Preparing Your Partnership For Postpartum (and Parenting Multiple Kids) with Ashley Brichter


00:00:00    Alyssa

Yeah, so then you have a baby and unlike having your first baby where you're like, oh my gosh, I know nothing about this baby. Now you have a little bit more benefit to like, okay, I've been through something like this before, right? But you've maybe never been like leaking milk and really sore and finding it hard to go to the bathroom while somebody wants you to read a story or make a cake or walk them to school. 


00:01:27    Alyssa

Correct, your have fluids coming out of all holes and they're like, mama, mama, yeah, yeah, really looking forward to that. 


00:07:38    Ashley

Yeah, I think, you know, in the connection between the work that we each do, I think one of the biggest things is like, what prep work and practice and modeling can you do ahead of time? So if your kid might sleep at somebody else's house, can you guys have a sleepover before the actual birth, right? If your partner is gonna be taking your kid to school more often, can that start happening before the birth? And I think what's really interesting about that, and I will just say from personal experiences, that was the hardest part for me. The physical recovery was fine. Feeding was fine. Spending enough time with my daughter actually was fine. But the feeling of resentment and loss that I had, that I couldn't do everything with my older one, was really, really heartbreaking. And it, I don't know if tainted is the right word, but I'll use it. I think it tainted a little bit of my relationship with the baby, because I was like resentful, you know, it's like you're getting, you're getting in the way of this good thing that I had going. 


00:28:40    Alyssa

That makes total sense. It's interesting because in my first trimester, I was so sick and tired by the end of the day that Zach started doing bedtime and now he consistently put Sage down for a bed and we were chatting about it because my best friend had her second babe a year and a half ago and I was like, all right looking back with what is one thing? Yeah, gosh, I would do this a little differently and she was like exactly what you just said like I would have started pulling out of our routines where I was the one doing all the things sooner because what happened was that like immediately postpartum all of a sudden I wasn't doing bed time anymore. I wasn't whatever. And it was a shock to the family system. And so I was like, okay, cool. I haven't been doing bedtime. Like, let's just let that continue to be a Zach thing. So that that becomes Sagey's new norm and mine can be this human for a little bit. 


00:29:47    Ashley

Yeah. And I think, you know, it's just to the extent that we all get to be intentional about the time we spend with different people in our orbit, it's something to be aware of switching back at some point too, because we then found ourselves in a dynamic where my husband was putting our toddler to bed and I was with the baby. And then at some point, my toddler sort of noticed that and she was like, hey, what's up? And my kids are older now. My daughter is turning nine in two weeks. And so she's like, you still lay with my son, Emilio, who is six, like every night. And like, you don't really snuggle with me. And I was like, damn, we've been in this for a long time, this pattern, you know? And we do things that don't work for every family, but my kids still share a room. We do try and like have them together as much as we can. And, you know, we'll do bedtime together, but still like they have bunk beds and she's on her own. And it's like, yeah, we sort of shoved you into independence very 


00:30:53    Ashley

early when you had a baby sibling. 


00:30:55    Alyssa

Yeah, totally. I think it's super common. We're like, you're the big kid now and I need this from you. Yeah. Yeah. I like that. Just like note of switching back at some point or even just being mindful of it. 


00:31:11    Ashley

And that's, you know, that's connected to all the postpartum and early parenting things, especially around feeding and sleep training and whatever gets kicked up for people. Because for families especially that are exclusively breastfeeding, you know, you maybe don't have the option to say to your partner or you're choosing to not have the option to say to your partner, okay, you go feed the baby and put the baby down and I'm going to snuggle this toddler. So, you know, what are the workarounds there like, can you learn how to feed in a baby carrier so that you can nurse a baby in a carrier while you're reading the toddler a book or can you snuggle them together or do you need to do bedtime as a family, right? we need two grownups because we have two or three kids now, but we're all going to lay in this bed together.


00:31:53    Alyssa

Right. Or, can that be a part of it? And then you step out, right? Like that, maybe you don't do the full bedtime, but you're a part of it in some capacity. Like when I started to feel better, Sagey does a bath every night, just like a part of his routine. And I started to enter back into that. We're like, I'm a part of bath time and I'll bring him into his room and do like books and whatever with him and then he snuggles with Zach and sings songs and does like the end of it with Zach but I'm a part of a good chunk of it at this point um and yeah so I think even just looking at like what can you do and also if you're exclusively breastfeeding and your kid won't take a bottle I see you I feel you I was you it is hard. Sagey never once took one ever once. Not because I was choosing to be exclusively breastfeeding, that's for sure. And so that, that was a shock for us. And that is one thing that has come up for me personally this time of like, gosh, I hope this kid takes a bottle. For the love, I hope this kid takes a bottle because that was hard. And it, I think would be even harder, you know, with siblings at home to be like, I, I'm the only one that can feed you. 


00:33:09    Ashley

It is so hard. I think you're right. And whenever I see it and we try and troubleshoot as much as possible with families, but I think it's really one of the scariest and most taxing complications to have with a new baby. But the other thing that reminds me of that I want to say is it's really important to go into having another baby, knowing that it likely will be different. 


