“Before I left, I made sure the baby was fast asleep, the washing folded, and dishes from dinner cleaned.”, “Every time I go out he texts me that he can’t find the pot to cook the pasta in, or the baby is crying and he doesn’t know what to do.”, “Last time I left him for more than 1 hour with the baby I came home to toys everywhere, she hadn’t even been put to sleep!”. Does this sound familiar?
How many times have I heard this? Plenty. And I had a little thought this afternoon. For my own situation the only thing that improved this kind of thing was actually just handing the baby over to my husband, again, and again, and again. But really when you have your first baby together you are BOTH beginners, you have never changed a nappy, tried to make dinner with a screaming baby on the floor, settled a baby back to sleep.
Imagine if you both learnt to do those things from the get go, instead of trying to do it all yourself and then wondering why your other half doesn’t know what to do years later? I think it took well into a year before my husband could truly just take on our first son and manage him completely on his own for any required amount of hours or days even. For many women their partner NEVER figures out how to look after a child. I know what some of you are thinking, what about breastfeeding? Yes I exclusively breastfed. So yes you may not be keen to be away for too long at a time unless necessary.
I am guilty of this too, but I think when most women have their first baby you want to prove to yourself, to others, to your partner, that you GOT THIS. So you try really hard to do everything for the baby, feed (yes only a woman has breasts), bath them, settle them, put them to sleep, dress them, deal with any baby issues that arise. Your husband in the early days may (I hope) help by cooking, or cleaning, but women seem to handle all the baby stuff. The Dad plays the “fun” role, getting to cuddle the baby, holding them for short periods of time. Once your partner returns to work (in most situations) you try pick up the load even more, you clean and cook, and look after ALL baby needs, everyday, every night.
By all means I love that women dive into this role so wholeheartedly, and so did I. I also developed postpartum depression. Perhaps a bit more sharing of the load may have helped, along with other things. I think that being diagnosed with depression actually helped fast track my husband to get more involved. He used to come home and take our little boy for two hours, about 4 times a week, up Castle Hill in a carrier. Sometimes Jacob would like these walks, sometimes he’d only like it for half the time, and then he’d cry the rest of the way. But my husband kept taking him. I got to make dinner without anyone crying on the floor next to me, or pulling out every utensil in every cupboard. Just some peace and quiet.
If you want some time alone, even just 1 hour, that is okay! Even with a newborn! Your allowed to go grocery shopping by yourself and actually take your time. Let Daddy be a Dad, let him figure it all out just like you did. You don’t have to race out only when the baby is fast asleep, or only go out at night AFTER you cooked dinner for everyone else and washed up, and put the kids to bed.
I think every first time mummy needs to hear this. You may be able to do it all with one, but what about when it’s two, or three? And if he hasn’t learnt how to look after one baby, its going to be a lot harder to go out for dinner with the girls when you have three kids at home. If you have to pump to get a bottle, just in case, then do this, but it is very doable to be able to leave the house without a breastfed baby for 1 hour. And 1 hour maybe all your need to just have some YOU time.
If you come home and the baby has been crying or didn’t go to sleep, or he put them to sleep at the wrong time, or he didn’t use your cloth nappies, its OKAY! He is learning, let him learn, and praise him for whatever he tired to do. Play this card right and you’ll be able to leave him with three kids while you go away for a week.
Hand the Baby Over! Daddy time is important too, and not just when the baby is “happy”, let them develop their relationship through all kinds of baby emotional behavior 😉
Its time for Dads to be all they are made to be, and for Mums to ask and receive the help readily available to them. Only a couple generations ago Dads had almost no responsibility in raising children, other than financial and disciplinary, Dads struggled to even say “I love you” to their sons, let alone change a nappy and cook dinner with a child on their hip.
Women have entered the workforce like a powerful tidal wave, we work, we study, we aspire, we make babies. I love seeing more and more men flood the home front, staying at home more than ever before, attending kids birthday parties, playgroups and school events. Nothing is sexier than a man folding washing, cooking dinner or taking a baby on an outing solo. In fact studies do suggest these men get more sex… its a win win!