Communication and Teamwork as Parenting Partners
I’m in the shower feeling the warm water cleanse my body and all I can hear is a banging on the bathroom door and a high pitched: “MAMA MAMA MAMA!!!!” My 14-month old daughter doesn’t like it when I have any alone time. The fact that she is so attached is sweet but also can be exhausting.
My husband works from home and I am thinking: “I just need TEN minutes to feel like a human again!”. I hear him come and get her from the door and tell her that it will be okay. Mom will be back.
I am balancing trying to dress myself, answer emails on my work computer, feed my daughter her breakfast, and get out the door to my work day. Oh yes, and kiss my dog and my husband good bye. My husband has his own list of tasks he does to help our household run. Sometimes I think we’re doing a really good job; sometimes it feels like everything is too much and I’m sinking below the water.
Before I had children, I had plenty of time for dates with my husband, to take my dog on long and lingering walks, and to spend countless hours building up my private practice. These days, I have to take a hard look at what I choose to prioritize in my day and often that means saying no to things or people who ask me to do things. I’m learning to not feel guilty about that. It’s a work in progress!
Above all else, I have learned that if I don’t communicate effectively with my husband, then it all feels that much more chaotic and difficult. If you have a child or children, maybe you can relate. Stress builds up as life gets busier trying to balance it all. Questions like: how much should I work? Who will watch the baby? How will cooking dinner get done? Where do I fit in self-care time? What level of cleanliness am I willing to tolerate in my home? Etc etc etc. It is certainly not going to be perfect. (This has been a difficult one for me to come by, personally.)
One of the essential parts of my life that I have learned I NEED to push to the top is quality time with my husband. When our lives are so busy and we haven’t had a minute to check in with each other, our communication breaks down and we can at times project this stress on one another. How does this help us get our household to function and get through our days? It doesn’t.
Rewind to the morning routine. If I get too into my own head and begin reacting to my feelings of overwhelm about trying to get it all done, I am more likely to get frustrated with my husband, become short with him, and shut down our communication. This has happened several times before and it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the day. However, if I stop to check in with myself and ask: “what am I feeling? How can I ask him to help me? How can I notice that we both are doing our best to get us out the door and on with our day?” With this perspective, I am more likely to take some breaths and become a teammate with my husband instead of an adversary. Remembering to kiss him goodbye and wish him a good day (again, something that seemed so “natural” before children, but now sometimes gets forgotten) goes a long way.
And we try to do our best to check in with each other at the end of the day and list both three good things that happened that day as well as share any challenges that occurred. Above all else, we try to focus on gratitude for the lives we lead… and yes, even the stressful parts.
So tell me: what do YOU do to foster healthy communication with your partner?
How do you make time for one another if you have a busy household like I do?
What are some of the “essentials” that you make sure to do every day to remind each other of your love for one another?
Kate Daigle, MA, LPC is passionate about helping professional women and other high achievers overcome self-sabotage and unrealistic expectations. She helps her clients to heal their relationships with food, their bodies, and themselves so they can live a life that really matters to them and be free of destructive behaviors. She has a particular interest in supporting new parents adjust to life with new bodies, new expectations and new children. When Kate is not working, she is spending time with her husband, her young daughter, and her dog and can often be found planting in her garden. Read more articles about self-care as a new parent at www.katedaiglecounseling.com/blog.
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