According to Mr. Dad, “kids who grow up with actively involved fathers are happier, healthier, smarter, and better adjusted than those who don’t.” Great, sign me up. The added payoff is that I get a break, right? But figuring out how to do it can be a big challenge: I was a super nervous parent, my husband worked all day, I liked things my way, and on and on.
Basically, your partner needs your support in order to be successful (but not by controlling or bossing, I learned). Let the other parent take the lead in diaper-changes, baby-bathing, and massage-giving while you go in the other room and put your feet up. Try your very best not to micro-manage – they’ll get along just fine without you.
As rookie parents, we had a few different break-throughs in our house and I want to go on-record as suggesting the sooner the better.
- Diapers. For Holden’s first 2 weeks, Alec was chief diaper changer to allow me time to lay around and recover (and nurse eight hours a day). He was and still is the diaper expert. Nice!
- Walks. Around 4 months old, Alec got in the habit of taking the baby out for a short BabyBjorn-walk when he got home from work to give me a little break. That was wonderful; I would check my email and enjoy the relaxation that comes with being Off Duty. Something about solid foods and bad weather got in the way of that ritual, but I highly recommend it. Find a variation that works for you.
- Baths. And some time around 14 months, Alec became the chief bather and to-bed-putter of our little guy. Before then, we did it all together. Lock step. Let me tell you that it is very liberating to diversify your skills in this regard. If you’re comfortable trying it sooner, go for it!
Let him do it his way. Sometimes, it’s easiest to leave the the house completely so you don’t have to watch or listen. Go get your toes done or something. And remember that it’s so worth it.
Now that my children are older, my husband and I are both completely “cross-trained” in the jobs it takes to run our home: lunchboxes, dinners, carpools, etc. Trust me, you want that.
In order to make the move from my good intentions to actually handing over the reins, I tapped into resources like these: 3 Parenting Must-Reads That Will Save Your Marriage (written by me on our giggle column).
Has it been easy to share parenting with your partner?
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