Few things can be as rewarding (or challenging) for most people as parenthood. Let’s face it, caring for an individual that is pretty much helpless for a good number of years while being able to maintain a business or job that helps fulfill these needs is a huge challenge often shared among both parents.
While gender norms have changed considerably in the last few decades, the traditional setup of the the father bringing home the bacon and the mother as homemaker and stay-at-home parent remains a common arrangement among married (and even unmarried couples).
Is there a problem?
Many are happy with the traditional setup, problems can arise when one or both parents fail to clearly communicate their expectations and/or live up to their end of the arrangement they previously set. If these concerns aren’t communicated effectively between the parents, this can lead to misunderstanding, resentment and even the end of the relationship.
The effects can trickle down to your relationship with your child down the road, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Trust me, you don’t want that.
A possible situation that can arise as a result of the demands placed upon the stay-at-home parent is when the working parent may end up having to do many of the household chores that the stay-at-home parent agreed to handle initially. This situation requires delicate handling since the man’s relationship with his partner is at stake and being able to voice these concerns without being condescending or dismissive to one another is a challenge in itself. Here’s some tips to keep in mind:
Your five go-to’s for parenting and partnership
Appreciate your partner’s role in caring for your child. The fact is that caring for a newborn, infant, toddler or even young child can be highly demanding, leaving her little time for rest or other tasks that demand her attention.
It’s easy to be overburdened with the responsibility and letting your partner know that you appreciate her ongoing efforts can go a long way in helping improve her mood and outlook. It’s going to make her more receptive to anything you have to discuss with her.
Use a supportive tone when discussing the issue. Instead of condemning your partner for not doing her part with other tasks such as the housework, make it as if you’re reaching out to her since she needs help with the combined tasks of caring for the baby and other chores around the house.
Acknowledge that she may need help with balancing the load of duties and chores, so suggest bringing in additional help to take some of the work off her shoulders if needed.
Adjust to the early years that will be rough, as the baby adjusts to life outside the womb. This is especially true in the first two to three years as they start establishing eating, waking and sleeping patterns that will exist for the rest of their lives.
Most experts recommend sleeping and waking at the same time as your baby for stay-at-home parents, since this provides the best chance of getting sufficient rest to be able to keep up with their baby. Providing extra support to your stay-at-home partner when you can, such as spending more time taking care of the baby can help immensely with this.
Give your partner quality time for herself. The demands that parenthood places on anyone can feel overwhelming, since it forces you to change your previous routines and norms to attend to your baby’s needs, which can give her the feeling of being trapped in a situation that she can’t get out of.
To address this, make sure to give her time that she can have to herself without having to worry about the baby, such as going out on dates or letting her spend time with her family and friends, which will break the monotonous cycle of having to be there for the baby at every waking hour.
She may be experiencing postpartum depression. While the stress of pregnancy and birth are taxing for any woman, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that as high as 1 in 5 women experience depression at some time in their lives and this can lead to them experiencing postpartum depression.
Aside from the classic symptoms of sadness, emptiness and hopelessness, women may end up crying more often than usual, experience feelings of anger, withdraw from loved ones, feel numb or disconnected from the baby, constantly worrying that you will hurt the baby, or feeling guilty about not being a good mom or doubting your ability to care for the baby. Seeking professional help is the best means to address this issue.
Parenthood is a life-changing event for any person involved and involves many challenges. But as time has proven, it can be immensely rewarding when you collaborate with your partner as complementary equals in caring for your child.