00:33:37    Alyssa

Totally. And those parts of you are still real, right? 


00:33:41    Ashley



00:33:42    Alyssa

Every human will be different and there's a part of me that's like, I remember crying in the shower being like, what if something happens to me, this kid can't survive. 


00:33:51    Ashley

Yes. Yeah. So the stories you have, the experience you have, the wisdom you have, and the potentially like, I want this to be the same, but I want this to be different. All of that is real. I think like where I'm coming from is just the reality that I felt very much like I got it. You know, like I know, you know, my kid was awesome. I'm I was a birth doula, lactation counselor, postpartum doula, childbirth educator and nanny for years. Like I had more experience than anybody going in and was so ready. And my daughter was this shit. I don't know if I can say that she was awesome. I loved her. I loved parenting. everything was like hard, but wonderful. And I was like, cool, I'm gonna have another kid and it's gonna be awesome. And then he just, he kicked my butt in ways that I was like, I don't understand, I don't understand, you know, when he was a different baby with different needs. And I was like, oh gosh, I was not, it wasn't me. 


00:34:53    Alyssa



00:34:54    Ashley

Some of it was me, some of it is us, but like - 


00:34:59    Alyssa

It's this kid. Yeah I said Sage was a pretty easy baby and I said to Zach at one point postpartum I said just so you know like when we run this back this is not how all babies are in fact I think this is not how most babies are. I'm like this should not be your so good up now bud and this should not be your expectation. Yeah every kid's different. 


00:35:24    Ashley



00:35:25    Alyssa

We don't get to know until they're here. 


00:35:27    Ashley

No, it's really frustrating. It's so hard. If you could plan ahead, though, I would like to pick one who has no digestive upset and really likes going to sleep on their own and takes a bottle. 


00:35:48    Alyssa

If we're like picking? Yeah, exactly. I would pick takes a bottle. That is one right now real close to the top of my list. 


00:35:59    Ashley

Yeah. So then the other thing, like, I'm curious about how, what your partnership looks like and how you're thinking about dividing and conquering labor. Cause I think the other thing I see, and this is true from my experience, but as I've started doing more and more fair play coaching, um, and as we've started doing our second time around parenting groups, I can, I really feel like I'm seeing that most couples who have any intention of having an equitable partnership can sort of coast through the first kid. 


00:36:32    Ashley



00:36:32    Ashley

Like maybe it's not perfect, but you're like, we're, we're okay. You know, like I can, I'm doing more than you, but like, it's not an issue. And then the second kid is aware relationships are getting taxed, in, in unprecedented ways. 


00:36:47    Alyssa

Yeah. That makes sense, you're adding a whole human and all that comes with that to the to the mix and it's now a different ratio, right? So that makes sense for us. I look at the labor, but really also like postpartum and beyond. So we were just having this conversation the other night where I was like, I was like newborn stage at nighttime. He would wake up. I would nurse and Hakka and then hand the Hakka to Zach. He would take care of all the milk stuff and like wash, return, refrigerate, whatever had to happen. And I would burp Sage while he did that. and then he would take him and do everything else, so diaper, put him back to sleep, whatever. And the reality is, like, if a toddler also wakes up at night, which right now Sage doesn't, but, like, he can, right? Like, that's not off the table, that that's just never gonna happen again. I would like one of us to be able to tend to him and for us to not be like at 2am coming up with like what's the plan right now. We do a lot of sleep work at Seed and just like 2am is never a good time to make a plan about anything. And so we were just chatting about this where I was like who knows how those early days are going to go but I think we need a plan in place for what if Sagey wakes up or he's a sound sensitive human he wakes up to a lot of noises the babies are allowed. And so what does that look like? And I want Zach on Sage and for me to be on the baby and to know that then also, that means like Zach's up in the morning with Sage so that I, and potentially a baby, so that I can rest because I'll be up more frequently with a baby than he will most likely with Sage. So we've been chatting about like that, of like just the overnight sleeping logistic part of it so far. And then he, we are fortunate here in the States, which is just bullshit that I have to say we're fortunate for this, but he will be off for six weeks and not full pay, but off. And so for those six weeks for him to be really on Sage as much as possible, in terms of like taking him to childcare, drop-offs, pickups, et cetera. And yeah, but that's kind of as far as we've gotten is like the early days. What does it look like? Who's doing what? As much as we know now. 


00:42:00    Ashley

Yeah, I think that, you know, it sounds great. And also you get to even be so much more flexible than that. Like I would say like pick the goals or the priorities, right? And if it's that you're not making a plan at 2 a .m., like, right, then you can say at 8 p .m., hey, you're still, you're on Sage tonight, right? And then maybe you have a baby that gives you three consistent hours of sleep overnight and does take a bottle. And so then you can say the next night, you know what, like, let's switch it. If baby wakes up tonight, like you're going to do it. and I might pump and how might that be different at two months than at two weeks? 


