Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill and Julia Stone are three wives,
mothers and good friends, all muddling through the early
parenting years together, who couldn’t find the humorous,
down-to-earth book they needed to help them make sense of their
post-baby married lives. They couldn’t find it, so they wrote
the book they wanted to read and now have written this
no-nonsense article for readers of MetroplexBaby.com and our
BigCityMoms.com. Moms and dads, here's
HOW TO BABYPROOF
There is no
doubt that our children are our greatest joy and that we love
being parents more than anything in the world. But parenting
little ones can be pretty tough on a marriage. Are you and your
spouse enduring the inevitable challenges of early parenthood?
Do you see things differently now that you have kids? Are you
keeping score over the division of labor? Has managing the
demands of the in-laws and outlaws become a bit of a challenge?
What about activity in the bedroom? Has it come to a grinding
It might be
Babyproof Your Marriage and take some simple, but wildly
effective, actions to make sure that being parents doesn’t mean
sacrificing being a couple. Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill and
Julia Stone, co-authors of the bestselling book,
Babyproofing Your Marriage, share their top tips for
preserving your coupledom after you have kids:
|Realize You Are not
Relationship hiccups are completely normal when you’re
parenting small kids. So don’t panic! Most couples no
matter how happy and secure their relationship may be,
find the early parenting years a challenge.
Chances are, any
arguments you’re having with your husband are the same
arguments being played out in thousands of homes across
America! The realization that these issues are
universal, rather than personal, can change how you deal
with it. “Why are you doing this to me?" becomes “What
are we going to do about it?”
|Accept the Great
Mom/Dad Divide. Men and women react to parenthood in
different ways. We’re wired differently. Moms can get
compulsive as a Mommy Chip kicks in causing us to
focus on caring for offspring to the exclusion of all
else. Meanwhile many dads develop Provider Panic,
especially if they’re the sole breadwinners. Often this
means they don’t seem to notice whose turn it is to do
the dishes. These not-always-complementary instincts can
set the stage for some serious marital conflict. Dad
thinks his wife has turned into a control freak. Mom
thinks her husband just doesn’t get it. It’s important
to be aware of your own parenting instincts and realize
that occasionally, you may have to keep those instincts
in check a little bit. It also helps to hold your nose
and occasionally ignore a few of your partner’s
|Get Some Sleep.
can become a way of life.
It can turn the sanest of women into bottle-wielding
shrews, reduce grown men to tears, and cause both of you
to turn marital molehills into mountains. Don’t
underestimate the impact that sleep deprivation can have
on your relationship. Your ability to deal with everyday
stresses and your partner’s formerly-endearing quirks,
gets dangerously low when you’re trying to get by on a
wing and a prayer and a thirty-minute nap. Help each
other get enough sleep. Resist the urge to play
Midnight Chicken -- you know, the late night battle
of wills where each parent pretends to be asleep and
blissfully unaware of the screaming down the hall, in
the hopes that their other half will get up and tend to
the crying baby. Split up the night (for example, Dad
does feedings until midnight, Mom goes to bed early and
gets up after that) so that both of you get a solid
block of sleep. Occasionally, take turns doing all-night
baby duty and give your partner the ultimate gift - an
entire uninterrupted 8 hours of shut-eye.
Try a Training Weekend.
If you think you have a husband who ‘just doesn’t get
it,’ try this foolproof method to get him engaged: take
off for 48 hours and let him man the kid and house ropes
on his own. No backup. No dialing 1-800-Grandma. You’ll
catch a break and he’ll gain new respect for what it
takes to care for a baby. This technique will also let
him bond with the baby on his own terms. A lot of
guys complain that they’re relegated to the powerless
role of Assistant Mom. When you hand over the
reins, your husband gets a chance to be the father he
wants to be.
Have Training Weekends
early and as often as the baby changes and enters new
phases. A little continuing education is always a good
idea, for both of you.
||Stop Keeping Score.
With a baby in the house the workload explodes. It’s
hardly surprising that most of us start arguing with our
partner over who has it tougher. “I did seven loads
of laundry and you didn’t do any.” “Yeah, well I did all
the cooking last week ..” You both end up feeling
resentful and unappreciated. It’s a tit for tat war
that no one wins. Rip up the scorecards, hand in your
Martyr Badges and
Divide and Conquer. Make a list of everything that
must be done, from nightly bath duty to earning a living
and divvy it up.
Remember The Three A’s: Appreciation,
Acknowledgement and Affirmation.
Just pick one and run with it. Saying "good job" won't
kill you. Most people are simply looking for a little
validation. They’ll happily run that extra errand, wash
that extra load, or work that extra hour if they know
their effort is appreciated, rather than taken for
granted. So instead of saying, “You put the baby's
dress on backwards,” try, “You’re a great Dad,"
and see what happens.
||Manage the In-Laws:
Everyone wants a piece of the kid action. As a couple we
can find ourselves in a Family Tug of War
as parents and in-laws jockey for top billing. But when
Grannies grab and family members overstep the mark we
need to make it clear to them that our partner comes
Establish the Pecking Order and create appropriate
boundaries. And if you’re a Daddy’s Girl or
Mama’s Boy it’s time to Cut the Cord and put on
your grown-up shoes once and for all.
Bridge the Sex Gap.
Most couples with young children experience a disconnect
in the bedroom. A woman’s sex drive often goes MIA. Most
men, however, want sex just as much as they always have,
baby or no baby. Try to reach across the gap. Guys need
to pay attention to romance and stop the Ten O’Clock
Tap. Girls should try to reacquaint themselves with
the girl they used to be. Try a “dad on duty night” and
relax with a bath and/or glass of wine. You’ll be a lot
more receptive to the idea of sex if you’ve had a chance
to get out of Mommy Mode.
||Help Each Other Have
It All: Naturally, your free time gets squeezed when
you become a parent. But it’s more important than ever
to do the things that recharge you. When we don’t have a
little time to ourselves, we start to feel worn out and
we can become damn difficult to live with. You don’t
both have to be ON all the time. Figure out an
off-leash strategy with your partner. For example, he
takes the kids on Saturday morning while you go to yoga,
and you do the same for him on Sunday so he can get in a
jog. Give each other some Get Out of Jail Free Cards
on a regular basis.
Make Time for Each Other.
Try not to let your adult relationship be defined solely
by being parents. Put a little distance between
yourselves and the kids. Start with the local pizza
place and work your way up to a weekend away. Your
relationship is the lynchpin of the whole family. Where
there’s a healthy marriage, there are happy kids.
For more on Babyproofing Your
Marriage, go to