For those of you who are SAHM and whose spouses work full time, how do you and your partner handle equal parenting? I'm not talking about division of labor, more how you make sure the working parent has enough time to bond with baby, learn cues/how to respond and how needs change all the time etc. Or for those of you who work outside the home, how you do it for yourself. My DH works really hard, and really only sees DD for a couple hours at night and on the weekends. And between nursing and sleeping time, I feel like there is bound to not be enough hours for them to be together. It's not like this is going to change, apart from vacation weeks here and there. Is it just inevitable that I will feel closer and better able to meet her needs because I have so much time with her? Does it get better when kids are old enough to really know Dad, and greet him to play after work and he can totally use his own style ? I realize his relationship with her will always be different, and it would no matter he worked or not because we are different people, and because he didn't grow her inside his body and nurse her. He does his very best, but I feel like I'm always ready to step in when he has her, because I know what she needs, know what her development has been this week etc. What are your kids relationships with their working parents like? And what activities do you think could most promote bonding? I would think bathing and bottle feeding would be at the top of the list.
Relationships with working parents
1 hand short answer.
I struggled a lot with this with my 1st, and I must say it was very difficult since my dh not only workrd full-time but was also a student. I felt that they would never bond, and truly the bond took much longer to form mutually, but it certainly did happen. It became easier for both of them at around 6 months. It wasn't as much amount of time spent as it was quality of time spent and my own talking about papa when dh was away.
I am no longer in this situation but was with my first 2. With ds1 it was really hard because I constantly stepped in and took over and dh just got used to being "off" even when he was home then I was resentful and he didn't bond really well with ds1. If he is used to having a schedule at work like 8-8 or whatever then he is used to being "off" when not at work. We found it helpful to have specific times such as he gets 3o min to decompress when he gets home then bath time while I cook dinner, floor time while I clean up, etc. He can come up with his own activities. Ds2 was super cranky so dh would take the 2 boys for a walk every evening while I cleaned up from dinner and this gave me a break. Also bedtime has always been dh's deal. I found it best to have a schedule as apposed to here is the baby.... he just didn't know what to do. He has since developed his own rythm and is fabulous with the kids. It was really important once I handed the baby off for his time not to go in and take over. He found what worked for him and it bennefited all of us in the long run. Also, a sleep in day for you on one of dh's days off will give them time together and give you a break. I love my sleep in day!!!
DH will roll the baby all around the living room floor (which horrified me at first but Corbin grins the whole time), slide him off the couch into a standing position while holding his hands, take him outside while he cleans his work vehicle, etc. At first he used to say it was hard because the baby doesn't DO anything, but now that I have backed off and let them develop their own relationship, I have seen him become much more eager to take on caretaking responsibilities. He even knows tricks that settle the baby faster than I can!
I'm assuming it is harder if you are nursing, but bottle feeding helps quite a bit. He hasn't done any bathing, so I'm not sure on that one.
I agree with Karli. I'm not back to work yet, but DH will be taking care of her a lot once I do, so this was really important for me. DH is pretty excited when he gets home to do baby duty. I nurse, but he gives her a bottle right before bed and gets her ready for sleep. He gives her about half of her baths. I've wanted to be sure he is comfortable with her, because he will be going solo at least 20 hours a week once I start back to work. From the beginning, he has been really committed to being an "equal" parent, he went to every appointment, every nst, etc. He does some things differently and I've learned just to let it flow. When I'm with her, he doesn't jump it, and he deserves the same autonomy. He doesn't handle her quite as carefully, figures out what she needs in different ways, her outfits are mismatched, but her needs are always met and she is very fond of her daddy. He doesn't do much in the way of nighttime parenting, but he did adjust his work day to 6am-2pm so I could work and he could be home more, so I'm not going to complain!
This has been the very hardest thing for me. My DH is self employed and, honestly, a workaholic. He leaves for work at about 6am, gets home around 7pm (often later) then after eating supper, he works at home until about 12pm (or later). He also works almost all day on Sat/Sun as well. I know. CRAZY.
It affords us a very comfortable lifestyle but it is really hard. I am "on" pretty much 24/7 and do everything household related, from grocery shopping to snow shoveling.
His time with the kids is pretty much limited to eating supper every night and playing for about 20 minutes afterwards while I clean up the table etc. We sometimes do something together on the weekend and rarely, he will stay with them on Sunday while I knit with friends but they are usually having their nap while I'm gone. (That sounds so terrible when I actually type it out).
Honestly? He has almost no idea how things are done, or where things are, or their routines or their preferences. I try not to get angry when he has to change a diaper and STILL has no idea how to put one on properly, or can't manage to make sure the 2yo stays dressed properly/warmly or fed enough when he has her, And don';t even get me STARTED about the rage I feel when he's holding a screaming baby and says "do you think her diaper is wet?" gee honey,,..if only there were some way to know....
I have always felt like it has just made things harder to try and make him learn how to feed a bottle without it leaking all over her, change diapers without them leaking because they're on totally wrong, put them to bed without him knowing all the routine. I'd rather he spend his time with them holding, playing, talking etc.
