One of the things I’m most grateful for in the parenting arrangement my husband and I have worked out is that he’s the one who gets up with the baby. There are several reasons for this (such as the fact that I usually can’t fall back asleep for hours), but the primary reason is because I stay home with the kids.
I know this arrangement may seem counterintuitive and maybe even a little unfair: He has to put on dress clothes and uncomfortable shoes and interact with actual human beings all day, whereas I can wear PJs from start to finish while eating lots of chocolate and fatty foods to get myself through until bedtime (yes, yes. I KNOW that’s a bad idea). I can usually put my paid work off until a better day, and things like laundry and dishes are done on a self-imposed deadline. But really, it makes a lot of sense and is more “fair” overall for everyone involved (because let’s be honest: so much of marriage comes down to discussions over what’s “fair” or not. It’s like a never-ending kindergarten battle over who had what toy first.)
Why is it more fair?
Because if the parent who stays home with the kids doesn’t sleep (be it the mom or the dad), multiple family members pay the cost:
- The kids may get put in front of the TV too much, which will lead to brain rot and keep them from someday joining the ranks of contributing members of society (otherwise known as “Really Useful Engines”);
- The kids may get disciplined instead of redirected, which will lead to absurdly high therapy bills, both for us and for their future families. Reducing tax-deductible medical costs is good both for our checkbook as well as for the national debt;
- The kids may get snapped—or even yelled at—for minor, un-snap, un-yell worthy things (see above);
All that said, there are many reasons to let the work-outside-the-home parent sleep:
- If s/he is an attorney or judge with a trial the next day;
- If s/he operates motor vehicles or carnival rides for a living;
- If s/he works at a daycare;
- If s/he works at a nuclear power plant or the Pentagon;
Before you go thinking how lucky I am, I should point out that I often get up at 4am, which is when the little guy wakes up. So oddly, although my husband’s sleep is broken into chunks (a MISERABLE way to sleep), he frequently gets more sleep than me, especially on weekends.
(Ha! Equal points, people, equal points!)
There’s also the option of switching off, which can be a great way to go since it’s “fair” for both parents and reduces (or evens out) score keeping. It tends not to work for us, but, you know, once Andy starts hallucinating, I figure it’s time I step up a bit.
I recently decided to take New Year’s resolutions a bit more seriously than in the past (I mean really? Wait until 1/1/xx to start bettering ones self? Makes no sense to me, but this year I’m giving it a go), and I’m going to try the same with Valentine’s Day. With nine days to go until the big to-do, I’m racking my brain for things I love about my husband (okay, it really isn’t THAT hard). With three kids and lots of marriage under our belts, this list has turned away from things like:
What gorgeous eyes!
He’s best writer I know!
Check out those calves!
He doesn’t mind unloading the dishwasher!
He gets up with the baby!
He likes to run errands!
It’s funny how things change with a bit more of life in the (I’ll-get-to-it-someday) scrapbook. The jury’s still out, but I’m pretty sure I’ll take night wakings and unloaded silverware baskets over gorgeous eyes and a well-turned phrase any day.