It goes without saying: Bringing a baby into the world isn’t easy.
Things are even more complicated for couples adjusting to parenthood after the birth of their first child.
No matter how ready you and your partner are, the fact is that you’ll both have to break old habits—and make new ones—to adjust to your new life as parents. Not all habits are created equal, though, and some need to be avoided to preserve your relationship and your wellbeing.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to form bad habits without even realizing you’re doing it.
That’s why it’s important to be proactive in establishing positive ones and watching out for routine behavior that’s less than desirable. Once you’re accustomed to doing things a certain way, it can be extremely difficult to make a change, whether baby is teething or suddenly all grown up and headed off to kindergarten.
Here are three habits that can ruin your relationship after having a baby—and ways to combat them.
1. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Yes, it’s inevitable that there will be some sleepless nights. And unfortunately you’re probably not going to be getting that comfy eight or nine hours you might be used to. With that said, it’s important for both you and your partner to support one another in getting enough sleep.
Lack of sleep can make you grumpy, forgetful, and generally stressed out—none of which is good for nurturing a child or a relationship.
One of the best strategies is for the two of you to alternate nights getting up with your newborn—one night on, one night off. It still won’t be pleasant, but at least it will ensure close to a full night’s sleep every other night.
2. Losing the Romance
It’s an unavoidable fact that you aren’t going to have the same amount of time, money, and energy to devote to your partner once baby comes along. But that doesn’t mean that you have to neglect the more romantic side of your relationship.
Instead of getting in the habit of ignoring this important element of your life, find new ways to express your love for and attraction to your partner. Instead of a hurried peck on the cheek on the way out the door, take the extra 10 seconds to give your partner a real kiss.
Keep a pad of Post-It notes handy and leave each other sweet notes every once in a while. Remember to compliment each other about things you appreciate in the now instead of romanticizing your bodies, nights out, or habits before baby came along.
3. Not Getting Time Alone
While it’s important to keep the flame alive after baby arrives, it’s also important to get some time to yourself every now and then. You’ve gone from a family of two to a family of three (or more!), and adjusting to having a tiny new person in your space isn’t easy.
You’re far less likely to get annoyed and irritated by your partner or baby if the two of you are able to schedule some time for each other to be alone. Even if it’s just a short walk around the neighborhood, some solo time can go a long way toward keeping you and the rest of the family happy, healthy, and relaxed.