When I was an expectant first-time mother, I was never in short supply of unsolicited advice on what to expect when expecting, and what motherhood was going to be like. By the time I delivered, I was sure I knew everything I needed to know about being a good parent. Boy, was I wrong! There is no amount of preparation or advice that will prepare new parents for the day that little bundle of joy is handed over.
One of the biggest hurdles of being new parents for my husband and I was learning to co-parent. I had my ideas on parenting, and he had his. Sometimes those ideas were aligned, other times, not so much. I would insist that since I had a natural mother's instinct, my way was best. Eventually, I found myself doing 90% of the work, while my husband sat in the corner licking his parenting war wounds.
I realized that this was no way to parent. I needed help, and my husband needed to be a dad. I needed to let go and give my husband a chance to prove his ideas for parenting were not ridiculous. Slowly but surely I stepped back and let my husband be a partner in parenting. This not only made parenting easier, it helped my husband and I become a cohesive parenting team. Below are five tips that helped us become the parenting partnership that we are today.
1. Stop being such a control freak. Mom does not stand for "Move Outta MY" Way! If you harbor animosity about the fact that you are doing all the work, you have to decide whose fault that is. If you jump the second your child needs something, then what kind of message are you sending your parenting partner? You have to let go and let your partner be a parent too.
2. Add up your weekly parenting tasks, then divide by two. Make a list of your weekly parenting tasks including meals, laundry (your partner can switch a load or two), cleaning up at the end of the night... then share them with your partner. It may be hard at first to give up control, so start with off with small steps by sharing two or three things on your daily parenting list that your partner can help with. Ultimately working towards as much of a 50/50 split as possible. Start by sharing the nighttime routine activities. For example: One does dinner, the other does bath. Also, when your kids ask for help, redirect them to your parenting partner 50% of the time. This also helps to build trust in both parents ability to help, and gives the other parent a sense of importance through contribution.
3. Do not helicopter parent your partner. Trust that your partner can be a great parent. No one likes to be micromanaged. Seriously. Your partner is capable of a diaper change without you directing every move. You may feel that your way is better, but you may just be surprised to find out that daddy (or mommy) does know best.
4. Schedule "me time." You know, there is life outside of parenthood. Create a set in stone "me time" date every week. It is best to start off by filling your calendar for a month with a "me time" activity each week. Something you cannot back out of. Just saying you will go shopping on Saturday is not going to work -- one chore will lead to another and before you know it, it will be Sunday. Sign up for a yoga class, set up lunch with a friend or sibling, just get it in your mind every Saturday from 2-4 you are leaving the house without your child(ren). This also will give your partner some one-on-one time to be a parent without your watchful hawk eye.
BONUS Tip: (and one of my favorites) On the weekends, trade off on sleeping in. On Saturday one parent sleeps in, on Sunday the other... Even if sleeping in means coffee in bed with the paper while the kids jump all over you.
5. Communicate. You have to keep the line of communication open on both sides. You cannot talk at each other about what is best for your child(ren). You need to work together to create the best practices. Communication is also the key to understanding and, most of all, appreciating each other's parenting ideas and methods. You may be surprised to find something you hate doing, your partner doesn't mind doing. You may hate giving baths while your partner doesn't mind them. All of the sudden, you are never giving a bath again!
Parenting is a long road with ups and downs, in order to make the drive as smooth as possible you and your parenting partner have to pave it with kindness, consideration and communication.
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