Job Share Parenting

Job Share ParentingThis Saturday Lottie will be 3 months old. I’ve heard people say that babies get much ‘easier’ from 3 months onwards and I must admit I’m finding this to be the case. Lottie has become more predictable in her behaviour (give or take a recent Wonder Week) and her sleep and feeding habits are less of a mystery. She is able to self-settle much quicker (so no more lying in her cot awake for up to 90 minutes before going to sleep, it’s now more like 10 minutes). Her ability to sleep anywhere is improving. I don’t think the sleeps in the car seat, in the carrier on my front or in the pram are ever going to be quality day sleeps – they usually only last an hour or less – but as long as I only have one of these shorter day-sleeps per day, Lottie doesn’t seem to get overtired. The cot in her nursery is still her favourite place and night times are going well, with one night feed post dream feed, and a few times no night feed at all. I love a full night’s sleep!

Part of the reason I feel things are getting easier are not just to do with Lottie, but are attributable to my own growing confidence, and also my husband’s. We have started to get into a good rhythm in sharing Lottie-related-tasks when Rick is at home on weekends, mornings and evenings. I’ve had to make a conscious effort not to treat Rick like my parenting assistant, because I could tell right from the start this would undermine his confidence. It also implies that I am better at parenting than him and the outcome of that attitude is that I’m the only one who can look after Lottie, which is hard on me, and Rick. For example, if I ask Rick to change Lottie’s nappy, and then I stand over him while he does it telling him he’s doing it wrong, he’s going to feel like an assistant parent. And it’s double-handling so a waste of my time. It also positions me as the boss parent, and just like in the workplace, the boss is in charge and therefore takes ultimate responsibility. I don’t want ultimate responsibility for Lottie, because she has two parents. Not a boss and an assistant. Rather parents who are job sharing. I would prefer Rick doesn’t need my help changing a nappy, and in fact can work out for himself when Lottie needs changing, so I bite my tongue and let him do it.

Now after three months, just like me, Rick’s quickly learned how to do all sorts of Lottie tasks without my help; he does most of the baths, most of the reading books, lots of nappies and outfit changes, burping, spotting tired signs, putting down to bed, soothing when she cries, entertaining her, singing to her, putting her in the pram and in the car seat, taking her for walks in the pram or carrier, feeding her a bottle, in fact everything except for the only things he can’t physically do: breastfeeding and expressing. Obviously I do more of all of these things as I’m on maternity leave and he works full time. And I get up in the night because there’s no point Rick getting up since he can’t feed Lottie (and needs his sleep so he can be alert at work!). Job-shared roles in workplaces aren’t always split 50/50, nevertheless both the employees in the shared-job take full responsibility when they are at work. And slowly, but surely, this is how our parenting-job-sharing is taking shape.

It is so nice when Rick comes home from work to be able to hand Lottie over to him and run out to the supermarket or have a bath or read a book or cook dinner. It’s also great to have a break on weekends, where I don’t have to change every nappy or manage every sleep. Rick’s confidence with Lottie isn’t just great for me, but also makes his time with Lottie more enjoyable I think since he’s sure of what he’s doing and he knows what to do if Lottie needs something. There are still many times where I catch myself bossing Rick around with Lottie as if I’m his boss. And sometimes he does need to check with me if he’s not sure what Lottie needs. I also try not to say ‘thank you’ to Rick when he looks after Lottie, because that implies he’s doing me a favour, almost as if he’s babysitting his own daughter, when really he’s just being a parent. I can already see that the long term benefits of us both being confident job-sharing parents is going to be good for all of us. Particularly when I go back to work, and also when I hopefully have baby number two. See what I mean about things getting easier; I’m already thinking about the next one.

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