Starting a Family: Navigating Change as a Couple 

Some couples have a honeymoon baby and become a family of three in a matter of months; others decide to postpone having a baby for a season. Whichever you decide, it’s one of the biggest changes that can come to your life as a couple! Now, it will no longer be just the two of you, but you will have a little bundle of joy to think about and enjoy. 

When I was pregnant with our first child, Daniel and I eagerly learned everything we can about parenting. We read all the books, watched all the videos, devoured every piece of advice other mothers could give me. I knew I wanted to breastfeed, so I read up all I could to make sure I could give my son the best milk in the world. 

Then when Titus came, it seemed as if his squalling cries sent all that I learned right out the window! Nothing seemed to work to get him to latch on properly. I was fumbling for what to do, in the midst of engorgement and all, and Daniel, ever encouraging, kept “believing” in me and refused to admit defeat by supplementing with formula. We only learned later on that our stubbornness in this case could have done more damage than good! 

To make matters worse, after the first week or so, Daniel went back to work and would come home in the late hours of the night. I, on the other hand, would be at Titus’ beck and call all day, while also managing our household chores. By the time Daniel came home, I was dead tired, expecting him to take over taking care of our baby. But he wouldn’t always have any extra energy, either! 

Needless to say, that caused a lot of conflict between us. In fact, some of my resentment during that period stayed and festered, and we only resolved it many years down the road.

 Some couples have lofty goals of doing everything themselves, and that’s perfectly fine. But be open to flexibility, such as possibly needing to hire outside help for a season. 
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Top 4 Tips for Starting a Family

Here are some of our top tips to help you transition to starting a family:

1. Plan for your support structure.

Before having a baby, you may have already gotten into a routine for doing household chores. Understand that taking care of a newborn baby will take up a lot of your time, so before the baby comes, it’s best if you and your spouse can already talk about what you plan for those tasks. 

Are you getting a live-in domestic helper? (This is common in Singapore.) Is one of your mothers coming to help? Are you outsourcing your laundry? Think about your other responsibilities, such as your careers: how much time would you both have, realistically, assuming the 24/7 care of a newborn baby? 

Some couples have lofty goals of doing everything themselves, and that’s perfectly fine. But be open to flexibility, such as possibly needing to hire outside help for a season. 

Along with this, think about finding mentors, trusted friends or family members who have gone before you. These mentors can give you advice, as well as encourage you when you struggle with certain aspects of taking care of a new baby.

2. Talk about your preferred parenting style.

Before your baby comes is a good time to talk about your parenting style, even just for the baby stage for now, among two opposite mindsets: child-led or parent-led. Attachment feeding is largely child-led, wherein you feed the baby anytime he or she wants. Parent-led feeding can come in many different forms, such as routine feeding or feeding according to hunger cues but within a reasonable routine. 

Although your parenting style may change over time, for this season of infancy, it would be good if both husband and wife know why the other is doing what he or she is doing. This is because your decisions at this point can form part of your overall parenting philosophy, so it’s important to start opening the conversation now. 

3. Plan ahead for couple time.

One struggle for many beginning parents is that they become too busy with the new responsibility that they overlook spending time alone with each other. Remember, before you become parents, you are primarily husband and wife. The marriage relationship is the foundation for a strong family, so you need to be intentional about cultivating your love and intimacy with each other. 

Before a baby comes, you can easily take date time for granted, because it’s always just the two of you. But when you become a family of three, you need to be intentional to plan for date time. How do you propose to do it? Whom can you get to babysit even just for an hour or two each week? Having a list of potential babysitters, such as family members, close friends, or hired help can make a difference. Many new parents are hesitant to leave their baby with other people, so planning ahead for this by choosing people you trust can ease some of the fear. 

4. Be ready to give allowances for each other!

With a newborn in the house, lack of sleep is quite common, and this can lead to crankiness, so be ready to give allowances for each other. Of course, this can be easier said than done! One way of doing this is to set realistic expectations for each other. Remember, this is a major transition for both of you, so it’s quite normal to have a roller coaster of emotions in the process. 

Perhaps a good way to plan for this is to stock up on little treats you can give each other for quick reconciliation during moments of tension? Does he or she like chocolates? A little can go a long way! 

Transitioning from Two to Three

Becoming a family is a challenging but rewarding transition. It can go more smoothly when you are prepared for what to expect—although of course, it may not always be exactly all that you plan for! Still, enjoy the process, give allowance to each other, and get to know each other better, and you’ll do fine. We are cheering for you!

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