Before I had my baby, I envisioned myself as a capable, independent mom who would do her “job” and let my husband do his jobs. Sort of a separate but equal kind of thing. I looked down a little bit on moms who, when said husband came home from a long day at work, immediately handed him a poopy, crying baby. (If you’ve read my other posts, you may be coming to realize that I was way too judgmental of moms. Good thing I am one now and eat my words—and thoughts—all the time, huh? J )
Anyway, that perspective was a tad unenlightened to say the least (with a few caveats anyway), and I’m grateful my husband didn’t share the same view. He’s been a huge help from day one. It helps me with the work and responsibilities a baby brings, and maybe even more important, it makes me feel like he understands how difficult being a mom is sometimes, since he’s willing to step up to the plate even after he’s had a long day at work or school. So, moving right along, here’s a few things we’ve learned along the way/learned from watching others about making the parenting partnership work:
• One of the things I initially found so frustrating about motherhood was that the job never ends, especially in those first few months when baby is waking up round the clock. During those months I daydreamed about having a job that would let me clock out and go home, to spend my evening in peace, recharge, and prepare for the next day. Sharing responsibilities in the evening keeps you from getting burned out. For the first few months especially, we made it a point of having some out-of-the-house errand I could do—by myself—once my husband got home. I know running an errand seems like a little thing, but it was so nice to have a minute to myself. As Luke got older, and when my husband’s schedule allowed for it, we stepped this up a bit. Now I take a class once a week for about an hour and volunteer once a week for a couple hours, while the boys have some Daddy-son time.
• One of the things I’ve had to keep myself in check with is expecting my husband to take over completely once he gets home for the day. Sharing the load is crucial to a healthy partnership, but sometimes I selfishly decide that I’m the only one who’s had a long day, and now I deserve a break (some guys have this same attitude about coming home from their job).
• Don’t get into “whose job is harder” arguments. Nobody ever wins these, and it just makes both of you feel bad/like your contribution isn’t valued. However, I have found it very helpful to talk to my hubby about why being a mom is hard sometimes/what I feel like I need the most help with. Don’t keep your frustrations and concerns in—but do remember that how you voice them is crucial.
• On the same note, it also helps me to hear about my husband’s day/what he’s working on/what he’s got on his plate and his concerns, etc. Sometimes it feels like he gets to go off and “have fun” while I stay home with Mr. Poopypants (no offense, Luke). It helps to have a reminder that this isn’t the case.
• Take the lead in getting in the habit of thanking one another for help/showing appreciation, even for things that seem routine. Maybe it’s part of your routine that your husband usually gives baby a bath each night. Thank him for doing it anyway.
• Try not to stress about it if Daddy doesn’t do everything exactly “right” when he’s on baby duty. Just be grateful he’s on baby duty J Critiquing him for not strapping the diaper on just right is a surefire way to discourage him from wanting to change it. It’s a given he’s not going to do things the way you do them, but try not to stress out about it. You’ll all be just fine.