But, all that said, he and DD1 have been super tight from day 1. She adores him. and he plays really well. They have always been bonded, no question.
but....she waits all day for him to get home, talking about all the things she's going to show and tell him....and it's never long enough for her before he has to go back to work. She was chattering away to herself the other day, saying "Daddy no want to go in the playroom, he go to work" Ouch.
Honestly, I worry about long-term. I feel like he is missing so much and needs to spend more time now, when they're little, so that when they're older they are still close. But I don't know how to get through to him...and I don't want it to come across as being ungrateful for how hard he works/the freedom I have to stay home because of it.
Edited by Katico - 12/7/11 at 9:15am
My advice is similar to Karli's, though in my experience its not easy to do. I have 3 kids now, so when DH is home he is generally with at least one of them. I also think that its good to leave dads (ok, working partners, but lets be honest, this is more an issue for dads, working moms still come home and are "on" with their kids in every family I've known including my own!) alone with the kids on a regular basis. DH has been working very long hours and then sick pretty much since our baby was born, and I get pretty mad at him when he acts like he should come home and sit on his butt while I now am expected not only to take care of the 3 kids but to wait on him too! Dads need to make their own relationships with the kids- and they will be different. And both the partners AND the kids need to see that mom trusts them with the kids as well. Trusts them by leaving him in charge, not just claiming that she trusts him ;)
Anyway. I've never been fully a SAHM, I have been a graduate student since 7 weeks before my first child was born. I have taken longer to complete school b/c of it, but have really never been fully off work. However, because I am the primary caregiver, the mom, and the person who WAH, my life is pretty much that of a SAHM. Just an extra stressed out one I guess... I did leave the kids fairly early on for classes and teaching, so I did get used to that process and was kind of forced to "let" DH be in charge some of the time.
My dh had experience with younger siblings and cousins so he already knew how to change diapers(basically...occasionally I had to repair the wedgy diaper lol) and feed bottles. The rest of it came naturally, I guess. Sometimes at night he'd get up with me if the baby wouldn't sleep and walk the floor with her until she feel asleep. I came into our relationship with the assumption that he was going to be a daddy, and not just a money-maker, and he lived up to it. He changed all the babies' diapers the first couple of days and whenever he is home from work he changes diapers. I don't bottlefeed so that's the only thing he doesn't do. He has found what works for each child. And I leave him alone to do it! I guess for us, it wasn't a matter of him learning, it was more that he dealt with the baby stuff when he was home. Just like nowadays he helps with algebra homework or spelling. We have 2 teenage girls, a 9 year old girl and a 2 month old girl. I don't know what I'd do if I was married to a man who didn't handle the baby stuff, or had a baby a few weeks old and still couldn't figure out if her diaper was wet. I've known couples where the father did pretty much nothing with the babies/small kids, and that caused alot of stress on the mom. It's definately not fair and those fathers are missing out on so much and don't realize how sad it is for the kids. I would feel extremely disrespected if my husband treated me and the kids like that!
DH was home for 3 days straight for holidays, and I really did notice that the baby seemed more "into" him by last night. Sort of sad for him, I guess. She is usually not awake when he leaves for work, and by the time he gets home, everyone is so grumpy... he does usually have at least a half hour or 45 minutes with her while I put the 2yp to bed. I think I am going to start pumping a small bottle many mornings again so he can feed her during that time, maybe it would help her connect to him, rather than just cry for me?
We are extemely lucky in that both of us have been home mostly full-time for her first 11 weeks (DH had to go back to work for a few weeks when she was only a week old, but has been home since), so both DH and I have been able to really bond and get to know DD. Of course our relationships with her are different, since I breastfeed and do most of the night-time parenting, but now that I'm back at work I am so grateful that she's with her daddy because I know she loves and trusts him and I know he can meet her basic needs. Like others have said, he might not be quite as gentle or be able to read her cues as accurately, the occasional diaper may be on backwards and her clothes won't match, but for the most part he does a really good job. However, I've definitely had to make sure that I don't "hover" or step in right away when she starts fussing, and I make sure that he takes care of her on his own for a few hours most days. I also try to be really gentle in showing him how to do things for her, instead of just telling him he's doing it wrong and taking over.
To maintain my own relationship with her now that I'm back at work (first day back was yesterday...ugh!), I try to make sure that I get at least a half hour to cuddle and nurse and play with her before I leave for work, and then as soon as I get home I am "on" through the next morning (since we cosleep and she usually only wakes 2 or 3 times between 10pm and 8am, nighttime parenting has been pretty easy). I also try to make sure that when I'm taking care of her after work I am really focused on her instead of just going through the motions, kwim? It's hard at first because when I get home from work I just want to decompress and veg out, but after a few minutes it actually helps me relax to just cuddle or walk her even if she's fussy.
FWIW, even if your DH really only gets to spend time with your DD on weekends, as long as he is fully THERE with her during those times, I think they will still bond just fine...my DH and I only have my DSS on weekends, but he is still incredibly attached and has a wonderful relationship with both of us (I know it's a totally different situation, but the concept of limited bonding time is kind of the same).