Here is number nine in our series of posts based on Pamela Druckerman’s “Bébé Day by Day.” The following excerpts are taken directly from Chapter 9:
French experts say that in the first few months after the baby is born, his parents should—indeed must—give themselves over to his care. They’re in the fusionelle phase. Some call this, presidentially, the first hundred days.
But sometime around the three-month mark, parents are supposed to gradually make room for their own relationship again. There’s no fixed schedule. It’s more of a rebalancing in which they “relearn the contours of intimacy”—both physically and emotionally, and make space in the family home where they can be a couple.
81. Your baby doesn’t replace your husband: He’s cuddly, he’s adorable, and your mother loves him. But your child shouldn’t permanently nudge your partner out of the picture. A leading French parenting magazine says that if your libido hasn’t returned by four to six months postpartum, you should seek professional help.
82. Your bedroom is your castle: Guard it carefully. Your child doesn’t have the right to barge in whenever he wants. It’s also important for him to understand—through tender gestures and closed doors—that there’s a part of his parents’ lives that doesn’t involve him. If your child believes he already has it all—that there’s no mysterious adult world to aspire to—why should he bother growing up?
83. Be clear-eyed about how hard kids are on a relationship: The French swoon for babies, but they also talk about “le baby-clash”—the risk of couples’ separating in the first two years, from the shock of becoming coparents and of losing their freedom.
85. 50/50 isn’t the golden standard: Feeling entitled to absolute equality in housework and child care can be a recipe for resentment and rage. Fifty-fifty rarely happens. Try tempering your feminist theory with some old-fashioned French pragmatism. French women would love their partners to do more, but many make peace with a division of labor that isn’t equal but that more or less works.
87. Men, praise mom for her mastery of the mundane: Centuries of expert courtship have taught Frenchmen that you cannot overpraise a woman. They try to compensate for their shortcomings at home by marveling at the dull and time-consuming tasks their partners perform and by confessing that such multitasking is beyond them.
89. Make evenings adult time: After the stories, songs, and cuddles, French parents are firm about bedtime. They believe that having some kid-free time in the evenings is not an occasional privilege; it’s a fundamental human right.
90. Don’t put a teepee in your living room: The French know that it’s hard to enjoy adult time when you’re staring at a miniature kitchen. They typically don’t let children’s toys and games reside permanently in the living room. Don’t let baby-proofing be your dominant interior design motif.
*Due to length, I trimmed down each point and excluded some points entirely.