the same :) Awesome tips!

Esther said...

I can definitely relate to this post! We live in a loft-style apt with divider walls with no enclosed rooms or doors (not fun when we were sleep training!) and when it was my husband's turn to take care of the baby, my bionic ears would tune into what they were doing and I would bark orders or suggestions over the wall at all hours of the day - and he would respond "I GOT THIS! GO BACK TO BED!" :) Definitely had to learn to delegate and trust FULLY, and now daddy is better at EVERYTHING than mommy :)

Katie said...

Hey there!

Just wanted to check in to see how little Oliver is doing sleeping wise now?
My William is still getting up at least 2 times a night to eat, plus waking up at 5:30 (super tired), but is too gassy to fall into a deep sleep.
As a result, he is tired during the day. He will usually sleep for 45 minutes in his crib, before waking up and sometimes going back to sleep on me for another hour or so. :( He generally cannot stay awake longer than 1.5 hours. (sometimes even just 1 hour)

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

Hi Katie! First of all UGH! I'm so sorry you and William! The first few things that come to mind are, 1. Are you giving him any gas drops? I give Ollie drops at his first night time feeding and everyone through his last early morning feeding, this seems to help. 2. Is William by any chance too cold or hot? If Oliver is either he will not sleep well at all. 3. You did not hear this from me, but... Oliver’s mattress is so damn hard that he hates it. I folded up his crib comforter and swaddle him really tightly and lay him on top of it to soften his sleep. I tell myself since he is swaddled so tightly he cannot/doesn't rollover so I feel safe at night. And finally 4. Since we propped up his mattress with a pillow underneath, he has slept MUCH better. All of these things are, I really believe, the reason he is sleeping SO much better at night! Also, good naps help.

Now, in regard to Oliver… That is actually what tomorrows post is all about! Without giving too much away, he is sleeping really well, but still plagued by bad gas pains around 5-6 am as well.

Katie said...

Hey, it is definitely tough! I feel like we are back in the new born days!
We've tried the gas drops, and they haven't seemed to help at all.
We have an old house, and it's hard to regulate the temperature in his room. He has a fan in there now to keep air circulating. On cold days he will have a onesie and sleeper, and on hot days we will skip the onesie. However, he is swaddled. He doesn't feel that hot though when he wakes.
I may think of propping up his mattress. Maybe that will help.

The annoying thing is is that he has gone from 8:30 - 3, and then til 7ish, a couple of times. So I know he can do it.

But I think the problem started because he was very colicky and would never ever let us put him down awake (in anything). So he hasn't learned to self soothe (although again, he has done it, because I've heard him wake up, and then go back to sleep again)

How are Ollie's naps? Is he is in his bed to nap? What is his sleep schedule like?

Thanks for responding! It's great having someone with a baby Will's age.

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

Of course I will respond! It's great having you and Will!

Befor we had my brother inlaw for 3 weeks Ollie was doing the 7/8-2am stretch. Then he went back to the every three hour new born days too. It's only been the last two weeks that he is stretching out again.

Ollie is a napper. He naps pretty much for takeaway a half hour in between every three hour feeding during the day and most always has a gray nap mid afternoon. I also have realized his nap around 5-6 pm seems to be necessary to get him through the night. I have always been told a baby that naps like crap, sleeps like crap. It still seems silly to me, but it does seem to be true. Also, we nap together in my bed. Dad however puts him in his crib. Oliver does sleep longer in my room in the day than in his crib. Another key with Ollie is the room has to be dark.

Oliver is crap at self soothing too. I have a noise maker he has had since birth that I use to get him to sleep at night in his crib.

Oliver has NEVER slept past 4:45am. and lately he is up and ready to play at 6am. He will go back to sleep around 8am and sleep until 11am. If only I could get him through to 8...

Katie said...

My hubby doesn't usually get home until 6:40, but all the books I've read (lol), always say to put him down early, but then Sam would never see him.

SO I never really know what to do. He gets so tired by the end of the day. If he could get a short catnap in at 6 or so, then he is usually a bit better. But this is the hardest nap to get him down for.

If Will only slept for 45 minutes every 3 hours, he would be a total disaster, which is why I end up holding him for the last hour or so. But still, he can't usually stay up past 1.5hours. If he does 2 hrs, then he is way harder to get to sleep.

I still have to rock him to sleep everytime too, which I want to stop, but I know there is no way he would put himself to sleep. When we are in the car and he wants to sleep, I have to reach my arm back holding his soother in his mouth until he falls asleep. :)

lol. I feel bad, like Im' just complaining. :) He really is a great little guy when he is not tired!

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

I've built two blogs on complaining, however you sound concerned more than anything! Sleep is essential for a baby's growth and brain development. What's more is that you have a colicky baby, that's really hard. The lengths you have to go to sooth will are far beyond what I've had to do. I hate to sound like a broken record but, This Too Shall Pass!

Oh and I put Ollie down at the time I expect to put him down at until he is 8 years old! God forbid my child get used to staying up until 11! I think in the long run I will get more sleep then my friends with late bed times.

Another way I get Ollie to nap is with my Moby Wrap. He loves naping attached to me and I love stil getting things done. I have vacuumed with him in his wrap.

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

Oh my! Loft style... Sorry to admit I just read your comment to the hubs and said, " see you were wrong, it could be worse, I could constantly be listening and yelling over divder walls." this is where you take a cue from Kiwi Mum and run to the street during sleep training to maintain your sanity!

Esther said...

April - yes, I think babies love napping attached to us! We call our Ergo "The Dungeon". When he's cranky, that's where he goes and he's snoring his little butt off within minutes!