WRITTEN BY Felicia Kashevaroff
FAQs for Expecting Parents
Understanding Equitable Parenting in New Families
We often hear from couples that it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain an equitable relationship when a new baby enters the picture. Here are some tips you can use to set your family up for success.
How can we as expecting parents set our family up to have an equitable household from the early days of parenting?
- Maximize your family leave if it’s available to you
- Both as expecting parents should avail themselves of leave whenever possible. It’s essential for dad, or the non-birthing parent to get comfortable with caregiving early on.
- Call in resources
- Leverage your community and/or any paid resources you can afford (family, friends, lactation consultants, night nurse, meal delivery, etc.)
- Make sure one parent isn’t the only one coordinating these resources. Non-birthing parents need to learn to anticipate and address needs at this stage.
- Learn to comfort baby on your own
- Baby’s cues can be challenging to read. Make sure you are taking the time to learn to interpret them and meet their needs without always defaulting to the birthing parent.
- Give mom (or the birthing parent) time to rest
- Their body is recovering from a traumatic event. Rest is crucial for recovery, whether it was a vaginal birth or a c-section.
- Lactating expecting parents need EXTRA rest! Making food for a growing infant takes an incredible amount of energy.
What are some common sticking points?
- It’s a beautiful, wonderful experience, but as stated above is incredibly time-consuming and energy intensive.
- If your partner is pumping, ensure you’re taking some nighttime feedings and learning to comfort the baby without the breast.
- Chores and Cleaning
- We often have family help or let things slide in the early days. This is GREAT! But make sure as time goes on, both partners not only DO chores but also know which chores are critical to keep the house running smoothly. Quick Tip: TendTask Household Organizer App can help you in this.
- Some examples might be sterilizing bottles and pacifiers, prepping formula/defrosting breastmilk, making sure diapers are stocked, and filling the fridge with quick, easy snacks for the lactating parent.
- It’s often difficult and, depending on the time of year and climate, unreasonable to take a baby shopping. But try not to fall into the trap where one parent takes inventory, and the other parent does the shopping at their request. Expecting parents should take stock of what the home needs, and sometimes the parent who is at home might want to get out of the house and do the shopping. Give them some extra time to get a coffee or tea and sip it quietly in peace. Take turns!
- Different Standards
- Take the time to discuss the standards that you both expect in your household and parenting. Try not to assume your way is right and your partner is unreasonable. Instead, discuss the reasoning behind your standards and find a place where you can both agree.
What’s the MOST important thing to creating an equitable household?
Learn to anticipate the needs of your family/household! I will say this over and over again because it’s so important! Learn to carry your fair share of the mental load. Pay attention when your partner doesn’t seem like themselves, when your newborn has a rash that looks weird, when the pantry starts to get empty, or when laundry needs to be done.
BONUS: Research shows that being an active caregiver is really good for your brain and makes you more productive at work and in other areas of your life!
The second thing is communication. Set time aside to discuss what’s working and what’s not. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted and angry. Remember that you’re a team, not adversaries.