We all have grand illusions on what it is like after a baby comes home. Your baby is content and on a schedule like you read in the books (depending on what book you read), your home is maintained the same way with the addition of a couple of baby related items, and all the extra baby tasks are split evenly between your spouse and yourself. If you already had your baby, you will realize this was all a dream that did not come true. Reality is not at all like this.
Often when talking to friends, the topic of splitting duties come up. Friends usually start to complain about how their spouse is not pulling their weight around the house and they wished their spouse would do more. The last thing I would hear from this conversation was how “unfair” it was.
Having been through the dreaming stage and the reality stage, I try to explain to my friends that “it is never going to feel fair, it is never going to be fair, and it is likely fair.” Here are my explanations for this statement:
IT IS NEVER GOING TO FEEL FAIR
You will always and forever feel like you are doing WAY more than your spouse. The reason being is you had to do more from the start. You had to carry your baby for nine months. During this time, you had to eat well, exercise or walk often, go to doctor’s appointment for check-ups, and get poked/examined if you were having complications or concerns with your pregnancy. Then comes labor. You had to literally push a watermelon through a straw or get cut into two like you were part of a magic show to have your baby.
After that, comes caring for your baby. You had to learn to bond, breastfeed, and care for your baby. You had to feed your baby around the clock because your baby’s stomach is the size of a grape. You had to keep your baby alive when you haven’t had a good night’s rest since your baby was born.
IT IS NEVER GOING TO BE FAIR
There are things that only mom can do (like breast feed) for baby. Your spouse would probably love to help but can’t physically. You can try to “level” the playing field by pumping and having your spouse bottle feed your baby. However, have you thought about what your spouse may think is unfair to him?
He might feel it is unfair that he doesn’t get to listen to your baby’s heart beat at every doctor’s appointment because he was at work; he doesn’t get to feel your baby kick inside of you; he doesn’t get to experience the bond between mom and baby for 9 months. The only thing your spouse can do is to play catch up and hope your baby bonds with him or even remotely likes him.
Unless your spouse takes some paternity leave, he might think it is unfair that you get to spend all your time with your baby while he goes to work everyday, and missing out some of the important milestones.
IT IS LIKELY FAIR
Despite all the things you are doing for your baby, it is likely your spouse is also doing things to help out. You just might not notice these things because you are tired and angry from all the unfair thinking you are doing. If you find the time to list out what things your spouse does, his to-do list might be just as long as yours. Each of your roles might not be a 50/50 split but likely pretty darn close.
Thinking back to my own personal experiences, I realize that:
- I haven’t washed a single load of laundry since my daughter was born. I just fold her clothes because I literally don’t know how our new washer/dryer works. I never bothered to learn either.
- I didn’t do any research into different kinds of formula despite my daughter needing formula to supplement my breast feeding since she was born.
- I don’t know how much diapers cost because I haven’t bought any before.
- I don’t know how to change the diaper genie.
The things I didn’t do wasn’t done by a magical fairy. It was done by my spouse while I was taking care of other things with our baby. While you can try to list out all the tasks and assign responsibilities. It is just easier to assume things won’t be fair at 50/50 but will get done either by you or your spouse.
Monica Hui is a working mom in Calgary, Alberta, constantly looking for ways to do things faster and faster so that she can slow down to have pretend picnics with her daughter. Her website, www.wishahmon.com, shares her own personal experiences, mom tips, and DIY projects in hopes of helping other moms create an easier, prettier, and efficient mom life. You can follow her on facebook or Instagram, @wishahmon.