By Alison Cupp Relyea
For many new parents, the anticipation you feel when you are expecting your child is matched only by the anticipation of your parents, particularly if they are becoming grandparents for the first time. Having a child is a family affair, as it should be, but it is also a defining moment for you and your partner as your own nuclear family takes shape. No matter how many months or years you were together as a couple prior to this, having a baby changes the dynamic of your partnership. It also brings extended families into the relationship in ways that are new and different, and worthy of discussion.
It is a blessing if you have family nearby, and family members who are willing to help you and your child are an even greater gift. Sometimes, however, managing your own needs and priorities with those of other family members can be tricky, even in this exciting time. Doing three simple things can help you manage everyone’s expectations and create positive, stress-free relationships.
Discuss your family dynamics. When you were dating or even first married, some of your family quirks may have been comical or annoying, but once there is a child involved and things have the potential to become a bit more stressful, they become personal or highly inconvenient. Talking about small conflicts as they arise and expressing your needs with your partner will help you both feel heard and will enable you to make plans that work for your new family.
Make time for your small family. You may feel as though you and your partner see a great deal of each other these days, but with increased responsibilities, it is probably not the same quality time that you used to spend together. When you have a free day, do not feel as though you have to make plans with family members. Carve out time for the two of you, alone and with your child.
Start some new family traditions. While holidays and birthdays are often occasions for extended family and might already be full of traditions, there are ways to infuse new traditions into your life. Giving one gift to your child each year, such as a limited-edition book, a beautiful baby blanket, a teacup or a handmade craft can be a wonderful way for you to pass something precious on to your child. Simpler traditions can be woven into your everyday life, such as baking every weekend or visiting a different park or playground once a month. These gestures, while they might seem small, are important. They will begin to shape your journey together and your child will come to see them as part of what makes you a family.