Preparing Your Marriage For A Baby

Preparing Your Marriage For A Baby
Hi Friends! I’m so excited to share with you all the steps I took as our family prepared to welcome home our fourth baby in October 2021. For those of you who are subscribed to receive my monthly newsletters, you will have already read about my experience and advice. But if not, I think this information is worthy of a spot on the blog to encourage other families in a similar transition. If you want to stay up to date with newsletters as they come, subscribe here.
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She was born on October 20th. 7 pounds, 13 ounces. 21.5 inches long. 
She’s so perfect and the best little gift we could ever ask for!
I am sure nicknames will come over time, but we are loving calling her Alberta 💗


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As I write this, I am 38 weeks pregnant and have been thinking so much about preparing our home and family for this baby. But you know what I wasn’t expecting? How much I would be caring about preparing my marriage for this 4th baby. Perhaps it has come with the experience of having three before this one, or perhaps it’s coming from a place of anxiety about the expected demands of four kids. Either way, I have been thinking about and communicating with Nate about what this next season will actually look like more than ever before. 
Luckily, much of the amazing lessons I have gleaned from other women along the way that have greatly blessed my marriage have also come in handy as we prepare for this new baby. 
I am in no way a marriage expert, but I care deeply about helping my marriage to thrive amidst the chaos of having young kids. The last thing I want is to be fighting with my husband while also trying to navigate a new season. Nate and I do not do this perfectly, and we both have to apologize for being buttheads often. We all know this: no marriage is perfect. With that being said, I want to share a few bits of wisdom I have received over the last few years that have been really, really helpful for me. 
In this blog post, we will discuss:
1. Heavily prioritizing dates on the front end
2. Seeing 5-8pm as the “Second Shift”
3. Being the House Manager {and grace for the spouse who isn’t}
*DISCLAIMER: I am writing this from the place of a being a Stay at Home Mom (yes, I work on all things NTK but I would still consider myself a SAHM in terms of what I am in charge of and the hours I am home with the kids). I have a husband who works full-time outside the home. That is my experience. If you are reading this as a single parent, it likely won’t apply to you and will not be helpful. If you are reading this as a single parent, you are doing the hardest job I could imagine and have my utmost admiration and respect. 


Heavily prioritizing dates on the front end

In the last 6 weeks leading up to my due date, Nate and I decided to go on a date a week. SIX DATES! Yes, we had to plan for this. Yes, it was expensive. But in the end we knew it would be infinitely worth it in terms of how it would bless our marriage. Also, we knew spending that much money on sitters and eating out would end up leveling out because we likely wouldn’t go for a date for a month or two post baby. 
These weekly dates gave us a chance to laugh and to remember that we aren’t just co-parents. We are friends! We love each other! They also gave us a chance to talk about logistics. To make lists of names we loved and decide on some winners. To talk about what we were excited for and what we were nervous for. 
All in all, these dates gave us a chance to know each other better in this specific phase of life we are in, and I know it will pay off immensely in loving each other well after this new baby comes. 

Seeing 5-8pm as the Second Shift

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This bit of wisdom comes from my dear friend Erin Colby, back when we attended Good Shepherd Wednesday morning Bible study in Durham, NC. I have no idea why this topic came up, but Erin explained that she and her husband Robbie both worked all day in their respective jobs, and then saw 5-8pm as the second shift for both of them. She went on to explain that as a stay at home mom, it can be easy to resent your spouse when they come home from the office and want to rest. How dare they! You have been with the kids all day. You need the rest! Likewise, as the husband, you can resent coming home from a long day at the office and being expected to jump right in at home. You have been working all day! Can’t she see you just need some time to sit?!
Enter: The Second Shift
The second shift gives validity to the jobs of both parties, while also recognizing that there is a second shift that requires workers. One partner might work hard all day long outside the home while the other works hard inside the home. Regardless of the demands of each person’s particular job, 5-8pm is a second shift for both. The responsibilities might be divided, but both are on the clock and needed. You each worked first shift at your respective jobs, and now you both clock in for the 5-8 shift.
This might look like your spouse coming to you after dinner and saying: “Hey sweetheart, would you rather do the dishes or bathtime?” 
Both need to be done in the second shift. 
And hey, if you have more margin, maybe only one person is needed for the second shift and you switch off who gets a night off! But at the end of the day, this mindset is about recognizing that both parties are likely exhausted and want a break. But there’s a second shift both are signed up to work and needed for. 
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Being the House Manager {and grace for the spouse who isn’t}

This next piece of wisdom was worked out in conversation with some of my best friends, and it is something I cannot get out of my head. We were talking (and complaining) about how frustrating it can be to have a husband who is constantly asking questions about things that go along with the daily tasks of running the household. One of my friends had the amazing insight that if any of us were to go to the place where our spouse works, it would be ridiculous for said spouse to be frustrated with us for not knowing where the paper clips were, or what time we usually take lunch, or how to work the copier. 
The reason it wouldn’t be fair for our spouse to get annoyed with us if we had questions about these things is because it isn’t out primary place of work. It isn’t where we spend the bulk of our time and energy. 
And yes, I know to a certain extent the spouse who isn’t home should still know where the silverware is kept and when the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, etc. (*Remember, the Second Shift requires both parties to be all hands on deck.) But I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to memorize the intricate schedule you keep while they are away at work. 
This mindset shift has been so helpful for me when it comes to talks around the house with Nate, and has greatly changed how I have been preparing him for this fourth baby. Nate is a very, very hands on dad. He also helps a ton in the kitchen with dishes, trash, etc. But that doesn’t mean he knows what needs to be packed in the girls book bags, or what time the carpool line begins for John Robert. He doesn’t ever do those things, so why would I expect him to know those details any more than he would expect me to know the details of what he does at work. 
What I have tangibly been doing to help him is making lists and schedules that are all being taped to the front of the fridge. A checklist for JR’s bookbag. One for the girls’ bags. A daily schedule with all the drop off and pick up times. Phone numbers for both kids schools. All in one place. All easy for him to access and stay on track for the things he will be helping with in those first few weeks postpartum while he works from home.
At the end of the day, I am the House Manager. I order groceries when we are low, I keep tabs on the daily schedule. It’s not worth it for me to resent him for not knowing things that aren’t part of his daily schedule. Instead, I am trying to set him up for success as the Interim House Manager (I will be sure to have some sort of ceremony to bestow on him this highly esteemed title). 
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The fridge is acting as our command center. All the info Nate (or anyone else stepping in to help with the kids) will need is right here. This has proven so helpful with our communication in this insanely busy season. 
Alright everyone. Thank you for reading! As always, I welcome your responses and will likely make my way through them at a much slower pace this go around. Please forgive me if I do not respond. Blame the newborn sleep deprivation!