It’s a Babywise Friendly Blog Network Pinterest day! Today we are talking about all the other people who watch our kids. Sitters, coaches, teachers, family. How do we choose who to let watch them? What are our expectations for people in these roles? Check out all the ladies and the Pinterest board to see all the great blogs.
My topic today is dads. (By dads and husbands I mean partners and co-parents in general.) I know, dads seem like a no-brainer on the list of who watches our kids. I mean, they are one of the parents! But if you are a Type A do everything yourself person like I am, even letting go to let your husband lead with the kids is hard. But it is so important to let that happen. If I try to do everything all the time, I end up resenting my husband for not doing more. That isn’t fair, as I didn’t even give him a chance! It isn’t fair to him because he doesn’t get the chance to develop his parenting skills. It isn’t fair to the kids because they don’t get to build their one on one relationship with their dad. And they so need that relationship without the ever-present shadow of mommy hanging around.
I am writing this post, in large part, as a reminder to myself of the reasons why I need to back off and let my husband take the kids sometimes. I hope that it helps others too. The girls are two months old now, and I haven’t really left them for long. Recently though, I did leave all three kids with Pat. It was necessary. I had to take the cat to the vet, and I really don’t like having the kids with me when I do that. Pat was on spring break, so it was the perfect chance to take care of her without the kids. When planning it I realized that Pat hadn’t been alone with the girls for longer than it takes me to shower yet. That isn’t good long term. I am nursing, so it is practical for me to be around all the time. But the girls are on more of a schedule now, so it was time to make a change. Here are some tips to make these early outings more doable.
1) Keep it brief at first. Don’t think that you have to be out all day. A short outing is all it takes to get started! I leave for less than an hour for the first outing. I have found keeping it short is best for me as a mom. It is not meant as a slight to my husband, he can totally handle the kids longer. But I feel the need to be back sooner, so that is what I do.
2) Feed the babies right before you leave. This is important if you are nursing. By feeding then leaving you can maximize the amount of time you have to be out. If you are bottle feeding this isn’t as big a deal, as your husband can feed the baby. I have found my biggest stress when being away from my babies is worrying I have left a hungry child. That isn’t fair to the baby, and it isn’t fair to the caregiver. I feel better knowing we do have a back up plan in case of emergencies. In our case that is milk in the freezer, and honestly a can of formula. (I know a lot of sources recommend not having any formula in the house if you want to breastfeed. I see the logic in that, you can’t quit if you have no back up plan. For me having a back up eliminates some of the worries that my child will starve and lets me relax a bit. This actually helps me nurse better. Do what is best for you.) Full babies are usually happy babies as well, which sets up a more successful time for all parties involved.
3) Trust your husband. This sounds so silly, I know. I am not trying to be disrespectful to husbands as caregivers. I just know as a mother I feel the need to be the total caretaker to my babies. I have a hard time letting someone else step in and care for them. So this is a me problem, not a husband problem. I think it is fairly normal though. I have to remind myself these are my husband’s children too. He wanted them, he loves them. He is a smart, wonderful man. (I mean, why else would I have married him?) He can handle the kids! He wants to handle the kids! We are a team of parents and it doesn’t have to be just me doing to caring. Of course this thinking is constantly needed, but it is especially important when the babies are super young. The sooner you can relax and see that the kids are just fine, even if things aren’t done exactly the way you do it, the easier it is to keep that attitude up.
What are the benefits for leaving the kids? I mean, who cares if you are the only one caring for them all the time. (We moms often think we are the only ones doing it right anyway. 😉 )
1) Good bonding time for your husband. Dads need to bond with the babies too. They have an important role to play. As the mother, I often have alone time with my kids. It is easy for me to always be around. But dads need and deserve that time too. They need to parent and enjoy their child without someone watching or participating. They need to feel free to make their own mistakes without judgmental eyes on them. (I know we aren’t trying to judge, but it is easy to feel judged.) The kids need to get to know their father on his own. Everyone wins from some alone time between father and child.
2) It helps build dad’s confidence. I think a lot of the time dads don’t participate in the early care of the babies out of a lack of confidence. They don’t want to mess up, they don’t want to hurt the baby, and they just don’t always know what to do. The best way to learn is to dive in and do the work! By spending time with the kids they will see the kids are fine if a diaper isn’t put on right. The kids don’t care if their outfits match perfectly. They just want to be loved. And dads are so good at that. Getting in there and changing diapers, holding the baby, and just loving them demystifies the whole situation. This helps dads feel good continuing to be in charge, which will be super important as the kids grow up.
3) It lets mom eliminate some pressure and resentment. Again, this might not be fair, but it is easy to resent your husband for not helping with the baby enough. The thing is, I have often found he doesn’t help a ton because I don’t let him! I jump in and try to do everything myself. By letting my husband take the lead early, I can get rid of some of that resentment. I also get some pressure of myself. I can see that someone can do things differently than me and the kids are just fine,
4) It helps mom recharge. This one is obvious. As much as I want to be everything to all my children all the time, sometimes I just need a break. I think when the kids are super little it can be so easy to forget this. But even though the newborn time is short, I still need moments here and there to step back and not have the immediate job of caring for the kids. It doesn’t have to be a long moment, but even running to the store for 15 minutes makes me feel better. No matter how frustrated I am with a parenting situation, being away from my kids makes me miss them. Missing them makes me want to dive back in there and deal with whatever we have going on.
With all these ideas in mind, I had my little outing without the kids. I was only gone about an hour, and of course Pat and the kids were just fine. I missed the kids so much, but I feel good that I am able to leave and things won’t fall apart. Of course I didn’t expect them to, but it still feels good to get a successful attempt under our belts. Now to remember my own advice and start planning my next escape! 🙂
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