How to grow a happy family

Whether it’s your first, second or fifth baby, here’s how to help your family bond as well as possible.

First-time parents

If this is a first child for both of you, it’s likely that before you became parents you enjoyed a relationship that was mainly focused on yourselves and each other as individuals. Having kids inevitably changes that, and how you prepare for and perceive this new life is crucial to how well you adjust.

‘With almost every situation, mind-set is one of the most important aspects,’ says Bill Lucas, author of Happy Families: How to Make One; How to Keep One (BBC Active, £10.99). One of the keys to keeping a positive mind-set when you become parents is knowing your partner very well and being determined to keep the grown-up side of the relationship going.

‘Ideally, as a partnership, you’ll have made a conscious decision to have children, and the degree of preparation you’ve done for your new life is critical,’ says Bill. He believes that, as new parents, you can help boost happiness if you:

* Accept that life won’t simply go on as it did before parenthood.
* Keep your expectations low at first so that anything you manage to achieve outside of caring for your baby is a positive thing.
* Be mutually supportive and respectful of each other. This will help to keep your relationship strong which, in turn, will provide a happy basis for your new family.
* If the woman is the main carer, it’s important that her partner is sensitive and empathetic enough to provide space for her to have time to be an individual, as well as a mum.