How we share our parenting duties…

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby on. Posted in BABY, LIFE, New Mom Experience, PHOTO

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{note: when I say WORK or STUFF to do- I mean actual work for the businesses we own,  that make us actual money. When I say BLOG WORK or BLOG STUFF, I mean work related to this blog, so it’s more like a hobby}

Whenever Andrew and I discussed parenting before we had a baby, we agreed on pretty much everything. One of those things being that both parents, mother and father, should have an equally active role in a child’s life, if possible.

See, we were both working together, each pulling 50% of the work load. We also cleaned the house together. We cooked together ( he would cut, I would cook). We played together. We watched movies and shows together. When I got pregnant, we took care of my pregnant self together when I was sick as a dog the first few months, we prepared for birth together, we read parenting books together ( though that last one was hard, because Andrew hates reading) So it was only natural that we would go into parenting thinking that we would do a precise unconditional 50/50.

Since I didn’t want to stop working completely, our plan was to divide up our week so that I work Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Andrew works Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Weekends would be spent  as a family. I know it’s not a conventional set up, but our situation is not conventional either. We both work from home and are self-employed. We had the opportunity to have BOTH parents stay home, while BOTH parents worked. It was promising to be fabulous. We’d also separate diaper duty (Andrew) and breastfeeding (me) regardless of whose work day it was. I was hoping that such an arrangement would ensure that Alexis enjoys spending time with her daddy as much as she does with her mommy.

And then having a baby happened.  And that changed everything.

My master plan did not take into account what I didn’t know. That is Alexis needed to eat EVERY 30-40 minutes for MONTHS after birth. That boob babies are strongly attached to their mommies. I had expected to not work and be on “baby duty” for the first few months. So no big deal. It was clear work wouldn’t happen at that time. But the universe had other plans, though. A few weeks postpartum, we received a letter from the IRS stating that they were going to be conducting an audit. BAM! In your face!

Guess who does all corporate and personal taxes for all the businesses in the family? THIS GIRL! Guess who wasn’t emotionally prepared for something of this magnitude just a few weeks after giving birth? You guessed it- THIS GIRL! I honestly had NO idea HOW I was going to dig up massive tax returns from 2 years ago and actually remember what I did there when all my mind and body could handle is a few weeks old baby who was very demanding, didn’t sleep and was attached to my breast. {for those who know anything about taxes, the year that was being audited had 2 S-corp returns, 2 or 3 Schedule Cs, 4 Depreciation schedules, Office in Home and a few other miscellaneous schedules, along with a pretty long 1040, so I had my work cut out for me.}

So I was “forced” to go back to work. I spent a few weeks pulling out all the information, trying to make sense of what was filed and remember why I did certain things, while Andrew fumbled around with Lexi and kept bringing her to me to eat every 40-60 minutes, and then I had to put her to sleep every 2 hours.  That pretty much rendered my whole “work time” non-existent. I literally got maybe 2 hours of work done the whole day that I’d be working due to all the interruptions. Luckily we still had m mom here which at least meant the meals were cooked and served ( Ah! How I miss that!) In addition to that, to my surprise, while I liked doing something that  required my brain to actually function, I missed Lexi so much every single second even though she was literally one room over.

So after the audit came and went uneventfully, I happily went back to taking care of Alexis with the understanding that I will go back to work in a few months. Those few months have passed now and I have a ton of outstanding work things to do, but somehow I just haven’t gotten there.

We’ve sort of accepted that Andrew works and I take care of Lexi. It’s not necessarily how it is going to stay or how I want it to stay, because there are things that I am ignoring work wise that are soon going to become urgent. But in the meantime, we just figure it out as we go.

So as of this moment, here’s how things work around here on daily basis:

We do everything together until about 10 am when Andrew “goes to work” and I put Lexi down for her first nap.

7:00-7:30am Up for the day and after a quick fruit for breakfast ( Lexi eats with us, too), we go running/rollerblading together.

8:30-9:00 am We are back and take turns playing with Alexis while the other person makes and eats cereal and cleans up the high chair from the morning fruit.

9:00-10:00 We take turn showering. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, we lounge and talk for too long that we don’t have time to shower that morning, so we take one a bit later. Sometimes we take a family shower.

10:00-11:00/12:00 While Lexi sleeps I try to do as much blog stuff  done as possible: answer emails, send emails, pre-write posts, put together photos, edit videos, update social media, answer comments, research baby products, look up things, schedule things, buy stuff. Usually, she wakes up every 30-40 minutes of her nap and I have to go back there to put her to sleep again (usually via nursing), so out of a good 2 hour nap, I am lucky if I get an hour of blog work done, less if she sleeps for an hour and a half. Once in a while she will sleep a solid hour before waking up.

