While G and I share similar goals and dreams, our approach to achieving those can vary widely. He's more pragmatic and logical, often ignoring how something makes him feel, but finding comfort in a quick solution. I'm more cautious about the process, making sure to account for the emotional context of an outcome. It's an important balance we share and something we discussed a lot as Sloan's arrival approached. We wanted to have a general outline of the type of parents we wanted to be, without creating rules or strict guidelines. After eight months, our initial approach has evolved to these basic tenets.
1. Chill Parents, Chill Baby: Whenever things start going sideways and one of us is about to lose it, we repeat this mantra to each other. Babies feed off your energy, so if you're tense, they'll mirror that emotion. When we flew up to San Francisco a few months back and there were multiple delays, G just kept whispering to me "chill parents..." anytime I started getting panicky. Considering we have more control over the way we act than we do over external situations, this approach has helped defuse many potential breakdowns (on both our part and Sloan's).
2. Don't Subscribe to Timelines: Every baby is different, so while there are some general milestones that you may read or hear about, unless there's something your doctor is telling you to focus on, don't worry about when your baby is supposed to be doing a certain act. It's really easy to get caught up and worry about when they're going to crawl/talk/walk, etc., but in the end, you're putting more stress on yourself and the baby, rather than focusing on the present.
3. Make Time for Each Other: It's almost impossible not to have a baby consume every waking moment of the day, but don't forget about who you were before their arrival. It's crucial to make your relationship with your spouse just as important as your new role as a parent. Plan date nights, or (sometimes even better), give your partner a night off. It's hard to balance in the beginning, but with a little effort, you'll find it's an important element to maintaining a strong bond and makes you a better partner.
4. Be Fluid: Early on we subscribed to a rigid feeding/eating schedule, which I believe lead Sloan to start sleeping through the night after 11 weeks. However, that schedule also caused us to eliminate any events which would conflict, thinking that one small change to her routine would derail everything. Over time, we found that if she missed a certain nap, she'd make it up later. If she wasn't in the mood to eat, she'd be fine. Babies' needs are pretty basic and while a schedule can be effective, they aren't going to fall apart if you mix things up.
I'd love to hear some of your early parenthood experiences and insights.