Life as a Mother

Sharing Baby Responsibilities With Daddy

When you have a baby, you and your partner will need to work together as you both get used to being parents. You're both learning how to care for your baby, and your relationship will change now you have a tiny and needy person to look after. Sharing the care of your baby, as well as other responsibilities such as household chores, will enable you to support each other and be the best parents you can be to your little one. Sharing responsibilities also enables you to get some time for yourself, which will make you feel more rested and happier. It can take time, patience and quite a bit of effort to get the balance right when it comes to shared parenting, but if you stand your ground and communicate your needs to each other, you'll be happier as a couple and as parents.

Should We Both Look After Baby?

If you stay at home with your baby while your partner goes out to work, you'll learn more quickly than he does how to care for your baby. You'll understand what your baby wants, know how to burp him effectively, change his nappy correctly, rock him to sleep etc. It can be frustrating therefore, when your partner comes home from work to see him floundering somewhat when he looks after the baby. You should however, resist the urge to swoop in and whisk the baby away from him so you can do it yourself. Your partner needs time to learn how to do things, just as you did. If he doesn't know how to do something, don't criticise him or say 'that isn't how you do it' before intervening; leave him to work it out, as this is how you learned how to care for your baby. If your partner is really struggling, you could gently suggest to him what he could do, for example by saying 'I've found that doing this helps'. Don't do it for him however, just give a little guidance. Give your partner lots of praise to build his confidence with your baby. Give him alone time with your baby as well, to allow him to feel he can care for your baby on his own. This will also enhance bonding between baby and father. With bit of time and patience on both your parts, your partner will find his way and be able to soothe and care for baby as well as you.

Daddy is Scared to Help, Or Doesn't Want To!

If your partner seems reluctant to step in and help with caring for your baby, it may be that he lacks confidence. Seeing how well you cope with your baby may make him feel redundant. Only by spending time alone looking after the baby can his confidence grow, so give him the baby while you run yourself a hot bath, have a lie down, or read a book. Your baby may cry when handed to your partner, as they are used to being with you all day. Although it's tempting to immediately take them back from your partner, leave your partner to soothe your baby so your baby can get used to being held by your partner.

Some men still ascribe to the old fashioned view that men and women have different roles. If you suspect your partner's reluctance to volunteer for child care duties is down to this, then put your foot down and stand your ground. Most men won't demand that it's their turn to change the next dirty nappy, so if you want the child care duties to be divided up more equally, you'll have to ask for it.

Should We Be Happy Doing Things Differently?

Sometimes parents differ on how they should do things. If your partner burps the baby differently, or uses different techniques to soothe his crying, try not to intervene. Remember that when it comes to childcare, there's normally more than one way of doing things, and your partner's way may be different, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Your partner may discover an amazing new technique for soothing your crying baby!

Sharing Household Duties

Communication is key here. Most mothers feel overwhelmed by the amount of housework that accumulates when they are looking after a newborn baby. If both parents stay at home, childcare and household duties should be split in half, with each parent doing their share. For couples where one partner goes to work, household duties and childcare should be split in half when the parent gets home. Some fathers who go out to work might assume a stay at home mother has lots of time to get housework done, and might not realise they should help out when they get home from work. Obviously if your partner works 70 hours a week, they won't be able to help out much, sharing responsibilities is about doing equal amounts when you're both at home. If they get in at a reasonable time, then household duties and childcare should be shared so you can finish work at the same time and then relax together at the end of the day.

Looking after a baby is a full time job in itself, by the time your partner gets home from work, you've done a full days' work too. If you feel your partner isn't doing enough around the house, talk to him about how you need his help. Bottling it up until you feel resentment and anger towards him over your never ending list of household chores can end up damaging your relationship, as well as giving you a baffled partner. Don't expect your partner to know what needs doing automatically however, write up a list of chores and divide it up. Choose tasks that you're both in charge of getting done.

Find Out What Works Best For You as a Couple

Be flexible in your approach to sharing responsibilities though. Some couples like dividing tasks such as household chores and childcare equally, whereas others like to carve out separate spheres of responsibility. Sometimes if the mother has been with baby all day, she might jump at the chance to do something else, such as cooking a meal, and this might work well for the father who wants to spend time with his baby after being at work. Talk to you partner about divvying up responsibilities, what you'd both like to be in charge of, and you can decide together what will work best for the both of you.

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This internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.