What Changes to Expect When Growing Your Family

Growing your family is an exciting time! Here's what to expect!

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Landis

Having a new baby is a big decision. Whether you’re becoming first-time parents or adding another little one to an already full household, you know a new child can bring many changes to your lifestyle, relationships and finances.

Though it may take time to adjust to your growing family, knowing what to expect can help you enjoy the process. After all, raising a baby is hectic enough without having to worry about unexpected developments.

Consider this your guide to navigating the unique challenges of having a new child — you can prepare for these four changes when growing your family.

1. Shifting Tensions in Your Relationship

Having a baby can serve as a milestone in any relationship. When you and your partner become parents, you may feel closer than ever, drawn together by the tiny bundle of joy who needs your attention.

However, it’s also true that many couples experience increased or changing tensions after bringing home a new member of the family. For biological parents, some of these changes might be influenced by hormones. However, having a new child in the house can lead to new challenges whether that child is biological, fostered or adopted.

Common challenges couples face include increased stress caring for the new child, difficulty finding time to spend alone, and conflicts over how to raise the child. In general, after having a new baby, parents’ attention may shift away from their romantic relationship as they care for the kid and settle into their new roles.

Though changes in relationships after having a new child are very normal, they may feel stressful or lead to issues if a couple ignores them. To avoid unnecessary tension, it’s a good idea to prevent potential conflicts before they occur.

For example, you might designate a day of the week for date nights and establish the division of care duties before you bring your little one home. If necessary, you could also seek professional help through counseling, either before or after your family size increases.

2. Changing Sibling Dynamics

If you already have one or more children, you’re likely prepared for changes in your relationship with your partner. However, you may also want to consider possible shifts in sibling dynamics when bringing home a second — or third, or fourth — child.

Though it may seem like an exaggeration, older siblings might take some time to adjust to their new roles as big brother or sister. As parents, you may also see your relationships with your other children shift somewhat.

Changes vary from family to family, since every child and parent relationship is unique. Commonly, though, mothers and first children grow apart following the birth of a new child. The older sibling may become more independent or the mother more preoccupied with the new baby, for example.

The age difference between your kids could also affect how kids react to becoming siblings. Some kids may love the opportunity to be a guardian or role model for their little sibling, while others may feel jealous or annoyed by the baby.

Though changing dynamics with older kids can be emotionally stressful for both parents and children, you can ease this stress by preparing for them. Seek help for specific challenges like sleeping issues and be sure to spend quality time with older siblings after the new arrival.

3. New Demands on Your Time

Another change to expect when growing your family involves increased demands on your time. Most new parents know that raising a kid takes a lot of time and effort, but many underestimate just how many new people and responsibilities will end up vying for their attention.

In addition to time spent feeding the new baby, changing diapers and not sleeping, parents may also find themselves stretched thin by new demands on their time. Ironically, these new demands may not always come from the baby.

Following the birth or adoption of a new child, it’s natural for family members and friends to drop in for you to show off your child. Visitors can help parents with babysitting and by providing gifts and support. However, they may also tire you out, especially if you’re continually receiving calls from people you don’t see very often usually.

Make sure to save time for yourself as you adjust to having a new baby in the house, especially in the first few weeks and months. Remember, you’re not required to entertain others during this time.

4. Developing Responsibilities

In addition to many relationship changes, you may also plan for financial challenges after having a baby. You’ll want to adjust your budget and consider the number of legal and financial responsibilities that come with having a child, like if you will be considering sending your child to a home-based or center-based childcare facility or if you or your partner will be taking time off to ease the financial burden.

Before you bring your new baby home, it’s a good idea to take care of the more boring tasks associated with having a kid. For example, you and your partner may want to create or edit your will, nominate a guardian for your child or even set up a college fund if you’re ahead of the game.

You can always adjust to new responsibilities as they occur, but you can save yourself time and stress by managing at least a few of these developments ahead of time.

Handle Family Changes Like a Pro

Growing your family comes with a lot of changing dynamics and responsibilities. By knowing what to expect and planning ahead, you can handle these family changes like a pro, whether you’ve done this before or are just getting started.

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