00:42:44    Alyssa



00:42:44    Ashley

You know and same thing for postpartum when I mean yeah it's funny that you're saying you're grateful for six weeks leave it's like that's not enough time!


00:42:53    Alyssa

I know it's such bullshit right? But like it's so real in the States that like for a partner to have six weeks off? 


00:43:00    Ashley

Yeah for him and for him to take the whole thing I think that's what we deal with a lot where partners have it and then feel some stigma against taking the full leave.


00:43:07    Alyssa

He was the first one at his company, his company's been around for decades, he was the first male at his company to take the full six with Sage. 


00:43:17    Ashley

I am not surprised given that he's your partner and also like, oh, I'm so sorry for everyone else who has had a baby at that company. 


00:43:26    Alyssa

Yeah, a hundred percent. And he was like, yeah, I'd take six months if they gave it to us, like he loved being home. 


00:43:34    Ashley

Yeah, well, I think that it also, you know, this is a conversation that I'm sure lots of people will agree with but postpartum leave, parental leave is not in any way shape or form a vacation. 


00:43:49    Alyssa

No. Right. It also set us up for collaboration as that's right as partners right because I did notice when he went back to work this shift in me that was like should I let him sleep more overnight like he has to go to work tomorrow whatever and we did it and he was like no I will he actually like stood his ground on that I'm like nope I'm gonna continue to parent overnight with you. But that started to come up for me. And it hadn't in those first six weeks, I was just like, yeah, neither of us are going to work tomorrow. We're both doing this together. 


00:44:21    Ashley

Yes, yes, absolutely. And the thing is, the reality is that having a baby is a full time job. And it's one that, you know, if two people sign up to be part of it, then two people sign up to be part of it. And unless part of your personal circumstance dictates otherwise, like we, I don't know why we had two families last year whose partners had narcolepsy, right? And so sleep health was a very, very critical to their wellbeing. And so it's like, yeah, your family is going to make different plans for what overnight looks like. Or if there's like a, hey, I have a really big presentation that my salary depends on. But day in and day out, the expectation that a birth parent can take overnight care entirely because somebody else has to go to a paid job is like, it doesn't really work like that. You know, if the baby needs support overnight, you guys chose to have a kid who needs attention 24/7. 


00:45:18    Alyssa



00:45:19    Ashley

That's just the reality of it. 


00:45:21    Alyssa

And I know for myself that anxiety and depression are on the table if I'm really sleep deprived and so for us, it was a conversation we had before I had Sage of like for my health, but really also for the health of our family, because my health affects the health of the family. I need this from you. And like, before we even got pregnant was the conversation of like, can you give that? Cause that's what I need to not even like fully thrive, but somewhere between survive and thrive. 


00:46:01    Ashley

Totally. I think the biggest thing, like the biggest tip that I would give any partner who is having their first or second baby, right? or third, if they haven't figured it out yet, is to figure out what parts of domestic life they can take full ownership over. Because the distinction between taking full ownership over something and participating in is the amount, the weight of the mental load that falls on, you know, birth parent or mom or the default parent or primary parent, whatever language you wanna use. And so like, we see a ton of partners who are like, well, I'm so happy to help. I will help you overnight or I'll help you change the diapers or I'll help. And it's like, no, no, no. I don't want you to help me. I don't want to be the boss and then give you tasks to complete. I want you to just own parts of how our family or our household run so I don't have to think about them anymore. The same way I own things and take care of things and you don't have to think about it anymore. 


00:47:11    Alyssa

The mental load is huge. At one point, this was maybe a year into parenting, I said, I just, I need you to wake up tomorrow and think, I have a child. I wonder what that child's gonna need throughout the day. Like, I just need you, I need you to enter into that space with me a little bit more because it felt like we had fallen into, and I feel like that for us, it's been an ongoing conversation in every different season, like we had a plan for those days when he was home and not working and then what did it look like as things shifted and then when I went back to work and whatever and it's been like just this consistent like coming back to the drawing table of what does it look like in this season and it got to a point where it was like oh yeah he was the helper where I was the one saying okay like mentally like he needs diapers, we have to size up, we have to switch out clothes or you know we had to fill out that form for school whatever and it and then being I'm like, can you do this? Can you make sure we order diapers? Can you? And him being like, sure, happy to help. But I started to feel resentful and was like, am I the only one who wakes up and is like, I have a kid, I wonder what their needs are gonna be? Like if I wasn't here, what would you do? And yeah. 


00:48:27    Ashley

So it's actually a really interesting question that you asked because I think that I just pitched, do you know Dan Dottie? 


00:48:35    Alyssa



00:48:35    Ashley

I feel like you guys might be in an overlap, he does a lot of men's work and he has a cool, it's called a podcast called fatherhood unlocked, I think. So we know each other from, you know, another world and Birth Smarter tries to show up a lot for dads and we facilitate our own dad's group. 


00:48:50    Alyssa

You've worked with Dad Guild. 


