It’s hard to maintain relationships with childless friends when they still want to party or you have to meet them during their lunch hour and that doesn’t even give you enough time to feed the baby and find a shirt that doesn’t have spit up on it, let alone get out the door. Likewise, you might find that your old friends just don’t understand the new you.
You’re likely to find yourself drawn to other mothers and fathers, knowing only they can truly “get” what new parenthood is like. Even better if they live within pram walking distance in your neighbourhood. So, seek out public places, parks or cafés where parents might meet. Immerse yourself in your local community and you may just find friends for life – for you and your child.
If managers or co-workers aren’t sensitive to your changing needs during pregnancy, how you feel about them can change. Organisations may not grant enough parental leave or be inflexible about return to work arrangements. It’s not much fun working for a boss you feel resentful towards. The ways you bond with co-workers, like Friday night drinks or lunch-hour shopping sprees may lose their appeal as pregnancy progresses and priorities change. And yet, if work colleagues are also part of your support system, it’s likely they’ll be missed at some point.
So, research leave entitlements and discuss a range of options with your manager to see what’s possible. Babies needs change a lot in their first year and it will support your whole family if your employer is flexible. It’s best to leave big career decisions until after you’ve experienced what life with your baby is really like. It’s only then you’ll be able to make the decisions that are best for your family. Stay connected with your closest work colleagues so you can pick up where you’ve left off when the time is right.
Parents and In-laws
Your feelings towards your own parents can change when you become one yourself. Some parents can feel closer to a parent they never fully understood before or further from one who continues to disappoint. Grandparents can be an appreciated extra pair of hands or an extra cherished person to lavish time, attention and love when their parents are too exhausted to. Or, there can be frustration towards parents or in-laws who are on the doorstep the day after the birth, when you may have been planning a private babymoon instead.
Parenthood is a time of drawing new boundaries. Of deciding how you want your family to be and how it might differ from the families you grew up in. Negotiations with parents and in-laws are best approached as a team, so make sure you and your partner are on the same page about how involved, and in which ways, you’d like them to be.
Sibling rivalry takes on a whole new meaning when you become a parent! You might find, even if you weren’t competitive during childhood, that you start to compare yourself with your siblings, and how they’re “doing” parenthood. Some parents ask themselves “if he/she can do it, why can’t I”? Alternatively, it might be that you have a clearer idea of how you don’t want to do parenthood, even if you haven’t exactly figured out how you do want to do it…yet.
You were a unique individual before you had your baby. Becoming a parent adds new aspects that make you even more unique, so don’t compare yourself with anyone else. They’re unique too. Apples and oranges.
Relationship with your partner
This is the big one. Most people don’t realise it at the time, but changes in other relationships can put more pressure on the one we have with our partner, especially where others may have been part of a support system. When we lose support in one area, we need it more in others to cope. And parents need to cope with the pressures of parenthood. When they don’t, the whole family can suffer.
This is the relationship that babies care about the most, so it’s the one that needs to be most important to their parents. For your partnership to withstand all the change and challenges in life to come – and they will – you’ll want your partnership to be more of a priority than any of the issues that could come between you. Your baby will thank you for this. For life.