Wednesday, November 13, 2013

BFBN week: balancing marriage and parenthood & keeping the crazy to a minimum

It's Babywise Friendly Blog Network week!  All week, each of us will be sharing posts on the same topic and directing our readers to the different blogs in the network.  Here's the schedule for the week:

Monday:  Valerie from Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
Tuesday:  Maureen from Childwise Chat
Wednesday:  Claire from My Devising and Elaine from Faithfully Infertile
Thursday:  Emily from Journey of Parenthood
Friday:  Rachel from A Mother Far From Home

Today, the Babywise Network is featuring my post today as well as Elaine's post about keeping the crazy to a minimum.  She gives several practical tips for newborn moms to help the family establish order and consistency.  Elaine shares about how Babywise has worked for her family and why she loves it so much.  "Because every activity has its time and place, it is easier to keep priorities where they should be."  No, Babywise doesn't fix everything, but it does lay a good foundation so you can focus on keeping your marriage relationship in high rank of importance.  Read her entire post here!

There's this cute thing some of us do before we become parents:  We have theories and methods and ideas on exactly how we're going to parent because, naturally, it's going to be the best and most revolutionary way anyone has ever parented ever before.

Then we become parents and our world turns upside down and everything is different.  Parenthood is a tough thing to enter into.

But marriage?  That was easy!  Getting married was awesome and fun.  Like any other couple, Colt and I spent our first year figuring each other out.  We didn't live together before we were married, so we had to decide on things like how to put the toilet paper on the roll or what brand of bread we were going to buy or how we were going to decorate and share a space that looked uni-sex enough.  We spent nights arguing about dumb things and going to bed mad and then forgetting what we fought about.

Of course, we've come across much bigger disagreements and conflicts in the past four years than in our first year together.  But the hope with marriage is that you're dealing with another adult.  (Even if you're both not acting like adults.)  It's tough work to move past things.  But with two people who are willing, mature, and able to eventually admit their faults, it can be a functional and life-giving relationship.

Yes, marriage is hard work.  But becoming a parent is like no other work I've ever known.  In a battle of New Marriage vs. New Baby, New Baby wins. 

I used to think adding a baby into your life would be exactly that - just adding one in.  Just throw it into the mix!  But you can't really go on with life as usual - at least for a while.  Nursing, sleep-deprivation, dealing with severe acid reflux, napping schedules, introducing baby food, etc.  It felt like absolute chaos to me.  Getting used to taking care of a child is a pretty unique life transition.  For us, it was a much bigger transition than putting rings on our fingers.

And just when you think you've figured the new baby thing out, you remember something.  There's a guy over there that's helping me with stuff and I think I'm in love with him but I can't quite remember.  Wife can easily get consumed with all things baby and husband can easily get lost in the fog of it all.  Working on your marriage while doing the baby thing is tricky.

I love that Babywise discusses the balance of marriage and family in the very first chapter of the book.
"The husband-wife union is not just a good first step towards child-rearing.  It is a necessary one."  - Babywise

"When there is harmony in the marriage, there is an infused stability within the family.  A strong marriage provides a haven of security for children as they grow in the nurturing process.  Healthy, loving marriages create a sense of certainty for children."  - Babywise
(I don't think I need to clarify this, but I will just in case.  This isn't claiming that children are only secure when two parents are present.  The principles discussed in the book can be applied in all families.)

It's easy to say that your marriage comes first before you actually have kids.  It's harder to carry it out once a baby or toddler is begging for your attention.

In trying to keep our family life marriage-based first and kid-based second, this is what's worked for us:

1.  We talk to each other.  Communication is a must.  If we can't get a moment alone, we explain to Duke that mommy and daddy need to talk for a little bit - whether it's at the dinner table after Duke's finished eating or on the couch while he plays with his toys or after Duke's in bed.  We have to catch each other up on our days.  (And it's not like Duke nods his head delightfully and says, "Yes, mother.  I understand!"  Sometimes it's tricky to get him occupied with another activity, but it's important to us.)

2.  We hug, kiss, and show love to each other in front of Duke.  He needs to know that we aren't just two random people that are here on this earth only to be his parents.  We love that job and wouldn't trade it, but we also love each other and want our relationship as husband and wife to thrive.

3.  We get away.  We go on dates and we go on trips.  And we don't feel guilty about it.  Yes, it's hard and yes, sometimes I've cried, but it's so worth it.  Why?  I still feel like I know and understand Colt.  In fact, I feel like we're communicating better than we ever have.  Dealing with a little stress to get away is worth it.

Obviously, I don't have all the answers.  I've only been a wife for 5 years, mom for 2 years, and I've only got one child.  But for now, from where I stand, this is what keeps our family life balanced.

What works for you?


  1. Yes to #1, #2, and #3! Thanks for the reminder that the stress of going on dates and getting away is worth it. We are so fortunate to have my mom close by and she loves taking care of Ben, but I still feel guilty about that.

    I wrote a post a while back about marriage after baby, and I also mentioned that for control freaks like myself, it's so important to not treat your husband like the babysitter. He is the father, and he might change the diaper differently (or whatever) but it doesn't mean it's wrong. So important to show respect and love to your husband in front of your kids (which I know you guys do!)

  2. Great post, Claire. You and Colt have such a great marriage. I can't imagine what it will be like to balance everything when you have a new baby, but knowing that you have a great foundation of a marriage is definitely a good thing!


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