Sharing the parenting load
Friday, September 13th, 2013
In today’s modern family, parenting duties can be a tough act to juggle. Long gone are the days when the traditional father would depart for work at daybreak, leaving the traditional mother at home to manage the children single-handedly. Of course many families still do fit this mould to some degree, but there are likely to be many more factors to consider, whether it’s the challenge of scheduling two busy careers around childcare, or the deeper-rooted aftereffects of a divorce. The single most important thing is to always keep communication channels open, and consult your partner frequently on decisions affecting your children.
The fun stuff
Quality time with your children is invaluable. Actual physical hours spent playing with them, talking ג and listening ג to them, reading to them, cuddling them and introducing them to new activities is golden time. It’s what will bond you together for the rest of your lives, laying the foundations for your future relationship. It’s so important not to let your daily schedule dictate that only one parent gets to do the majority of the fun stuff, after all, if mummy is the גboring’ one who’s always loading the dishwasher and folding laundry, and daddy is the גfun’ one who swings you into the air, tickles you and makes you laugh uncontrollably, then which parent are you always going to choose? Make sure you and your partner are aware if one parent is holding the monopoly on fun, and address it accordingly.
The boring stuff
Of course parenting itself is not just about spending time with kids, playing idyllically and having a wonderful time. It’s about doing their laundry, shopping for their food then cooking it, keeping them clean and up-to-date with their medical appointments, arranging haircuts, hosting playdates, planning birthday parties and so much more. Your working lives may dictate that one of you is naturally more involved in this aspect of parenting. This is fair enough, but if this is what dictates your weekdays, make sure this part of parental responsibilities is managed evenly during weekends and holidays. The best advice is to lay it all out on the table then agree a schedule that is both practical and fair.
For some families, parents fall by default into a גgood cop, bad cop’ routine, and that works well enough for them, as long as both parties are happy. In reality, it’s best that your child doesn’t grow up thinking that daddy is the strict one and mummy’s a pushover. If you’re unhappy with the role you are playing in your child’s discipline, get it out in the open and agree on a sensible way forward. The single most important thing is to present a united front at all times.
Single parent families
If you’ve split up with your child’s other parent, then it’s crucial to manage childcare so that both of you have access and proper time to bond with your child. Where possible try to remain amicable and approachable about all aspects of the parenting load, and hide any hostilities from your little one.
If you’re truly on your own, then you are both mother and father by default. This is where friends and family become vital pieces of the puzzle. Your child needs your support more than anything, but he also needs a variety of different role models. Make sure to structure some time into your lives when he spends time with other people, both to give you a necessary break and to expose him to other ways of life.
Other relatives count too
Even if all is well and you have no real physical or financial need to outsource childcare to your family, it’s still essential to allow your child to spend time with other relatives. Parenting extends far beyond the actual parents themselves, and your child has so much to learn from grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. A strong family unit, no matter how large or small, will provide your child with the building blocks to a happy, healthy, secure and confident life.