In my opinion, the idea of "co-parenting" should just be summed up in the word "parenting." I don't understand how the roles of parenthood were ever so divided. Being a parent is such a challenging, life-giving and selfless role that it really takes a team to do it well. I am continuing the Real Mom Series today on the topic of "Co-Parenting" with some other lovely bloggers. I hope you enjoy what I have to share, as well as my peers' stories.
Ryan and I grew up very differently, but one thing that we had in common was that our moms did most of the day-to-day parenting. My mom worked full-time and his mom stayed at home, but the roles of our dads were simply to work and be a disciplinarian. Our dads didn't do much of the feeding, cooking, laundry, diaper changing, homework, grocery shopping, hair brushing, play date going, etc. We both agreed that we wish we saw more of our dads in the picture, and so we knew if we had children that was going to be something we would be intentional about.
So, when we had Elle I thought everything would fall into place easily, but I quickly learned we had a lot of expectations to sort through. Co-parenting is something that, quite like marriage, requires constant communication. Right now, parenting is the source of most of our fights, but not because we dislike parenting, rather, it's because we want it to feel SO equal that the second we feel like someone is doing more than the other we start becoming resentful and agitated.
When you first get married you divvy up roles. For example, Ryan does most of our bookkeeping, taking out the trash, dog poop clean up and we'll take turns on the dishes. I do the cooking, laundry, house cleaning and dishes. With parenting, we share roles. We take turns getting up in the middle of the night feeding Levi. If one gets up in the middle of the night for the 3:30am feeding than the other wakes up with the kids at 5:30am. On weekends, when Ryan is home from work, we take turns changing diapers, doing feedings, making meals, etc. But never do we have someone just doing dirty diapers because, duh, that would suck.
What makes the shared responsibilities muddy is the fact that I stay home with the kids and run a side business while he works a 40 hour desk job. I'm obviously changing a lot more diapers, making more meals, and playing mom more than he is, so when he gets home I want to be able to have a moment to myself. It's the kid free hours we fight over most and the sense of entitlement that we both feel to them. One thing that we both agree on is that being home with the kids all day every day is WAY harder than going to a desk job and having adult conversations. Ryan has stayed home with the kids for consecutive days while I was away on business, and he totally agrees.
So, we started daddy-daughter dates to give Elle more quality time with Ryan, and to give me a moment to myself. Another thing that we do is that we both have one night a week that we get to go out with our friends. Every other week we try to have a date night and hire a babysitter. Those three things have helped tremendously with balance.
I would say the biggest thing that has helped us be better co-parents is a lot of communication. Sometimes we communicate with some yelling, but we have definitely learned it's better to talk than to bottle up any feelings.
Lastly, just realizing that we are in a different place than we were before children, and that we simply can't do whatever we want when we want has helped tremendously. Letting go of that expectation has saved us from many fights.
We are an open book when it comes to our journey as parents, so feel free to ask more questions if you'd like.
Photos by Creative Marriages