Co-parenting. That thing you thought would come some-what naturally once your little bundle of joy arrived. That thing that you’re shocked is so difficult to achieve, even though it seems like every other couple you know who have children have achieved it easily. Well, they didn’t.
And while that idea of co-parenting where you take turns changing diapers or getting up in the middle of the night to soothe your crying baby might sound nice – for many of us, it’s just not realistic. And that comes as a huge, (sometimes devastating) shock to us new moms most of the time.
We feel like somehow our little family is “failing” because we don’t meet the unrealistic guidelines we put on ourselves for what co-parenting looks like.
“Co-parenting”, to me (before I had a baby) – meant the sharing of baby duties. We would take turns changing the diapers, we would bathe him together at night, we would take turns walking around with him at night when he was upset.
“Co-parenting”, to me (just after my son arrived) – seemed impossible, and it devastated me. My boyfriend (after his parental leave of 10 days was up) went back to working in shifts, meaning for almost 3 weeks of the month he was running around like crazy getting his work done or catching up on sleep because of staying up late getting his work done. I felt alone most of the time, even when he was home he was exhausted from work. I felt like our little family was failing because we weren’t sharing the baby load equally.
“Co-parenting”, to me (now, when my son is just over 2 months old) – looks a little different than I thought, but a lot more realistic. And I feel so much happier with this.
We are starting to get the hang of it (VERY slowly, we are making progress.)
Pre-baby, I thought co-parenting meant equally sharing all baby duty. Now, 2 months into our parenting journey, I’m realizing that co-parenting is really just finding a balance. And that balance might not be what you thought it would be before you became parents, but it’s what works for you.
That balance might mean your partner does the night-time routine while you’re always on morning duty with your babe. It might mean that the mom changes all the diapers while the dad is in charge of all the vitamins and doctors appointments. It may even mean that you take charge of baby while your partner does most of the house work.
Co-parenting very rarely means equally splitting baby duties, because it’s not just the baby that needs to be taken care of. Household duties, work responsibilities and attempting to have something of a social life also need to fit in there somehow. Co-parenting involves a lot more than just your baby.
We hold ourselves up to these standards of the perfect family where, when the baby cries in the middle of the night, the husband lovingly gets out of bed and says “it’s my turn, you just go back to sleep.” For many of us, that is just an unattainable, unrealistic standard and we tend to feel like a failure-family when we can’t meet that.
Your family has to find the balance that suits you, and really, that’s what co-parenting is: a system you eventually find that works for your family. The things that work for you won’t work for the family next door – but that’s okay! Co-parenting looks totally different to every family, and can change and evolve as your little family grows!
HOW TO DEVELOP (AND MAINTAIN) YOUR VERSION OF CO-PARENTING:
- Be really, really honest. Holding back your thoughts and feelings is just a recipe for resentment. Even though resentment is common (I don’t know a mom who has gotten up at 3am to feed her crying baby, looked over at her sleeping husband and felt a little tinge of resentment) – talking it out assures that each person can see the other person’s point of view.
- Nothing said after midnight counts. You’re exhausted, the baby is on hour 3 of crying or complaining, and you’re bickering at each other because you just want to go to bed. Things are bound to be said that we don’t mean.
- Every single day is a new day. This actually shocked me as a first time mom. No matter how much (read: how little) sleep I got the night before, every day with our son felt like a new refreshing start. And it should also feel that way with your partner.
- Explain your day to your partner. Okay, so if your partner is at work all day, they might not know just how chaotic and busy your day at home with baby is. And vice versa. Simply talking about your day with each other once bub has gone down for their nap does absolute wonders for your sympathy to one another.
- “Assign” duties. This may not work for every couple, but sometimes deciding that you’re the one on diaper duty every day while your partner is on bath duty every night might just solve the “whose turn is it” dilemma.
- At least offer. A lot of the time, mom’s just want to be OFFERED help. Even if we’re happy to rock the baby to sleep because we like watching him drift off – it’s nice to know your partner understands that you’re exhausted and at least offers to step in.
- Don’t be afraid to accept that offer, even if you don’t want to. LET THE OTHER PERSON PARENT TOO. It’s harder said than done, but I promise it’s a good tip.
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