The trials and tribulations of a working mum and a stay at home dad
We had our little girl in June last year. I spent the first 8 ½ months of her life with her at home (read meeting friends, drinking coffee and eating A LOT of cake). I loved being with her, seeing all the new skills she learnt, teaching her new things, but I did find it quite mentally un-stimulating. I wasn’t used to the lack of adult conversation, the constant pressure of a full on job and I found it hard to switch off.
From before we’d even fallen pregnant my hubby used to say he’d happily be a stay at home dad so when it came to the topic of sharing our parental leave it was a no brainer. We thought it would be good for our little one to experience Daddy being the primary caregiver for a while, in this world of equality and all. Plus we are also of the opinion of use it or lose it, we don’t want the government to have the grounds to take the opportunity for shared parental leave away.
Early March rolled around quickly and it was soon time for me to head back to the day job and for Dave to start his holiday (ahem I mean shared parental leave). I’m pretty convinced he thought he was just going to be able to watch TV all day and our darling princess would sit quietly in a corner and let him.
Well, let me tell you, she had other ideas. For a start she’s crawling and pulling herself up on everything. So day 1 I returned home to any low surfaces having been cleared of all removable items and their contents placed on the breakfast bar (we won’t mention that most of them are still there……….)
Then mother nature chose that exact time for Arwen to cut teeth numbers 5, 6 and 7, so that meant a very grumpy baby who wasn’t such a fan of sleeping at any time of the day.
Coupled with the fact that she’s probably a little unsettled with her change of slave (sorry parent) this meant she was waking EVERY 2 hours in the night and downright refusing to nap in the day.
Now my husband is a wonderfully chilled man but he does need his sleep in order to maintain his good humour and sleep as I’ve said has been severely lacking recently. For the last few weeks he’s been wandering around looking more than a little zombie-fied, been a lot more grumpy and is mainly existing on frequent walks to the local coffee shop. Firstly to give him something to do in the day (I did try and tell him that it is a little boring) and also so he can get his daily fix of proper caffeine. We all know instant coffee or tea doesn’t really cut it when you’re up most of the night.
I can’t complain though, our little treasure is happy, the house is probably tidier than when I was off (well I was setting up a new business), there haven’t been any clothes shrinking incidents and the ironing is being done as soon as the clothes come off the line (a feat I never managed). So all in all I’d say he’s rocking this stay at home dad/ house husband thing.
So how am I coping. Well it’s nice to have a little headspace to think about things other than nappies, baby poo and washing, plus I think I’ve settled back into work pretty well. But I’m finding that by the time I get home every day we’re well in to the witching hour and our little angel has turned in to a whingey, scratchy monster who after the initial beaming smile when I first walk in the door, spends the next two hours, while I feed her, bath her and put her to bed, almost cross at me. So I’m missing my smiley little girl terribly.
I find myself searching for answers……’Maybe she’s angry that I’ve left her all day?’ or ‘Maybe its just that she’s feeling the effects of her lack of sleeping?’ Because that’s what I do you see I try to fix things and I’m finding it hard that Arwen is now mainly Dave’s responsibility. Sure I could interfere with everything, try to work full time and do everything for the baby too, but I told myself I wouldn’t do that, not only for my own sanity, but because I wanted Dave to have the full experience, warts and all. It’s safe to say he’s getting it!
All in all I think it’s made us stronger as a couple and as a family, both parents know what she needs and have the confidence to solo parent. If I go away for a weekend there’s none of this meal prepping for days beforehand, leaving endless lists and laying clothes out on the bed. For two reasons, firstly I don’t have time and secondly I don’t need to as he’s got this. Yes sometimes she ends up looking like a Raggedy Ann doll and eats way too much yoghurt for my liking, but she’s happy and we’re happy and quite frankly isn’t that what matters?
We have a better understanding of what the other is going through as we’ve both lived it, so we can really empathise. He now gets why, even though I was at home all day, I was shattered and a little grumpy at times (and he doesn’t even have a small human hanging off his boob every 2 hours!) All that remains to be seen is if he’s up for shared parental leave for baby number 2 should we be lucky enough to have another?!