Keeping the Peace - Four Things New Parents Argue Over

Raising a baby is a two-parent job, and it’s easy to get frustrated when you think your spouse isn’t pulling their own weight and helping out properly. Even if both of you are doing the best that you can, sleep deprivation, crankiness, and lack of alone-time can leave both you and your partner on edge, resulting in tiffs and frequent arguments that could be easily avoided. Here are some things you and your partner might argue about and how to overcome them:

Whose turn it is to take care of the baby at night:

Sleep becomes a rare commodity when a new baby joins the family, and night vigilance becomes a regular affair that can spark arguments between spouses regarding who deserves to get more sleep and whose turn it is to take care of the crying baby. Don’t fall into the trap of pointlessly arguing about who’s more tired; you probably both need to rest just as much as the other.

Instead, look into getting help from a babysitter, a live-in maid, or other family members to share the burden of midnight baby care, or arrange it so that both you and your partner take structured shifts in caring for your baby. If one parent has a day job, have the stay-at-home parent take over midnight feedings during weekdays while the working parent handles weekends and gives the stay-at-home parent time to sleep-in in the morning. If both parents work, take 4-hour alternating shifts throughout the night, or arrange it so that one parent is on duty one night, and off duty the next, and so on.

Pushing the baby onto the other parent when it starts crying:

Does your partner quickly hand you the baby every time your child needs to be changed, fed, or soothed? While it might seem like your partner is only taking care of the baby when your little one is quiet or in a good mood, they might not be doing it on purpose. Sometimes your spouse might simply be at a loss at how to comfort a crying baby, so work with your partner to teach them how to handle the baby and develop routines where both of you take turns to take care of your child’s needs. 

For example, divvy up baby care chores between you and your partner, giving the daddy baby bathing duties to get the baby used to him. If your child protests whenever you try to hand them over to your spouse, spend a bit of time playing with both your spouse and the baby, then calmly withdraw and leave your child with daddy for a while. Do this on a regular basis to get your child used to spending time alone with dad.

Questioning what the other spouse spends their days doing:

Ever get frustrated when your partner questions what you’ve been doing all day when they see that areas of the house are still in shambles? Taking care of a single baby is time consuming and demanding to say the least, and a person who hasn’t spent a day experiencing the challenges of taking care of a young baby single-handedly wouldn’t understand how difficult it can be to also take care of different house chores simultaneously.

While your instinctive reaction to your spouse’s accusing tone might be to turn defensive, hold back and wait until your child is sleeping to sit down and calmly discuss the matter with your spouse. Explain to them the situation and work together to find a solution.

Dealing with new chores and growing responsibilities

Babies mean new chores, new responsibilities, and more to do at every level, so it’s understandable for new parents to feel overwhelmed at the sudden increase in their daily tasks. If the peace is to be kept at home, you and your partner are going to need to communicate openly together in order to figure out who needs help with what. People aren’t mind readers, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed you’re going to have to speak up to get the support you need, otherwise your frustration will build up and escalate into a potentially huge argument with your unsuspecting partner. 

Be patient and be specific, explaining that you need help because you’re feeling overwhelmed and explain exactly what you need help with, such as asking your partner to do the dishes while you do the laundry or vacuum the house. One good system to try out is to divide the household chores between you, so that you’re in charge of specific house chores while your partner takes over other particular house chores.