Having My Husband Home On Parental Leave Gave Me A New Perspective On Parenting
By Rachael Watts
PHOTO © caitlinrheaphotos/Twenty20
Jan 8, 2019
While I was in labour with our first child, my husband got a new job (and I don’t mean as a father).
I’m still a work in progress, but adopting [my husband's] zen attitude has given me some calm that I plan to carry with me.
He literally got a phone call at the hospital that he’d be starting a new job ASAP. An extended vacation with both of us figuring out the new baby thing together quickly vanished and one week postpartum, he was gone for long hours while I muddled through dirty diapers, raging hormones and googling why one of my baby’s pupils was larger than the other (true story).
Fast forward five years. When we found out I was pregnant with baby three, we planned, saved and budgeted so my husband could take parental leave. That, combined with a job that allows the freedom to take time off, and we’ve been home together for almost eight months. I’m incredibly thankful for that and for the new perspective on parenting having him home has given me.
He heads back to work soon, but I’m going to try and adopt some of his chill throughout the coming months of solo daytime parenting. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Don’t Take Anything Too Seriously
The kids are crying, whining, bouncing off the walls. Hey, it’s cool. Their emotions don’t have to be my emotions. It’s easier said than done, but watching my husband let things roll off his back has been eye opening for me. Just because one of my kids is freaking out doesn’t mean I have to. I’m still a work in progress, but adopting his zen attitude has given me some calm that I plan to carry with me.
Related Reading: Mat Leave Wasn’t The Experience I Thought It’d Be
I love to run, but I have always waited until someone is around to watch the kids before I do it. My husband straps everyone into the stroller and, instead of driving to our destination, runs or walks. Once he’s back to work, this is something I plan to do too. Fresh air, exercise, better moods. It may be more work in advance to get everyone into their gear and out the door, but the payoff is 100 per cent worth the upfront pain. Bonus: We don’t have to struggle in and out of car seats.
Do Things With Them That You Like To Do (a.k.a. Don’t Cater Your Entire Day To The Kids)
My husband is super handy and loves a good DIY project. Where I used to feel like I couldn’t work on something with the kids around, he has taken to involving the older two in his projects. He feels satisfied that he’s getting something done and they feel proud that they’re learning a new skill.
Let Go Of Some Control
I’ve been a stay-at-home parent for the past five years. That means I’m the go-to parent for all the kids’ needs. My husband is really hands on when he’s home, but having him here full-time has been a game changer. He’s become a baby-wearing, snack-slinging machine and it honestly feels like the parenting is split 50/50. This has given me time to myself to feel like a human outside of kids and help me realize everyone is going to be alright, even if I’m not the one in charge of all the things.
Related Reading: How I Keep My Sanity As A Stay-At-Home Parent
It’s Never The End Of The World
We don’t need to schedule all our time. We can take a day off here and there. We can throw on the television or have grilled cheese for dinner (for the third night running). With someone else around to back my decisions, I let go of a lot of guilt and that was incredibly freeing. We did need to talk about jam and chocolate not being food groups, but overall a more relaxed approach to meals and screen time has been a nice change these past few months. And overall the kids watched about the same amount of television as they always did and ate at least one veggie a day (#winning).
We didn’t see eye to eye on everything over the past few months (and we definitely had tough days), but having some fresh perspective and someone around to share the load has made these some of our best months yet.
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