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Am I mad in thinking parents should share child care?

(36 Posts)
PheasantFeather Fri 13-May-16 10:45:54

I run a business. So does my partner. His business, admittedly is more high pressured than mine (he runs a building company, small-med size) and I am an illustrator. I work to commission and have a very long waiting list, lots of work, website orders, admin etc. So it isn't without its stresses.
We have an 8 month baby and I didn't take maternity leave - we have been very lucky to have a very happy, placid baby and I have juggled looking after her and working since she was very small. I also work from home, which is helpful!

The reason I am asking for feedback is I do the majority of looking after the baby during the day and half the time, evening too. He works from home often but it is up to me to look after her, even when we are both trying to do work. He books meetings, goes to the gym, cycling etc but if I want to do something outside the house and sans baby, I have to ask him to look after her or organise child care. Basically, he comes and goes as he pleases and if he needs to go out while he is looking after her, he simply hands her back to me.

Don't get me wrong, he is GREAT with her and looks after her when I ask in the evenings or sometimes on Saturdays so I can work. It's just that it automatically seems to be my role, as the mother, to care for her, no discussion. And Im not sure I would want it any other way to be honest. But it just seems very backwards and I wonder why, in 2016, it is not the norm for parents, who are both self employed, to automatically share the childcare.

Are men just pre-dispositioned not to put the baby first? Or could this change?

Seeyounearertime Fri 13-May-16 10:51:29

I think, whole heartedly, that men on average are pre-dis-positioned to do what they're able to get away with.

if you let him plan all these things without thinking about the baby, if you automatically pick up the slack as it were, then he won't think about the baby will he?

does that make sense?

scallopsrgreat Fri 13-May-16 11:07:07

"Are men just pre-dispositioned not to put the baby first?" Nope. He's being an arse. Sorry flowers.

Men are conditioned to believe that childcare is a woman's domain. You really shouldn't have to ask him to look after your DD. What's going to happen when she gets to toddler status? Because working and looking after a toddler will be twice as difficult. It's the lack of respect that you will pick up the slack while his life has barely changed. It would make me very angry. I would say you need to bring this up with him. Frame it around how would he like it if you did this to him i.e. swanned off expecting him to pick up the slack; didn't by default look after your daughter when you are both working for home. Don't be afraid to tell him how disrespectful you find it and don't be fobbed off that your feelings are invalid. His reaction to this will answer your second question about whether this could change.

SpeakNoWords Fri 13-May-16 12:11:40

I completely agree with scallopsrgreat. I would challenge this behaviour as soon as possible so it doesn't become ingrained.

NewLife4Me Fri 13-May-16 12:18:14

Your dh is an arse.
We shared raising our children (don't like the word childcare for own children) and I was sahm.
Most fathers are as involved as the mothers if the parents are still together.

Pico2 Fri 13-May-16 12:38:59

I think that most couples with children end up with one as 'the default parent'. But in many situations this works well. I am the default parent, but I work PT and DH works FT. I also couldn't let go enough to let DH take equal responsibility for our DC, it would stress me out too much.

But in your situation, it isn't working for you and it isn't fair either. It also might put your business at risk as you are at risk of letting clients down or having to turn away work when you don't want to.

You need to address this further.

BabyGanoush Fri 13-May-16 12:46:16

Parents should share childcare? well, yes, obviously. But to what extent? What should the split be?

Well, try figuring it out for yourself first before setting down a general rule grin

I am very averse to any general rule setting for how couples/parents should behave. Cannot stand the "women should be at home" rhetoric, but neither do I hold truck with the "All couples should share childcare equally"

Talk to your partner to see what works best for your family, and what is fairest.

It's not the same for all couples.

Just thick carefully what you think would be fair, then discuss it!

VestalVirgin Fri 13-May-16 13:10:42

Perhaps it is because women, biologically, invest much more in children, and are therefore more invested in keeping them alive. (I know that men reading this will be offended ... perhaps read it to your husband and wait for the offended reaction, then point out that he never makes sure the baby is well cared for before he leaves the house)

Unlike housework, you cannot just leave the baby at home and wait if the husband does his share of the work.

What you can do, though, is to not politely ask if he would please, please do his share of childcare, but just drop her off in his home office and go for a walk. Make it clear to him that he will have to plan his baby-free times the same as you do, well in advance.
To be honest, I wouldn't even bring it up as big discussion, because that's implying that he can opt out if he argues his point well.
Only discuss it if he complains about your changed behaviour.

I do think it can change. But you have to be able to trust him to actually look after her, obviously. That seems to be one of the biggest obstacles; many mothers, rightly or wrongly, don't think that their husbands are able to do childcare well, and are therefore always taking up more responsibility.

TheSparrowhawk Fri 13-May-16 13:46:20

No, you're not mad. She's his baby too. Tell him in no uncertain terms that swanning in and out is no longer acceptable - he's a father, there's a baby to look after and he can't assume his servant is doing it for him.

PalmerViolet Fri 13-May-16 14:19:33

A general rule of thumb is that you and your DH have equal leisure time, this isn't happening now, and if he's not taking responsibility for his DDs care now, he needs to get his act together.

gandalf456 Fri 13-May-16 14:22:11

What would happen if you just went out? You need to change the feeling you have to ask just plan stuff tell him then go

Terrifiedandregretful Fri 13-May-16 18:25:15

Sadly I think your situation is very common (at least among people I know) but there's no need for it to be like that. He's being selfish and disrespectful to you. Talk to him about it now before it gets even more ingrained.

AnotherEmma Fri 13-May-16 18:29:36

Ideally you discuss it before you get pregnant
Failing that you discuss it before the baby is born
Failing that you discuss it soon afterwards.

Why have you waited this long? Don't wait any longer, discuss it with him today.