00:48:51    Ashley

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We did it. We did a podcast together too. And so I was talking to Dan, and I was like, I want to come on your podcast and I want to talk about how dads fall into this. I will be your helper mindset, because it deserves its own conversation. And there are a lot of layers. There's like a societal level of nobody creates any resources or information or spaces where they're saying, Hey dads, think about your kid. Right. But then there's this level of, you know, maternal gatekeeping a little bit where it's like, because we do it, you don't have to do it. And anyway, it's very layered and very nuanced. But what you just said about what would they do if I wasn't there? For me, over the last few years, that has become the thing to look at, which is you have to not be there because they actually will, can, do figure it out, but it's really hard when the dynamic is such that they're taking direction from you, right? And they don't want to be the helper. You don't want them to be the helper, but that is the relationship dynamic that has been set up. And so it goes back to parental leave, right? Because with six weeks, if you take all that time together, you guys have a, and I don't mean this in a bad way, it's actually really beautiful. You have a codependent relationship in the beginning of co-parenting. But if you look at places like in Europe, for example, where you have a longer leave that you can split between two parents, we see so many more dads or partners taking leave alone once the birth parent goes back to work. 


00:50:37    Alyssa

That's beautiful. 


00:50:38    Ashley

And that of like, oh, I have to solo parent this baby, right? I have to anticipate their needs. I have to stay on top of things. That's when you really get to see a shift in the mental load distribution. 


00:50:53    Alyssa

100%. I studied abroad when I was 15 in Austria, and I've maintained really good friendships with some folks. And one of my best friends, we were having conversation because she she's a teacher uh she and her husband both had what in the U.S. would sound like really dreamy leave and they were together at the beginning and then split it up and she said it dramatically shifted their relationship with each other when he took his chunk of time home and he was like holy shit this is hard right like oh my god and and when she would show up from work and what he like as she's showing up what he's like meeting her at the And there was like a time and place to set the door with and how it shifted. Then when he went back to work. What he would show up. With, you know, like when he would come home from work. And set stuff down and jump right into dad mode. Whereas before. It was like...


00:51:49    Ashley

He needed a minute. 


00:51:51    Alyssa

Right. And now he was like, oh no, my minute is on my commute home in the same way that I expected her minute to be on her commute home and so now when I step in this door I'm on because she's been there all day and it just like gave him a new appreciation she was like it was a game changer for our relationship so I 100% feel that and in like drastic contrast I went on the longest work trip that I've gone on and Sage was just over two for a week in May I was in Panama for work, presenting at the World Forum for Early Childhood. And so I'm like out of the country and I set Zach up with all the things, you know? I did all the like pre-leaving prep. His mom, who lives a mile from us, who's really involved in our village in a lovely way, was like aware that I was leaving. Someone that's really close to us came and was like in the house every day, helping with Sage. Like everything was set up. And then literally three weeks later he went on a four day or five day work trip and he set up nothing, right? Obviously. And his mom like fully forgot that he was leaving and then she ended up getting sick anyway and wasn't around. I had, Sage ended up getting sick. I ended up getting sick. There was zero support and it was so hard. Like we, I was sick. He was, whatever it was a whole thing. And when Zach came back from his trip, I was like, oh, to the next time we do this, this is not how this is going down. Like it are experiences like I would FaceTime him at the end of the day. And he was like, calm and relaxed. And he just had like, oh, wow, how was the night? And he's like, yeah, mom came over and like made dinner and did the dishes. And I just did bedtime and came down. The house is clean, blah, blah, blah. And my experience was solo where that's not happening. and I come down from bedtime and the house is a disaster and now I'm doing all that stuff solo and prepping for lunches tomorrow, whatever. And I was like, oh, I did this. I did this because I went away and made sure all of the ducks were in a row and so he didn't even consider, like when he was solo with him, it never crossed his mind to set anything up for when he was going to be away. 


00:54:22    Ashley

Um, Alyssa, I'm, I'm having a lot of feelings and hearing that story and I feel so sad and like I want to fix it for you so much for the future because I feel like I was you six years ago. 


00:54:36    Alyssa

I also want you to fix it for me for the future. Please fix it for me for the future. 


00:54:41    Ashley

I really, it's so interesting actually and like maybe this is a separate conversation but as somebody with an Early Childhood background who cares so much about raising emotionally intelligent humans and the role and the, I just have to use gendered language, I think to get the words out, but like the, the maternal bond, right. I am struck again and again by how that same commitment we have to relationship health and communication does not exist in, in parenting partnerships. And does that make sense? Like we're going to think so much about how we communicate with our babies, how we're raising them, how we want them to show up in the world, and in turn, how we want them to treat us, right? Because a relationship is a two-way street. And those of us with that commitment don't really hold our partners to the same standard. 


00:55:46    Alyssa

Not to the same standard. And I will say, like, I feel like Zach and I have rad communication, right? So I already feel like, dang, like we are... 


00:55:56    Ashley

Better than average. 


00:55:58    Alyssa

Legit, like so much, we were together for a long time before we had kids, partially by choice and partially through fertility challenges. And in that time, did a lot of therapy, individually, together, whatever. And like communication was something that we really honed. We know how to fight, we know how to have conflict in a healthy way. Like that was something we worked really hard on and to still be like, yeah, and, right? 


