the transition from one parent in charge to the other

(3 Posts)
sahdad2 Mon 18-May-15 18:59:55

i look after my two pre-school boys (just 5 and just 2) full time and my wife has a full time job. we've been parenting like this for 20 months or so now. both boys are fabulously friendly and confident and playful (and its not just me that says so). though i'm simply astonished at how much energy it all takes, i love being with them - it really has been quite a journey the three of us have been on to get to where we are now.
what i want to ask about is this. how do people cope with the relationship issues generated by this sort of arrangement? its not really the gender-thing i'm asking about here - though i'm sure that makes the issues bigger and sharper. what i'm asking about is how people deal with the transition from full-time carer-time (for me from about 8:30 am until dw gets home just before 6) to part-time carer-time? for all sorts of reasons - which i'm sure do have a lot to do with gender - this feels in our case like a transition from a long period when i'm in total charge of the little ones to a period when i'm the assistant to the one who is in total charge of the little ones. this has proved to be - basically - impossible for us to handle. what we now tend to do in order to cope is combine my wife's very strong desire to parent when she comes home with my almost equally strong need for a rest: so she takes over completely and i disappear completely. any attempt i might make to play any significant role after she has returned home usually proves to be a disaster - and any attempt to mention (let alone discuss) any of the parenting issues (good or bad) that have arisen through the day, also tends to produce unpleasantness between us. we also have great difficulty getting through the weekend without getting embroiled in exhausting relationship problems.

more generally i wonder how much real CO-parenting goes on in the world. it seems to me that two adults would need to have the most fantabulous relationship in order to be able to parent without one being the boss and the other the assistant. there are just SO many decisions (usually small decisions) to be made in any given three minute period, i just can't imagine two grown-ups who were really able to make them together in a consistently cheerful and friendly way.
thanks in advance for any help!

BotleyYellow Tue 19-May-15 14:34:25

You raise something here that almost every partnership will have issues with! Gender does throw your particular points into sharp relief but there is so much that is shared by others as well. I looked after DS on maternity leave while DH went to work; and then we co-parented in the evenings/weekends. In my head it's me as the main carer who makes all the decisions, but I know (from bitter experience) that DH feels/felt excluded by this. There are some things that have made this dilemma easier for me at least: nursery (ie time where your child is looked after by a 3rd party and you and your partner do you own jobs/things), making some tasks 'belong' to one or the other (eg certain types of play are better/more fun with daddy or mummy [thereby making that parent feel that they have special responsibilities/are particularly good at something]), working harder to try and make the times when it is all of us together work better (and having the conversations about those times in advance without the child present). So, for example, my DH is the cook - he is responsible for all meal preparation, meal planning, purchasing of most food; this means that he has a massive input into how our lives are run. I am responsible for (now) supervising homework, organizing playdates, thinking about what we will do at the weekend, taking DS to school, and so much else! Things change as your child gets older/more independent. But it does sound as if you need to spend some time just you and your partner together talking things through - and even trying to do that can be a minefield I know. Perhaps someone else will have advice on here? I will keep watching as I feel that I too could do with some guidance!

sahdad2 Tue 19-May-15 18:17:11

thinking about what we will do at the weekend - that's a doozy

very helpful post. i'm glad you think its probably a very common problem.

thanks so much!

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