If hunger strikes during naptime, Andrew usually makes us something to eat. Because I refuse to be on my computer when Alexis is awake, I take nap time as a full-on blog “don’t talk to me I am busy” time, so I don’t do anything but try to get AS MUCH blog stuff done as possible. If she wakes up by the time we are ready to eat again, I either put her in her high chair while I make lunch, or have Andrew take a break from work and be with her if he’s milling around looking for food, or if Andrew volunteers, he makes us lunch. We kind of go by the mood of the moment and whether there’s urgent work to be done or it’s a slow work day.

12:00/1:00pm Andrew goes back to work, and Lexi and I play, go to the pool, talk to grandma on skype, sing songs, read books, go for a walk, clean the house a bit with her in the carrier, do some household chores, etc etc.

Since the beginning we’ve established that breastfeeding is my thing (obviously), and diaper changes arevhis. It stayed that way, so 80% of the diapers get changed by Andrew. It’s a way for him to see Lexi throughout the day even on the busy days when he has to work,work,work.

3:00/4:00 pm I put her down for another nap, and do blog work again ( with the same uninterrupted urgency). And once she wakes up and as long it is past 6, we drag daddy away from his desk, go for a walk together, make dinner together, eat together, take a bath together, dress her for the night together and then I put her to sleep. While I put her to sleep, Andrew cleans up the damage of a messy eater that Alexis is, puts leftovers away, takes the trash out etc.

Then we usually spend 2-3 hours together sitting on our recliners, while I work on m computer and he watches Battlestar Galactica or some other guy show on his phone. We are hoping to somehow get back into movie and show watching, but with the little reliable time during nap that I get to work on the blog, I have to take the 2 hours in the evening to catch up on post writing.

The day goes a bit different, if one of us has to go somewhere (Andrew – to meet clients, Lexi and I – to a meetup or class), but this is pretty much what a typical “stay/work at home” day is like for our family. The grocery shopping usually happens on the days that we have to get out of the house for some other reason. We don’t really go to stores other than grocery stores, since it’s more convenient (and cheaper) to order almost everything online. We will take an occasional trip to Lowes once a while, but that’s about it when it comes to shopping. I try to drag Andrew out to some event or the beach every once in a while during the week too. That’s a wonderful benefit of being self-employed.

It’s not perfect, but it works for now. Hubs gets a decent amount of work done with all our interruptions and Lexi gets to see her daddy a lot throughout the day. All the family and household chores is done by whoever isn’t holding/playing/feeding Alexis. With cloth diapers and BLW, we pretty much have to throw in a load of baby wash at least once a day (between diapers and her clothes), and the eating area has to be cleaned and Lexi bathed close to 3 times a day. We try and do it all on the go, whoever has a free hand to grab the diapers, clean the chair, etc etc

On the weekends, we are in the full blown mode of getting things done around the house, so one person takes care of Lexi while the other does whatever household stuff needs to be done. That is unless we go out somewhere.

I had hoped that part time working/part time staying home would work for both of us, but so far it hasn’t. It’s probably time to try it again, God knows I have a million work related things to do that have been burning a whole in my to-do list, but somehow we’ve settled into this current routine and it is really hard to pry Andrew away from his desk and his work day, now that he’s been doing that for months and is also very busy. I also would like to get more organized when it comes to work. Working from home, with a baby around IS distracting. So we both need to concentrate more on the task at hand.

I guess writing this post has made me realize that we need to make a bigger push towards the initial plan, at least until some stuff gets done and doesn’t hang over me any longer. Andrew seems to have settled really well into work without my help and is handling it just fine, so I don’t think I will need to work permanently again, but there are a few things, like accounting, taxes, administrative and organizational stuff, as well as marketing that DO need attention from me on semi-regular basis. So after writing this, I think we’ll have to talk it over and make some changes.

That is the most wonderful thing about just sitting down and writing exactly what I think in a post. As I go, it makes me realize my own feelings better, understand the situation and see it from a different perspective. It makes me want to try harder, be better, do better, as if I have this invisible audience that is cheering me on and laying out my feelings and problems out there for me to see.

{Note to myself: Starting next week I will take 1 full day a week to do work. Now that Alexis eats less often and hubs is more efficient and skilled at taking care of her, anticipating her needs, playing with her, I think I can manage to make a small dent in the work that has piled up. Once we’ve gotten that into a routine, we will re-assess the need for more or less work time for me.}

Now a little about Lexi’s attachment to her dad.

There was no doubt she would get securely and strongly attached to her mama. However, with dads in the first year or so, it’s not as much of a given.

