04 Oct Bringing Baby Home
“Babies don’t change your life. They give you a whole new one”.
When you have a baby everything changes. Your sense of purpose, who you are, and both parents are affected by this moment. The transition to parenthood is challenging. While there is excitement and anticipation of the arrival of the new baby, it is also a time of significant adjustment. As new parents you are juggling sleeping and feeding schedules, postpartum recovery, and a whole lot of other fun! Through this period of transition the familiar patterns in relationships change. Responsibilities and stress increase. There is perhaps an increase of frustration which can lead to conflict, intimacy problems, and communication difficulties.
Dr. John and Julie Gottman designed a psycho-educational workshop called Bringing Baby Home. The material covered is based on over 30 years of relationship research done by Dr. John Gottman. This workshop focuses on helping couples maintain intimacy, change conflict patterns, facilitate father involvement and promote positive parenting with the goal of optimising their infant’s development.
The window pane:
I want to share some relationship enhancing strategies that couples will learn in the Bringing Baby Home workshop. With the couples that I work with I use the metaphor of a window pane to describe the healthiness of a relationship. At the beginning of a relationship the window pane is clear and shiny. As the relationship grows, the stress and life transitions cause the window to get a little smudgy. The view through the window is not as clear but things are still going okay within the relationship. When a child is born, keeping the window clean becomes harder because it is no longer the top priority. The smudges in the window pane increase. It may be a lot harder to have date nights or perhaps to watch Netflix together because of the new responsibilities that a baby brings. This does not mean it is all doom and gloom in the relationship: you’re in a new phase that all new parents enter.
How to clean the window pane:
The motto of the Bringing Baby workshops are “small things often”. Small everyday events such as wiping the kitchen counter, or expressing appreciation can help with the daily maintenance of clearing away some smudges on the window pane.
Other ways to clean the window pane is to look at how to handle conflict when they occur. This is really hard and messy because yucky emotions get in the way and both parents have to put in the effort. It starts with listening, validating, and understanding. This means that you have to give up the position of being right and to accept influence from your partner, to work as a team in unity and solidarity.
Over time when life gets busy the window may become more messy and dirty, but there will be times when the window will get cleaned regularly. Attending a Bringing Baby Workshop creates a shared, connected experience. It is wonderful to see the window pane clear and shiny, and to find joy and connection through that view. Staying attuned and doing “small things often” helps parents and families thrive together. And according to Dr. John Gottman “the greatest gift you can give your child is a strong relationship between you and your partner.”
If you would like to attend a Bringing Baby Home Workshop please contact Sarah here.
Sarah Harwood MA MACA
Sarah is a marriage, child and family psychotherapist, and is a Bringing Baby Home educator. She is married and is the mother of two children.