Planning to Grow Your Family – Part 1

Are you and your spouse expecting a child? What about planning for future children? Either way, it’s going to be important for the two of you to put your heads together and start making plans for the coming changes.

Adding children to your family, whether it’s your first child or your fifth, always brings change, and that’s a wonderful thing. But if you and your spouse haven’t discussed the everyday things that will inevitably shift, you need to start communicating as early as you can. Having a plan for how you’ll handle daily obligations and resolve potential conflicts will help the two of you feel confident as you enter this new season.

Whether you’re already expecting a child or simply planning ahead, it’s important to have an idea of what roles you and your spouse will play in the changing family dynamic. Of course, you can’t predict every aspect of life as it evolves, and there’s beauty in that. Parenting is unpredictable by its nature, but that’s part of the adventure.

As parents, working as a team is essential. There’s no guarantee that the plans you make now will help you avoid all major setbacks, and they likely won’t. But if you work together to anticipate possible issues and talk through solutions ahead of time, you may find these challenges easier to navigate as they arise.

Today’s post is the first of a two-part series on planning to grow your family. If you’re wondering about some of the important topics you and your spouse should tackle before you become parents (or have another child), we have some tips to share.

Let’s get into it.

Share and Negotiate Expectations

Unspoken and unmet expectations create more tension in marriages than many people realize. This is also true when it comes to parenting. It’s important for you and your spouse to talk about your expectations for parenthood so that you have plenty of time to discuss–and likely negotiate–what each of you should actually be expecting.

Each child is different, and it’s impossible to predict exactly what your life will look like once he or she has arrived. There’s a long list of variables you could encounter that pull the rug from under your expectations. If the two of you haven’t been open with one another about what you think this new season will be (or should be) like, it could be more difficult to navigate the curveballs life throws at you.

Each of the tips that follow build onto this one, so keep that in mind as you continue reading.

Discuss How to Divide Responsibilities

The way you currently divide responsibilities might work for you now, but could be unsustainable once you’ve had a child. Leave plenty of room for making changes, and try not to be too rigid about how you work together to accomplish things from one day to the next. It’s important to set the expectation that the distribution of tasks and obligations may need to change, at least for a little while.

Talk About Making Time For Your Marriage

Many couples don’t realize how much additional time it takes to care for children, especially babies. You might be blindsided by how challenging it becomes to find that one-on-one time you used to enjoy. If you don’t have a strong support network of caregivers around you, that can further complicate the situation.

You and your spouse will need to communicate about making time to prioritize your marriage…before the baby arrives. Set expectations and, if you can, line up trusted friends or family members who can help babysit once in a while so you can prioritize that time. Nurturing your marriage remains important, even after kids come along.

Talk About Your Own Childhood Experiences

What was life like in your home growing up? What about your spouse’s? The parenting practices you were both exposed to could influence your parenting once you have children. Likewise, any unhealthy dynamics from your childhood might motivate you to actively avoid creating the same experiences for your kids.

Talk openly about your childhoods. It’s likely that you already have, but revisiting those memories now could help you work together to intentionally build the healthy dynamic you both want to experience–for yourselves and your children, too.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

Next week, we’re continuing our series on growing your family, so stay tuned! In the meantime, if you’d like additional parenting resources, check out our book, The Parent You Want to Be. It’s a guide to helping you embody the kind of parent you want to be for your children. Get your copy here.

Do you and your spouse have kids? If you could go back in time, how might you have better prepared yourself? What would you tell your younger self about parenting today? Share your stories in the comments.

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