As much as I want to say that Andrew was a natural at taking care of and playing with a baby, it was just not true.  And that wasn’t for the lack of trying on his part.  He just simply didn’t really know how to interact with a baby. See, he was the youngest in his family, he grew up not knowing any babies, he never had a special love for babies or children either, so he sort of stayed away from them. We knew that with his OWN baby, things would be different, but we underestimated what lack of baby/children socialization experience means. It was a little bit hard for him to know what to do at first, to know how to connect to this newborn who couldn’t reciprocate. I remember him always saying “I can’t wait until she can hug us!” :) So he tried and tried and tried and with my help and “nudging”, so to say, I can proudly say that he is much more comfortable having fun with Alexis. And of course she adores him. He isn’t the rough-housing, goofy dad… That’s my job. He is a book reading (surprise surprise), talking, showing dad. That’s his personality. And I am really glad because often I can’t come up with as many conversations with Lexi and he does. There is one thing he has always done really well is do what needed to be done – bathing, feeding, changing, rocking…

I am glad it didn’t take too long for them to TRULY connect, but now she reaches towards daddy when she sees him to be picked up, she pumps her legs in the air when we peek at his desk around the corner. He is learning to be more spontaneous and fun with her, too. I can see him watch me goof around with her and try to repeat it.  I know that it takes him a while to learn new things and I cannot wait to see what kind of dad he will be in a year, because I know he will be even better than he is now. So exciting!

What was your experience with your significant others when it came to your first born? Share!

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Comments (25)

  • Elena @ The Art of Making a Baby

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    Some of the comments posted on the old website might not be displayed here. I apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience during the transition.

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  • Krista

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    My husband wasn’t a natural, per se, but he learned really really quickly. Like your husband, he helps out as much as he possibly can with our 2 year old, and he always has. I formula fed and we even split night time feeding duties. Now he does bath time and I do bed time.

    Now that’s she’s older, he’s really come into his own as a dad. They play together, goof around, do wild and silly things and DD just loves that. She needs that bc I’m more the nurturer and her dad is the wilder, playing one. It’s beautiful to see them together. There is something SO special about a little girl and her daddy.

    Reply

  • Anna

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    What helped me get some work done (I have some freelance projects and work from home now), was to get a nanny for my son. I know you’re not keen on the idea, and I wasn’t either, but I figured that I will be just in the other room in case something happens, I can feed him anytime, or put him to nap if she cannot manage, it’s 3 hours a day only (2xweek), and he actually can use some new games and songs that nanny has. It’s been working out really great. Maybe it’s an option?

    P.S. I LOVE Lexi with her iny ponny tails!!

    Reply

  • Kate

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    I have been following you for awhile and I’ve never posted a comment, but my fiance and I have been talking about parenting more and more and I just had to comment. Concerning future children, I hope we can split responsibilities 50/50, but I know things will change immediately upon the arrival of our first child. However, I feel that being proactive now and discussing it will help (a bit?) when the chaos of a child comes. My motto is “If it takes two to make it, it takes two to raise it!” I’m glad to hear you went with the flow–I hope I’m as laid back as you about new baby chaos because I like to plan and list and organize and I twitch when it doesn’t go my way… I guess I’ll be on one crazy ride when I become a mama! P.S. Lexi’s hair in pigtails? ADORABLE!!

    Reply

  • Ori

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    we changed roles… i work, daddy stays at home.
    it’s hard for me to leave the baby at home, the first days i was crying while leaving the house….
    but now, everything is fine :) the baby seems to like daddy more than me, but that doesn’t matter. he will know who i am, when he gets older.
    when i get home, its my turn to do everything with the baby. feed, play, change and bring him to bed, so he doesn’t think, that i’m a stranger 😉 and it works :)

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  • Mary

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    “…boob babies are strongly attached to their mommies.”
    FYI: formula-fed babies are “strongly attached to their mommies” too.

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    • Cindy

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      I so agree with that! I formula-fed both my girls (who are now 5 and 3) and they’re still super-attached to me! But they’re also super close to their daddy, and he also got to enjoy the wonderful duty of feeding them. All babies, I think, are most attached to their primary cargiver. I have a good friend who is a stay-at-home-dad to 4 kids, and they are all stuck on him! :)

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      • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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        I kind of meant attached as in “I’m her primary food source” and that she was literally almost “attached” to me 😉
        It wasn’t meant to imply that formula babies don’t get attached. I think they attach to whoever feeds them most and spends most time with them, which in the case of BFing, mothers usually are.
        I had thought that we’d bottle feed her expressed milk too but it didn’t work out that way…

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  • Elena C.