AnotherEmma Fri 13-May-16 18:30:22

PS I can see how this is arguably a feminist issue but I think it should be in relationships.

PalmerViolet Fri 13-May-16 18:41:47

I wouldn't put anything in relationships right now, where a woman is being harangued because she hasn't immediately gone and got the MAP after her H raped her because she knows how he will respond.

It's awful, almost like the women who are doing the haranguing know fuck all about leaving controlling men or who actively want her harmed. It's actually disgusting, the lack of compassion and kindness.

AnotherEmma Fri 13-May-16 19:11:38

That's not relevant to this thread. You've made your point on the thread in question, no point repeating it all over mumsnet.

PheasantFeather Fri 13-May-16 19:14:31

We did discuss how to raise her during pregnancy but things are very different when you actually have the baby - there are ideals and reality and I'm sure everyone knows that reality outweighs ideals ALOT when you have your first!
No ipad, no sugar, no tv, organic food etc etc - I said it all when pregnant but at 3am when your baby is wide awake, Charlie and Lola is a bl**dy life saver.

We also have spoken about it since she has been born and I have made him aware she is just as much his daughter as mine. We have even had arguments about it.
IF i had chosen to take maternity, then of course I would naturally be her main parent, but seeing as we BOTH agreed I could carry on with the business I love and didn't want to let slide, we decided that a more balanced approach would work. Even with these agreements in place though I feel like I am her main parent but he is such a great man; kind and so good with her that he isn't meaning to hurt me, it's just how it seems to pan out, day to day. And lets face it, mens lifestyles in the past havent changed very much when they've had a baby - we are the pregnant ones, we give birth, we feed the baby (if you choose to BF) and we are the ones, at the start, at any rate, that the baby goes to for comfort. It is only in the past 20 years or so that the ideas around men and raising children has really started to change but I think it might still be ingrained biologically.

I suppose my point was more about whether any other couples had found that they could have a very equal role or whether, biologically, historically and socially, we, as women, have largely and will always largely be the dominant parent when it comes to raising a baby.

AnotherEmma Fri 13-May-16 19:23:37

Of course there are plenty of parents who share the parenting equally.

A couple I'm friends with are a good example. The woman took maternity leave and looked after the baby during the day but they shared the parenting and housework at evenings and weekends. She went back to work full time and the baby goes to nursery. The man drops the baby off on his way to work and the woman collects her on her way home from work. Again they share childcare and housework 50-50 at evenings and weekends.

fryingtoday Fri 13-May-16 19:29:51

Be careful what you wish for ... Split from my partner and he is now claiming he was the primary carer and so our 5 year old should live with him. But seriously, don't sweat percentages, work out what works best for your family.

AnotherEmma Fri 13-May-16 19:30:31

Oh and the father took a month off work after the baby was born (2 weeks paternity leave and 2 weeks annual leave) during which time it was 50-50.

Obviously with both of you being self-employed you don't have the same rights to paid parental and annual leave, but you can still find ways to make the parenting more equal. Using some childcare so you have time to focus completely on your work might be a good place to start. Also sharing the parenting when you and he aren't working, and allowing roughly equal "me time" for each of you to have a break (eg by doing exercise or a hobby or seeing a friend without the baby).

annandale Fri 13-May-16 19:33:33

The default parent thing is really important to sort. It's important Imo that he understands his own thought processes -sounds as if he opts in to looking after her, so that if he hasn't opted in, someone else will do it.

Something like opt in days might be good - he opts in to sun, Tues, Thurs; you opt in to Mon, weds, Fri; sat is up for grabs. On those days that are his, he makes sure she is cared for. This may include asking if you are free for parts of the day.

PheasantFeather Fri 13-May-16 19:33:39

Agreed AnotherEmma - Ive just booked a course of yoga! She goes to nursery one day a week and after another discussion he has said he is willing to pay for 2 days a week, so maybe with 2 days just to myself, the issue won't raise its head as much.

catkind Fri 13-May-16 19:44:22

It's easy to slip into someone being the default and just not think. I was the default with small babies because I bf. For the last couple of years, DH was the default because I was working and he wasn't.

Maybe the easiest would be to assign days. On Mon/Weds/Fri, you're default parent and you ask him if you need childcare. On Tues/Thurs/Sat, he's default parent and he needs to ask you if he needs childcare. Or particular times - he works mornings, you work afternoons for eg.

The one that's "on duty" can still work if baby's otherwise occupied (which will be less of the time as they get older unless you sign up to some nursery/preschool sessions), but can't assume they can go to meetings or anything without asking. I would imagine if you were asked on your work shift, the answer would be "okay, but then you'll need to take baby this evening instead so I can finish xyz".

In many ways you're in an ideal situation where you can be super flexible about working times and childcare. But you will need to have some discipline about it to make sure you both do get your work done!

FurryGiraffe Fri 13-May-16 19:52:59

Apologies is this sounds harsh but while nursery will be helpful to you, it doesn't solve the fundamental problem that your DH is viewing you as default parent to your child. He needs to change his mindset- not open his wallet!

Fundamentally he is viewing your child as primarily your responsibility. It's not necessarily a conscious thing- it's evolved. You need him to break out of that. I agree about assigning times to be 'on duty'. It would probably help if you weren't in the house for some of it- then you're not there to take over/hand back to.

FWIW DH and I have a completely equal parenting relationship- we spend equal time 'in charge' of DS and neither of us would dream of making arrangements for evenings/weekends/days we're responsible for childcare without consulting the other. DS is both of our child.

AnotherEmma Fri 13-May-16 19:59:19

He's willing to pay for 2 days a week?! How generous of him hmm So is he also willing to do the childcare for 2.5 days a week (that's his half)?

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