00:56:24    Ashley

So the reason I think that this happens, and this is what I see from my work in Fair Play, is because we actually just, even if you go to lots of therapy, even if you work on yourself, even if you figure out things like, what is my relationship with anger? What is my relationship with conflict, right? When do you sit down and say, hey, what do you think we should do with dirty clothes in our house? How do we manage dirty clothes? 


00:56:52    Alyssa

Yeah. Zach's like, oh, well, you think you should just throw them on the floor and I have to look at them all the time. And I'm like, yeah, that is what I do with dirty clothes. 


00:57:00    Ashley

Yeah. Yeah. 


00:57:01    Alyssa

Thank you for cleaning them up. 


00:57:03    Ashley

Or what do we mean when we do the dishes? When we say, Hey, can you do the dishes? Do we mean in our house? Is it our family's expectation that doing the dishes means loading the dishwasher? Or is it the expectation that it means loading the dishwasher, hand washing things that can't go in, cleaning the counters and cleaning out the sink and wringing out the sponge? Right. When we don't know, I mean, my husband and I were in a very similar situation. and we cohabitated for 13 years before we said, hey, do we wanna make our bed every day? Do we wanna pick up dirty clothes from the floor? How often do we change our sheets? Like it wasn't until we sat down with this checklist, like inspired by Fair Play, the card deck, and I did that coaching program that we were like, you know, all these tiny little things that we're not communicating about explicitly are making us very resentful towards each other. And they're really creating tons of time inefficiencies, ultimately. And that's why I think it's such an issue when you have a second kid, because if somebody is putting two kids to sleep and comes downstairs and the house isn't clean, and honestly, I don't care if your house is clean or not. I care how you feel at the end of the day. So if you come downstairs and what you want to feel is relaxed and calm and having stuff scattered makes you feel like, shit, there's more I have to do, then your partner isn't showing up to care about you as a human being. 


00:58:36    Alyssa

Well, and that's how it feels, right? And like, I think also some of it is you don't know until you're in it, right? Like we didn't know I would have a work trip or he would have a work trip. And so there wasn't ever a plan in place for like, what's that gonna look like when that happens? And I think a lot with just parenting in general, Like, I think a lot of these conversations, the first time around, it's a reactive conversation of, oh, okay, you would like to go to your Wednesday night soccer thing that you were just, your buddies just put together and now you want to participate in. And like, yeah, this wasn't a thing you were doing before and now we have to figure out what does that look like for our family unit. I heard an interview from Brene Brown years ago and she said something that like really resonated with me where she was talking about, she's like, there are different types of families. there's parent -focused, child -focused, or family -focused, and she was saying how they're a family -focused family. And so what that means for them is that they all come to the table and they do it in semesters because of the ages of the kids and their jobs and whatever. But she was like, we come to the drawing table every semester and look at, yeah, how many extracurriculars can this kid take on? How many weeks is my book tour going to be? How many whatevers? For everybody to feel imbalance of like, we're not stretched too thin. And I was, it shifted for me this like, Oh yeah, we have to like, that felt important to me of being like a family focused family and not that like, okay, the kids get to do all the things that they want to do. And then it's at the expense of us feeling burnt out and exhausted. And like, we're running from thing to thing, um, or that the parents get to, and that the kids are at the expense of that, that like family focused felt right for us and so Zach and I chatted about this and it was like great what does that mean then and in each season for us 


01:00:29    Alyssa

it has looked different that when we were in a postpartum season Zach really he's a musician loves live music it was like yeah you're not going to as many of those shows as you did pre -kid or that you might in a few months and it was really like us coming the drawing board of what does it look like for us to feel in balance. 


01:00:54    Ashley

Totally. Yeah. And so I think what we, so what we try and do from a birth preparation perspective is say partners have five responsibilities and we try and make it like really simple because you and I probably both are very framework people. And so we take that, you know, understanding birth physiology, you have to feel safe. You have to move around. What does that mean? Hormonally to say, okay, If you're a partner and you're getting ready to support someone in labor, you have to be the keeper of oxytocin because we need oxytocin to flow. So it's your job to keep it up. And that means being able to answer the question, what increases my partner's oxytocin? In doing that work and answering that question, oh my gosh, what an amazing life skill you have just developed because now my partner isn't in labor, now maybe they're breastfeeding right? Or now they've had a hard day at work and you know what will increase their oxytocin, then it's some of the basics in terms of how your body functions. So you have to be the alpha breather, right? You have to take really big breaths in and out to metronome, the stress levels and the oxygen flow of your family. You are the chief hydration officer. That one needs a new name. It's very corporate, but people respond to it, right? 


01:02:17    Alyssa

That was Zach's job, I was like, oh my God, get that straw out of my face. 