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    Wow! I never knew about that audit!
    I can only imagine how hard it was to focus being sleep deprived and tired and just wanting to be with Lexi.
    Andrew is so adorable with Lexi :)
    I totally don’t know what to do with babies either, but Massi (having had one already) seems to know exactly what to do :)))))
    We’ll see :)
    Love the way you edited the pics for this post!
    On one where you have a blue top and Lexi is sitting on your leg – Lexi totally looks like you :)

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    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Yeah it kind of sucked! I cried when i got the audit letter cuz things were already overwhelming. Luckily it went without a hitch and we actually got more deductions in that I hadn’t included the first time around lol
      Re: not knowing what to do, oh trust me you will!!! :)

      Re: picture, right? I need to put it side by side with a 4 year old me.

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  • Melody

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    I totally hear ya on the boob babies attached to their mommies. At least with formula fed babies anyone can feed them. I’m all my son has (since we don’t give bottles or pacifiers). It’s nice to see tho it isn’t exactly how you had envisioned it you two still work well together!!

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  • Shalay Peterson

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    I LOVE this post!! I just found out that I’m pregnant (8 weeks along!) and I have been wondering what our lives will be like once we bring in a baby. I’m excited but a little nervous too, I don’t want to lose my husband because I am too focused on the baby ALL the time, which I understand is what they need but I hope you get what I mean. I just want to make sure that I don’t ignore my husband!
    Anyway! I love your little photoshoot!!! Are those selfies?

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    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      You serious? OMG congrats! I am so happy for you! You will do fine. As long as you INCLUDE your husband and he wants to be included, noone will feel left out.

      Re: photoshoot, YES THEY ARE :) Some of my first real selfies with Lexi. It’s a million times harder to do it with a baby, especially one that doesn’t walk. For the ones on the bed, I prepared, but the soft looking ones we kind of did spur of the moment, I had the camera propped up on a trash can LOL I am slowly trying to get back to self-portraiture.

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      • Sommer

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        Wait how did you get Lexi to look at the camera since they are selfies?

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        • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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          I try to wave my hand in that direction before the shutter goes off lol
          She’s always looked at the camera though, ever since she was a newborn.
          Plus I think the blinking light on the camera when it’s in remote mode catches her eye.

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      • Shalay

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        Thanks!!!! I am very very excited and so is hubby! I’ve been re-reading all of your pregnancy posts. :)
        The photos are BEAUTIFUL!!! I miss your defies so I’m always happy to see them! You’re so talented!!

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      • M

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        Wow, so if these are some of your first “Selfies” since Alexis, who has been taking most of the other photos of you?? Is your husband good with photography? Do you have a photographer follow you around (haha)? :)

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        • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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          I guess I have to say first “themed selfies”. Where I didn’t Just take a snapshot…
          Hubby takes a lot of pics of Lexi and me. I usually set it up, tell him where to shoot and the composition and then he takes it from there. Pics of Lexi are taken by me. So between the two of us we take a lot of pics.

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  • Anna

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    I’m very impressed you get THAT much done of the blog stuff in one (!) hour!!!! It takes me weeks sometimes to get to writing :-( and I do not have any children – just work, uni, gym and life :-) I leave home at 7am and I get home by about 9pm and literally fall asleep as I open my apartment’s door :) lol fairly hectic! And I don’t write things down so when I get time to blog I forget stuff :( gota re evaluate my blogging!
    Thank you for your sharing!!!! :)

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  • Krista

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    Even the best daddy’s with babies actually THRIVE when babies reach toddlerhood. That’s when they shine and step into their own because the babies DO interact with them. My husband is an amazing father but now that my son interacts with him, the relationship is on a whole new level.

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  • Laura

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    This will be so cool for Lexi to read when she’s older!

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  • Alessandra

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    I also run my own business from home and my little one is 6mths. I breastfeed too and settle her while lying down on my bed. I’d love to hear more about your settling techniques in the evening? I know you cosleep, and I basically do too with my little ones cot pushed right up against my bed and the rail taken off. I’m a breastfeeding mummy too and yes they are constantly attached it would seem!

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    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Hi Alessandra!

      There’s not much to our evening routine. After a walk dinner bath, we lie down and I nurse her to sleep. That’s all.

      Reply

  • kat

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    What do you guys do for work?
    ps- I LOVE reading posts like these :) and I’m so jealous you both get to be home with the baby although I imagine it would drive me wild. We had a little taste of it during the two hurricanes (and no power and no daycare for a week each) and I can’t imagine lasting past the week. Although it’s so diff since we were both under TIGHT schedules employed for someone else and trying to EACH get 40 hrs a week at the same time. ugh

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      I can imagine it must be hard. I think grass is always greener. When you stay home, you want to feel productive and work. When you work, you dream about staying home. :)

      Reply

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