My husband and have spent 11 months months experimenting with how to raise and travel with a kid together. We read Equally Shared Parenting. We talked to other travelling/musical couples. We did countless web searches for articles that would LOOK promising but would usually end up being about how one parent works while the other parent does kid duties.
It's been a challenging road; and it's been amazing to meet a few stunning parents out there. Thanks to input, support, and trial and error, our Mom/Dad balance feels good for us at the moment. Here's what has worked/is working:
- Dad taking on the lion's share of diapering. From day one, Mom breastfeeds, and Dad does as many diaper changes as he can, no matter what time of day or night. This was an important piece of our magically empowering and fair formula.
- Dad and Mom BOTH waking for those early morning feedings/changings in the beginning. Sleep is important. But so is fairness and being completely united. In the very beginning, while Mom breastfeeds (ESPECIALLY AT 2am and 4am), Dad got up, too. Yes we were both stupid tired. But we were both stupid tired together. And we BOTH remember the weirdness, the sweetness, and the challenge of those early months. This was another very important piece of our magically empowering and fair formula.
- Mom LETTING Dad do things his way. While Dad developed his own way of soothing, bathing, changing, playing, feeding, cleaning, this Mom trusted that all will be well for Baby with this caring, loving Dad. Period. For the most part, Mom LET Dad do his thing and tried to stay the HELL out of the way and/or offer support (without hovering)... this was very difficult. But without this approach, we both acknowledge that Dad would never feel empowered and would probably stop trying, and we would be one big Annoying Case Study.
- Mom, Dad, and Mom and Dad take baby out to do errands, go to concerts, go to parties, from day one. Nothing instilled confidence like each of us going out to the post office or grocery store with Baby in carrier! What an achievement! So empowering, and so vital to the equal ownership, equal fluency project! The key was plenty of Solo Parent and Full Family Outings of all types. (But the wedding in New Hampshire--a 4-hour round trip--when Baby was just 2 weeks old and still jaundiced was above and beyond what we needed to do... THIS was too much and NOT a vital piece of our magically empowering and fair formula, although everything else seemed easy after that!)
Just one more rule, once the initial routines are in place:
When parents DO take turns (Mom works while Dad is on baby duty), the parent on duty is ALSO the homemaker. It made life clearer and easier for us when we spelled out that the Parent on Duty is also the guy who tries to do a load of laundry, clean the kitchen, and make a grocery list, while the parent who is working pledged to work as efficiently and effectively as s/he possibly can. We got this one from the Equally Shared Parenting book; and it really is a good rule of thumb.
I'd like to ask why no one else spelled these rules out to us. But the reality is, people probably did. And the other reality is that we are all different, so our RULES will differ from another family's RULES. Still, I think these are pretty fail proof, for the Parents who really want to share it all.
Labels: Raise Little Frogs