How to Share Early Parenting Responsibilities
It took both you and your partner to make this adorable, little poop-maker; it only makes sense that the child-rearing responsibilities be shared between you as well. In fact, a researcher from the University of Missouri (MU) found that husbands and wives are happier when household and child-related responsibilities are shared.
“Wives in our study viewed father involvement and participation in household chores as related,” says Adam Galovan, a doctoral student in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “Doing household chores and engaging with the children seem to be important ways for husbands to connect with their wives, and that connection is related to better couple relationships.”
No matter how you look at it, divided tasks lead to a happy and more balanced household. Here are some tips on how to share the load.
Balance doesn’t always mean 50/50
The same number of tasks doesn’t necessarily mean a balanced distribution of responsibilities. While your tasks might take you 30 minutes to accomplish, your partner’s might take a little longer to complete. So instead of quantifying chores, try to find the balance where both of you feel supported, appreciated, productive, valuable, and happy.
A good example of finding balance is using the differences in your body clocks to your advantage. If your partner is nocturnal, maybe he can take over the night time duties while you take over for the most part of the following day.
Verbalize – you aren’t the babies
Don’t expect your partner to know what to do every time. If you want something done, say it. If you’re in dire need of help or a few minutes to yourself, speak to your partner. If you decide not to speak up and just “take one for the team,” it may lead to negative feelings that are expressed in a furious or passive-aggressive manner later on. If you want your partner to tend to your needs, verbalize them.
Be specific about the things you need your partner to do. Instead of plainly saying you need his help, ask him to do the specific tasks you can’t accommodate, such as feeding the baby, putting the baby to sleep, or going for a diaper run while you’re breastfeeding. Being specific helps meet your needs.
Taking care of a newborn is a lot of work and both parents are expected to be involved. While this is expected, the involvement is grossly unbalanced for many couples. Keep the balance by being firm about it.
Studies show that men take cues from their wives regarding what they’re supposed to do; in this, your husband looks to you for direction. This then goes back to verbalizing. Speak up, specify tasks, and be firm about them.
Respect each other’s parenting
You and your spouse may have different parenting styles; something that works for you may not work for your husband. One example is that you and your husband may have different methods for putting on your baby’s diaper. At the end of the day, if the diaper was safely and securely put on, is your husband’s method still worth criticizing?
Simply accept that your partner’s methods may be different from yours. The less you criticize him, the more he will be willing to help with baby duties. Finally, remember the saying “it takes two to tango”. You and your partner are a team, so find a way to utilize each other’s strengths. Don’t forget to commend each other on the jobs well done; reward each other too. How you do so is entirely up to you.
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