Whether you’re bickering over Smarties as a toddler treat or whose turn it is to get up for the night feed, learn how to avoid a parenting style clash with your partner.
You may have a clear idea about the right way to bring up your baby. Only thing is, you might find your partner doesn’t agree.
If your partner co-slept with mummy and had unlimited access to the biscuit jar, while you were a routine baby raised on discipline and home-cooking, chances are making joint decisions on your baby’s upbringing is a headache. But, you can get round it – and could discover a whole new level of respect for each other.
Your pre-baby values chat
It’s useless discovering your partner’s anti-formula just when you’re about to give your baby a bottle. Have a chat while you’re pregnant so you can learn each other’s views, especially on the big issues of feeding and discipline.
‘Even when you’re pregnant and parenting seems abstract and far away, look at baby books together and find a style you think will suit you both,’ says relationship psychologist Corinne Sweet.
Divide the baby chores
Most parents have had the ‘I’m more tired than you’ argument at 5.30am when your little one’s alert and ready for the day. You’re exhausted, both need a break and can quickly become resentful.
Neither of you are 100 per cent right or wrong
Draw up a diary of household tasks, making sure you both do the things you like as well as don’t like.
'If you love cooking and he’s happy to do the wake-up feed then allocate those tasks accordingly,’ says child psychologist Claire Halsey. ‘But allow for bad days too and try not to be rigid if one of you slips.’
Praise your partner
You’ll clap when your little one takes his first step or plays peek-a-boo, yet if your partner brings you a cuppa, he’ll be lucky to get a thank you. ‘Praising each other, even if you’re doing something small or expected, will make you both feel good,’ says Noel Janis-Norton, author of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting (£16.99, Hodder & Stoughton).
‘The more descriptive you can be, the better, so instead of just saying, “Thank you” when he cleans the kitchen, say, “I know you don’t like cleaning the kitchen so I really appreciate it.’ It’s an easy way to make you both feel better about the humdrum chores that have become a big part of your home life.
Have a date night
When you’re nit-picking over how to deal with your toddler’s biting habit (you: ignore it, him: bite back), you often forget what it was that made you fall in love in the first place.
‘Parenting can feel all-consuming and it’s easy for you to drift into a flatmate-type relationship and wonder if this is all there is,’ says Noel. ‘Going out every week just the two of you and trying to not talk too much about the baby should remind you why you’re with each other. It will also make you more willing to listen to each other when you disagree.’
Whether you’re heading out for a date night or having some couple time at home, there are plenty of cute ways to be romantic.
You may be more slummy mummy while he’s in the Gina Ford corner, but neither of you are 100 per cent right or wrong. ‘No one knows how to parent perfectly, so be open to learning from each other,’ says Corinne. ‘You’ll both have different strengths – perhaps he might be better at play and you better at discipline. Just work out a way to parent that you’re both happy with.
If you’re having daily stand-offs and can’t see your way out, set aside 15 minutes a day to work out a solution.
‘Take it in turns to boil down the problem into one sentence, for example, your baby taking an hour to settle at bedtime, then come up with a solution and write it down,’ says Noel. ‘When you don’t agree, come up with a different solution until you both discover a way that’s acceptable for both of you.’