At first glance, having a baby and going on a honeymoon may appear to have nothing in common. One is a fabulous vacation and the other is a decidedly unglamorous jumble of sleep deprivation, spit-up covered clothing, and never-ending laundry. But when it comes down to it, both mark a major transition in life that are a time of intense focus on a love that will last a lifetime, or so we hope.
Below are four lessons we can learn from honeymoons to help us embrace that first year with a new baby.
1. It’s ok if you never want to be apart.
When you are on your honeymoon, chances are relatives and friends aren’t pressuring you to have a day apart, or a night apart, or to make sure you don’t forget who you are as an individual. Having some time apart and maintaining a sense of yourself as an individual is important, but everyone knows that the honeymoon is not the time for that. The same is true when you bring home a new baby. Babyhood is the honeymoon phase of a lifelong relationship. It’s not the time to schedule time apart, unless that is your preference. There will be plenty of time for time apart when your child is older. Of course, many mothers have to return to work an appallingly short time after giving birth, especially in the U.S., and paternity leave is virtually non-existent. Add that to the list of reasons why trying to encourage additional time apart isn’t always healthy.
2. You don’t have to worry about starting bad habits.
During your honeymoon you might order room service every day, sleep in late, lounge around most of the day, and throw schedules out of the window. No one tells you that if you don’t start your marriage with 6am wake-ups now, you are never going to be able to get to work on time when you are back home. Everyone knows that a honeymoon is a short and fleeting time to relax and focus on your relationship, not preparation for what’s going to happen after five years of marriage. The same is true for babyhood. It’s a short and fleeting time that will soon morph into a more complicated reality. Go ahead hold your baby for naps, breastfeed to sleep, or whatever else it is that makes your lives a little more relaxing and peaceful.
3. Do you what YOU want to do.
Some people want to honeymoon on a tropical beach and others want a sightseeing tour. Others may prefer a staycation spent relaxing at home. As long as you are both happy, there is no wrong way to honeymoon. No one would tell a couple who is excited about their ski trip that the correct way to honeymoon is to go on a cruise. What’s important is that the experience works for the two of you. The same is true of babyhood. There are lots of ways to be a good parent. If you and your baby are happy and healthy, you are doing it right.
4. It isn’t always a fairy tale.
Honeymoons have a reputation of being blissful getaways during which you bask in love and perfect lighting. In truth, it doesn’t always work out that way. Maybe you couldn’t afford to go anywhere, or you traveled but your luggage got lost and it rained the entire time. Maybe you got frustrated with each other and ended up arguing. Babyhood similarly has a reputation for being a blissful time when you bask in the glow of new motherhood (it’s unclear whether the mythical glow applies to new fathers), but as anyone who has had a child knows, that is not the reality. There is very little glow, unless you count the light of your phone in a dark room as you try to stay awake through another middle of the night feeding. Not everyone revels in the early days of marriage or babyhood. If it isn’t a fairy tale, that’s ok.