01:02:24    Ashley

This is it. Yeah, it's a good one. Chief Hydration Officer, keep it moving, right? We have to make sure we're changing our positions and you have to own logistics. So like those things, school forms, like hospital, where's the address or what's the doula's phone number? Like take it upon yourself to own that. And I think that those responsibilities for supporting someone in labor, they really do transfer into postpartum, right? So can you, if you don't already cook, right, if your partner doesn't already cook, can they come up with five, seven meals that they can perfect that they can cook in under 30 minutes, right? They just develop a repertoire of 30 minute under meals. The internet exists, right? There's like really no excuses so that you can put together meal for your family? Can you keep the water bottle full? Can you make sure that you're doing what you can to help the stress levels, whether that's tidying, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, you know? And I think from a Fair Play perspective too, when we talk about showing up for your partner, it's about having conversations that will make you empathize more with each other. And so the best example I can give with this postpartum is I worked with a dad to just own the laundry, right? Just do it. It's your job. She's not going to think about the laundry anymore, but that's only half the battle without saying. What is that? What are our standards? Right?


01:04:00    Alyssa



01:04:00    Ashley

And why do those standards matter? And cause he was like, all right, I'll do the laundry on Sundays, right? Like I'll do the laundry once a week. And she was like with a baby and a postpartum life, like that isn't good enough. And ultimately, what we got to was this feeling of her saying, I have like two or three outfits that fit my body right now. 


01:04:21    Alyssa



01:04:22    Ashley

And if those aren't clean, I will spiral so fast into thinking that I am bad, or wrong in some way. Right? And I won't go out of the house, I won't go for a walk, I won't do these things that are helpful for my mental health. And I will just sit and be like, I can't believe my body looks like this. What have I done X, Y, and Z because the laundry wasn't done. Right? And so it's like, yeah, you got to do the laundry, but it's not about doing the laundry, right? It's not about a chore. Like you're going to show up to make sure that your partner has what she needs or they need in order to feel like they can participate in this world. 


01:05:05    Alyssa

Yeah. Oh, I love that. I love that so much. And oh man, just the distinction too of like, it's not just you own the laundry, but then what are the standards and why? That's huge. That's huge. And I think that is often left off the table in the conversation. 


01:05:25    Ashley

It is, it's not sexy and it's not nurturing. Like I think a lot of people wanna be at their home and they just wanna be like, I don't wanna think anymore. I do all my thinking at work. But I really do believe that having conversations about who's doing what, why, how, when, clarifying those expectations. It's a bit of a heavy lift at the beginning. And then your family gets to just operate so much more efficiently. You get, you and your partner don't have that, like, I don't know, we're doubling up or we're not, you know, weirdness, no resentment. And, you know, it's not perfect, but it's a wonderful way of saying, we wanna be on a team and we want to set up a system that is going to help our teamwork be really effective moving forward. 


01:06:16    Alyssa

I love that. I love that. And I found like, again, in each season, our jobs shifted, right? Like at one point, I was like, when does he start eating food? And this is a thing that I also, remind you, I have a Master's in Early Childhood. I've worked in Early Ed forever, literally wrote a book in this space and so the reality is I have so much more exposure to kids to tiny humans to things things that for me are like feel like oh yeah second nature or like this is obviously what happens next for him are brand new and so for me it's been this balance of like wanting him to have information and knowing that it is unrealistic for him to have the level of information that I have. 


01:07:07    Ashley



01:07:07    Alyssa

And so but when he was like yeah when does a kid start eating food and I was like oh there was a part of me that wanted to just answer the question and then another part of me that stepped in thankfully and was like oh here are some great accounts to follow, rather than, all right I'm gonna be the follower of all these parenting accounts and then I'm going to DM you or tag you in the ones that make sense or things that are happening in our household where I am still then the gatekeeper of the things and I'm delegating things to or bringing you into the conversation, it is your responsibility to come to the table with some of this. 


01:07:45    Ashley

And then it is also our responsibility, and I mean this as business owners in the parenting space. So for anybody who's listening in that capacity to stop creating content for moms. 


01:07:58    Alyssa

And I genuinely feel like that's something we stopped a long time ago at Seed. 


01:08:02    Ashley

Oh, totally. 


01:08:03    Alyssa

And mostly women follow us. 


01:08:05    Ashley

And it doesn't matter, right? because there are those of us who are pleading with our partners or the dads in the Birth Smarter Dads group saying, I just want to read something that's not written for moms. You know, I want to go to a class that's not a mommy and me class. 


01:08:20    Alyssa

And like, they do exist. They do exist. Yeah, they're still not following. That's my beef here is like, also, dad, you got to follow them, right? 


01:08:31    Ashley

Well, I think it's both. I think it's both. I do. I, we're still, it is still, I think the dominant force that things are created for in the mommy language, in the mommy universe. 


01:08:44    Alyssa

I agree. And our following is overwhelmingly female and our content is not mom focused. Or even like I did a Dad Guild workshop years ago, 2019, 2018, something like that. In person, dad only workshop or anyone who identifies as a Dad could sign up sold out so fast we're like this is great. 


01:09:10    Ashley

Oh you told me they were signing their husbands up!


