If you’re a new or expectant new parent, the topic of this post may seem a little baffling. You may be wondering, “why would both primary caregivers / parents not be caring for their newborn”? The reality is that the scenarios below happen fairly regularly.
Bringing Up Baby
Surprisingly, it is relatively common for this scenario to occur. The reality is that oftentimes one parent is the primary income earner, making spending time with their baby harder because their time is more limited. Another scenario happens when one parent doesn’t feel particularly confident in their caregiving ability. The other spouse steps in to care for the child and this becomes their primary role.
Why Caregiving Can Not Be One Sided
The following scenarios have all occurred throughout my career and during interactions / consulting with new parents:
- One parent travels frequently for work. The other parent is the primary caregiver. What happens if the primary caregiver gets sick, has to leave town or have an unexpected surgery?
- New parents have recently welcomed twins, triplets, or higher order multiples. Each parent is trying to find their way with all the babies, often gravitating towards one more than the other. I have actually run into the challenge where one parent does not know how to care for or handle the other baby. This means that only one parent can care for one baby. How challenging is that!? The answer, VERY!
- We are in pandemic times and they aren’t easy! Covid-19 has brought with it many, many challenges for parents from all walks of life. When one parent gets Covid, the other parent has to take over child care duties. This is not only because the sick parent may not have the capacity to care for the child(ren), but also because families may be trying to prevent other members from getting sick.
What Are Parents To Do?
The answer is simple, but parenting looks different for each family. The way you choose to co-parent is your choice. Here are a few tips:
- Give your partner space. Ultimately, both parents need to be given the space to figure out what works best for them and their child. Consistency in routine is very important, so you both must be on the same page regarding discipline, crying, routine etc.But, each parent needs to be given the opportunity to figure out how to interact, handle and care for their child. Even simple things like how to change your baby’s diaper are important!
- Bring in a professional. If you’re still struggling with anything specific, sleep for example, it really can make some of these other things challenging. Bring in a professional to help both of you get on the same page and to a better place. Just doing a few simple things can really lessen the load on one caregiver – think mom having to hold the baby for all sleep day and night…hours and hours and hours per day. It’s exhausting. Your life will be transformed.
- Make time for your kiddo. If you are the primary income earner, you need to figure out a way to spend time with your little one regularly. The same time each day is ideal, but not as important as actually dedicating the time. Here are a few suggestions:
- If you go to work early, plan to be home before your baby/child goes to bed and help with the bedtime routine.
- If your wife is breastfeeding, introduce bottles as soon as is appropriate (earlier the better, but in a limited capacity – see our blog post HERE). This will allow you to spend time bonding with your baby and learning how to feed him/her.
- Plan a regular weekly activity together with your child/baby. This daddy or mommy time is dedicated just to your child, so please leave work and devices behind.
- Avoid becoming the “fun or discipline” parent. Firstly, it’s not fair to your child. Secondly, It’s not fair to your spouse. Remember that while fun with your child is important, it’s even more important to care for your child on the regular. Think of how often diapers need changing, babies take naps and your little human needs to eat. You as their parents need to know how to do these things AND feel confident doing them.
Have questions about your baby or parenting journey? Please reach out. We are here to help!