We live in a generation where men are far more involved in most aspects of raising the kids than they were during our childhoods… or our parent’s childhoods. Sure, there are always exceptions, and there are certainly single dads, but historically it was usually the mom providing most of the day-to-day care, especially with newborns and babies.
These days a lot of dads want to be more involved. And while many exhausted mothers of young children might say they wish their partner would help more, believe it or not, sometimes the mom is the one preventing that help.
Since a tired mother is a tired wife, a mom’s exhaustion is often an incentive for fathers to help in babycare. But as much as they might want to be supportive, some men don’t know what to do, and some mothers don’t allow room for Dad to try.
It’s very common for mothers (and women in general) to adopt the attitude “Oh, it’s just easier if I do it myself.”
And while doing it yourself means you get to have control over how it’s done, it also spells exhaustion and frustration, which isn’t good for anyone.
So don’t be afraid to ask for help, accept the help you get, and let go of wanting things to be exactly how you expect them to be!
How can you encourage some equality in parenting?
• Be clear about what would be helpful.
You can’t expect your partner to read your mind, so tell him exactly what you’d like help with. Some women can be guilty of saying they want help, but they are vague about it, often expecting or wanting their partner to just instinctively know what to do.
Just be practical and matter-of-fact, and try not to be judgemental if your partner hasn’t figured out how to help on his own. Do things like leave a list on the fridge of things you’d like him to pick up on the way home from work, or sit down and have a chat about what baby-related tasks could help take some of the workload off. For example, you could suggest every second diaper change, or bath time every other night.
• Let Dad be alone with the baby.
I know this can be worrisome, especially if you’re a new mom, but it’s important for Dad to feel trusted and supported in his role as father, and the best way to do this is to give time alone with the baby. He may not do it exactly the way you do it, but you’ve got to let him find his own way of caring for his child.
• Delay the rescue.
When Dad picks up the crying baby, allow the two of them time and space to work it out, instead of immediately stepping in. When I’m helping my clients sleep-teach their babies, this can be a tricky one for moms. I’ve had to tell many a mom to back off and let Dad handle it.
Letting go and allowing someone else to step in and help is not always easy for mothers. But so many women run themselves ragged trying to do it all, and this is hard on the whole family. It’s so important to take care of yourself when you’re taking care of other people, otherwise you won’t be any good to anyone. So next time your partner asks how he can help, give him some suggestions and go take some time to rest or do something that will restore you. The whole family will benefit!
And speaking rest and restoration, if your baby or toddler isn’t sleeping straight through the night, make sure to check out The Sleep Sense Program, which gives you an easy-to-follow, step-by-step system that’s been proven to work by more than 109,000 families!
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