01:09:14    Alyssa

Yes yes and then the dads ended up super engaged it was awesome line off the door for questions after like we had to kick dads out it ended up being really rad but they showed up in the first place because moms signed them up. And like, we were doing this with Dad Guild. Dad Guild is also advertising about it, right? But like, we need dads to show up because part of it is demand is going to drive supply, right? Yes. And so if women are purchasing your parenting courses, if women are engaging in your content, if women are signing up for these things, then companies are going to continue to market to women, just going to perpetuate this problem. But if you're marketing to men and women and non-binary humans, and still only women are signing up, like that marketing spectrum is only going to last so long. 


01:10:13    Ashley

No, and it's everything, right? It's like, this is a conflated issue. So we need businesses to show up. We need dads to step in. We need conversations to change. But, and I think, again, it goes back to parental leave. parental leave, and then who's doing what research, right? And so for us, of course, as a birth education company, that starts in pregnancy, right? So if you are a Dad or a partner, like go to prenatal visits, read the books, take the classes, like take on this ownership mindset that you're participating from the beginning and figure out, you know, I see this time and time again, where we get the question when people want to sign up for the Birth Smarter lactation class, can my partner come. And it's like, yeah, because how you feed your baby is a family issue, right? And so there's still a big hurdle we need to jump over as a society to say like parenting really when at all possible in the families, right, that can do it. If you have two parents, two parents need to learn how to do it. 


01:11:17    Alyssa

Yeah, I dig that so much. And I'm grateful Zach was to tell the classes with me. He like, we watched, ours were virtual. Everything was during COVID for us. So, it was virtual, but it was a like asynchronous recorded workshop. And it, he like towards the end of my pregnancy was like, can I go back? Do you want to like watch that like coping module again with me? Like I need a refresher or whatever. And I was like, I feel good on it, but yeah, we can rewatch it if you want to. Or he was like, well, I can just do it if you want to watch it together, great. But I can do it. And he like went back on his own and like rewatched some of the stuff as a refresher and referenced things like in early lactation, one of the jobs he owned was calling the lactation consultant. Reaching out to them right when I had Sage part of a home birth, you're not in a hospital. And so we had midwife support, but I wanted a lactation consultant to come out on day two, just to check all the things. And so right after, it didn't even cross my mind. Like I fully forgot. And he was like, lactation consultant's coming tomorrow. Like that was all set up by him, but it was a job that he fully owned. And yeah, but it has been interesting to see that shift. Like I noted of like the early days versus then when we're back at work and in different seasons. And that's where like the second time around, I'm like, what can we prepare for now? And then what I think for us, something that's just continued to be so important is like, what does it look like to keep communication open and to do so kindly? And for me, the challenge there is not waiting until I'm pissed and I'm having feelings of resentment and really staying on top of like, oh no, we need to come back to the drawing table and talk about this now and not in a month from now where then I'm like, I've been doing all of this on my own for a month. 


01:13:15    Ashley

So I will say the best thing that I have seen, the best way to create a system around that is to establish regular family meeting times. And I do think people with little ones, especially two little ones, I would advocate for two meetings a week, and they can be shorter, like two 30 or 40 minute meetings, where just like you would at work, you have weekly meetings for your department to check in on progress. Like you guys have a joint project. It's pretty high stakes and like your home and your family deserve your attention in that way. I think nighttimes are really hard. I think Sundays are really hard, but for folks who have any flexibility at work, you know, Tuesday we're gonna show up a little bit late and Tuesdays from nine to 9:30, we're going to sit with a cup of coffee and we're going to look at our calendars and schedule things or Thursdays at lunch or do a cocktail hour, whatever it is. But have something on your calendar that you both really respect to say, this is when we're going to check in about summer planning, about house repairs, about our kids' emotions, about whatever is coming up, right? So that you're not trying to have those conversations in the two minutes before you run out the door. 


01:14:44    Alyssa

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because in those two minutes, I'm not kind. 


01:14:49    Ashley

No, nobody is kind. And you can't get the full thought out, right? And you can't do your compliment sandwich and you can't do any of the things that you know how to do in those two minutes. So set it up to give the conversation the time and space that it deserves. And then if you don't have anything, which you always will, you skip a meeting. But generally you're gonna fill that time and be like, oh great, now we get to make progress. Right. 


01:15:13    Alyssa

Right. Yeah. I love that. I love that because then it does help in those shifting seasons too. There's so much changes so fast in the first couple of years that what was working two months ago might not be the same stage you're in anymore. And yeah, the haka is no longer on the table. It's not something we're using anymore, whatever. And like all of a sudden all the jobs are shifting. 


01:15:37    Ashley

And then you get to talk about, hey, here's what we need to do about starting solids or, or hey, here's what we need to do about transitioning out of the crib, or hey, here's what we need to do because our kid is gonna enter elementary school, whatever it is, right? 


