The months after your wedding—also known as the newlywed phase—are an exciting, wonderful time for couples. You’re still basking in that post-wedding glow and beginning to figure out how you and your partner are going to work together as a married couple. Depending on whether or not you lived together before your big day, there may be lots of practical things to figure out: What would you like the temperature of your home to be? Who will be in charge of what chores? What time do you like to go to bed or get up in the morning?
If you or your partner have children, however, there may be many, many more things to figure out as you learn to navigate this new phase of life with your happiness—and your sanity—still intact. Here are some ways to make this transition into new family life easier.
Go On a Couple-Only Honeymoon
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: make sure you go on a honeymoon as a couple before you jump right into family life! Not only do you and your partner need that time to be romantic and excited about your future together, it is also a great time to start discussing what you’d like your lives to look like now that you’re an official family. Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend focusing your honeymoon on creating family rules or chatting about kids’ chore charts, this alone time can be useful for starting to brainstorm and discuss what your ideas and hopes are. Having that one-on-one time to bond together will keep the newlywed glow about you, even as you’re beginning to dive into the nitty gritty of life with kids.
Once you do come back from your honeymoon and transition into the real world, make sure you and your partner are united in front of the children. United on rules, united on consequences, united on everything. It is extremely important for the kids to see you and your spouse presenting as a unit—it will show them that you have each other’s backs, no matter what, and this is crucial to helping a family grow and develop in a healthy way.
Make Decisions Out of Earshot of the Kids
Now, naturally, you and your partner are not always going to agree on everything. So how do you present a united front for the kids when you aren’t necessarily on the same page? Take a time out! Step into another room, or even message each other over text if you need to discuss a plan without the kids hearing it! Presenting a united front doesn’t mean you always have to agree, it just means you ask questions or express different opinions when you are away from the kids and can have an adult conversation about it.
Your new stepchild wants ice cream for dessert and your spouse said it was okay but you think it’s too late for that much sugar? Let it go for now, and later in the evening have a talk with your partner about why you’d rather the kids not have sweets that late at night. Once you’ve agreed on the issue, you can now present the rule change to the kids together, and you’re much less likely to see children playing the parental blame game—which, if not avoided, is a surefire way to lose that newlywed glow.
Spend Alone Time Together Regularly
Jumping into a family with children often means soccer games, parent/teacher conferences, after school clubs, music concerts, and field trips and before you know it, you and your partner never see each other! Particularly in the beginning of your married life, and especially if you have children in the home, it is crucial that you make alone time with your partner a priority. Maybe you could hire a sitter one night a week or even just meet each other for lunch one day during the workweek if evenings aren’t possible for your schedule! Remember that it is as important for the children to see a healthy relationship as it is for the adults to be in one—so take the time! It will keep everyone happier and your whole family will be better off!
Give Yourself a Break
Not only do you and your spouse need time together, but you each need some time alone, too. Marriage itself can be a giant adjustment, but when you add children to the mix? It can be intense and can bring up a lot of feelings and struggles that may not have been expected. Give yourself a break! Take some time to participate in hobbies or activities that you love, make sure you see your friends and family, or even just go be by yourself for a little bit! Alone time is essential and will be especially important as you’re learning to steer your way through both the newlywed phase and a whole new family dynamic!
Navigating the newlywed phase can be challenging enough, but doing so with children in the home can make things even more complicated—but even more wonderful, too! Just make sure you give yourself the proper tools to succeed, and your new family will be off in the right direction.