Balancing Parenting Duties When One Parent Stays at Home
One of the hardest things about parenting is agreeing on how to be parents. You and your spouse have to agree to a reasonable degree on many issues, most especially discipline. Without such agreement life can be very confusing and inconsistent for the children.
This can be accented when one parent stays at home. That parent is with the children far more than the one working outside the home, and the impact of inconsistencies can be huge.
But you also need to agree on the duties each parent has. You do not want one parent to have the “bad cop” duty all the time. That means the old “wait until your father gets home” threat can be highly unfair to the father, as well as making the punishment be completely unrelated to the discipline issue.
You need to discuss how various issues will be handled. What punishments are appropriate? When can each parent have a break (and both often need one!)? Who is responsible for getting the kids up and who puts them to bed?
One of the key things the stay at home parent needs to remember is that if they don’t ask for it, they are not likely to get time off from being the primary caregiver for the children. And most find it so hard to ask for. Besides, both the kids and the at home parent quickly build habits that mean that one parent will be asked for more things even when both are at home.
Within my own family, I’ve found that it helps to just tell my husband that I want him to go do something with the kids if I need some quiet time, or tell him I need time out of the house alone. It works for us.
Those are the kinds of things you have to figure out. Both the parents need time for themselves sometimes. For some, a little quiet time watching television or playing on the computer is sufficient. Maybe time for a hobby. For others, time outside the home to do as they please is necessary.
It’s also important for the kids to have time with each parent. This is why you have to make sure that when you are both home you are both helping. There are lots of fun things each parent can do with the children, as well as making sure rules are followed and chores get done.
If you find the balance of parenting duties is getting out of hand, it’s time to sit down while the kids are in bed and figure it out. You don’t need to wait for one of you to snap from sheer frustration. A good balance makes everything less wearing on the entire family.