01:15:50    Alyssa

Yeah, I dig that so much. For folks who are tuning in now, we got to dive so deep into what this looks like to prep your relationship for birth and for postpartum and bringing a sibling in. And if you want to dive into the emotional development work with the sibling or siblings, uh, the older humans, We have a full section in my book Tiny Humans Big Emotions that dives into that, into adding a sibling into the family and ways to prep and support the emotional development of the siblings. So head on over and snag Tiny Humans Big Emotions for that. I, Ashley, could hang out with you forever. I would like to be able to please text you as I'm navigating life. This was so helpful to really go over what does it look like to be in partnership and collaboration as we're preparing for a sibling and navigating that transition. I think one of the things, there are so many takeaways I feel like you have, one of the things that was coming up for me just now as I was listening was like, oh, also things are supposed to change, right? Like I think when it comes to the sibling, especially like and within our relationship there can be this desire to hold on to what is and not jeopardize you know as you were saying like with your daughter that there was this like grief of and resentment of like I can't do what I used to do all the time with her because I have this newborn and that anytime we're adding a sibling to the family we're creating a new family and And that it's key to allow the grieving process for that and to say like, there's a Mr. Rogers quote that's like at the tip of my tongue, but it's essentially about how like every transition comes with loss. And it even if it's this wonderful, beautiful, great transition, it comes with loss. And that allowing for the grieving process allows you to enjoy the transition as well. 


01:18:33    Ashley

My son has his last day of kindergarten tomorrow and that feels very relevant for what we're going through now as we see him struggle with his big feelings. Yeah. So it is interesting to grieve the loss of what that is, even as you're excited to become a first grader. A hundred percent. Yeah. And I, can I share the one thing I wanted to say about sibling bonding, and then we can wrap up, but, so I have no idea if this helped, but I had a theory when I had my second that my husband and I were really committed to, and my children have an incredible bond and I like to contribute a small part of their connection to what I did, but I need other people to do it so we can test out the theory. 


01:19:23    Alyssa

Okay. Let's get some beta testers here. 


01:19:26    Ashley

So basically the idea is let your kids be siblings right away. And by that, I mean, let your toddler or big kid have as full of a relationship with your baby as possible. And what that does is it's going to push up against your desire to keep your baby safe. But I keep coming back to this idea that baby's heads are screwed on really tight. and that they are very resilient, tiny humans. And if, and when possible, try not to dictate or micromanage the toddler or the kid's relationship with the baby. Let them be, and play, and touch, and connect as much as possible so the baby feels like theirs. And the example of this that we tell, and I just love this story so much, is my, we used a rock and play, can't get that anymore, but so my son was in the rock and play and we saw my daughter pulling the rock and play through our apartment over like the floor moldings, the room dividers, you know, like dragging my son to the other room. I came out of the bathroom and I was like, what are you doing? And she was like, he needs a hat. So she was pulling the rock and play like into our bedroom to like change him and get him dressed. and I had to sit on my hands and bite my tongue, you know, in the like, he's fine, you're gonna wake him up, don't touch him, all of that. And like, it was the beginning of us saying like, let's let her do this. Like, let's let her be with him. And, and I just, I would challenge anybody welcoming a baby to, to think about that relationship as something that you are not a part of. 


01:21:16    Alyssa

I love that advice and we'll again need to text you frequently. 


01:21:23    Ashley

Please, please do. 


01:21:26    Alyssa

When we're there and I'm like, oh God, oh God. 


01:21:29    Ashley

Yeah, I had, I just had a client in our second time support group and her son is four and was asking to feed the baby and she kept saying no, she was really worried and then she was in the shower and the baby was crying and she came back and the baby, the toddler was feeding the baby, you know, and the baby had stopped crying and she was like, I should have just let him do it. 


01:21:47    Alyssa

Yeah, yeah. I was five when my little brother was born and I called him my baby and I would pick him up and I would carry him around. And I would, I used to tell my mom, I was the only one who could put him to sleep. Like I loved caretaking. Every picture of like me as a five year  old involves me holding him. And I am so grateful for that. And she said like my, we were living with my grandparents when he was born. And she was like, grandpa literally followed you around like this, like Margaret, what are you doing? Why are you, she's five, he's a newborn. And she was like, but you had more like baby handling skills than your dad did when we had your oldest brother. Like you had been exposed to babies, you knew what you were doing and I trusted you. And I'm so grateful for that trust. And I hope I can replicate that now. And thank you. I love that advice. Ashley, where can people find you learn more about Birth Smarter and everything that you have to offer? 


01:22:52    Ashley

We are at or at BirthSmarter on Instagram. I am Ashley at And we have a great suite of prenatal classes. Postpartum, we have a fourth trimester survival group, a second time around survival group, a new dad survival group. We have some on-demand classes, some live virtual classes and some classes in person in New York City, Salt Lake City and Phoenix, Arizona. And most of our classes, not the ones in New York City, but anything online has a full alternative pricing program, because we want everything at Birthsmarter to be as accessible as possible. And I do one-on-one fair play coaching with families. So that's a separate aside that is new and very near and dear to my heart. 


01:23:44    Alyssa

I love it. Ashley, thank you so much. 


01:23:46    Ashley

Thank you for having me. 


01:23:50    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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