They slam the door when baby is asleep. They ask what’s wrong when the crying doesn’t stop, as though you know but just don’t want to do anything about it. They change a diaper and ask you from the other room to get the wipes – which are right next to them.
Sometimes, dealing with your partner’s cluelessness makes it seem like there’s another child in the house.
So, what’s the solution? How do you incorporate a steady schedule so you can maintain a modicum of sanity? It’s hard, but it might just be doable.
The Honeymoon Phase
For the first week when we brought our little girl home, my husband would pop up like a jack-in-the-box when he heard crying in the middle of the night. After those first seven days? He slept like the dead. The transition from proudly changing her diaper to passing her off to me when she pooped was a definite wake-up call. So, what was the change? Did the excitement of having a new baby wear off that quickly? Was the honeymoon period already over?
No, I think the answer runs much deeper than that. As your little one gets older, their needs change. What was once relatively simple becomes more complex, and they may not know how to deal with it. Rather than face the fear of failure, they seem to simply sign off, often using the justification that we’ve just “got the mom gene.”
“Great job, sweetie.”
One of the best things I’ve found to combat this? Positive reinforcement and words of affirmation. It seems like the better they think they’re doing, the more they’ll actually want to do (what a shocker, I know). The other day I was feeding our daughter mashed sweet potatoes for the first time when my husband came home from work.
After offering him the spoon so he could give it a go, I saw he was a total natural, and so I told him that. He was shocked. “Really?” he asked, totally humbled. “Wow, thanks.”
Needless to say, he finished the feeding. It’s almost as though encouragement and positive affirmation are an invitation for our partners to be more involved.
A little quiet time
I’ve got to say though, being a new mom with a clueless partner is especially tough. We really want to prove to ourselves, and everyone else, that not only can we do it, but we can do it with style, panache, and grace. Then, of course, the sleepless nights, lack of showers, and glamour of constantly smelling like spit up sets in.
Alyssa Sample, wife to a full-time firefighter says, “I don’t think my husband realized how much work it was to take care of a baby until I left him with our son for three days. When I got home from my all girls trip he was almost in tears! It was great for him to realize just how much work it actually takes, and he was much more appreciative after that trip! He even said, ‘It’s easier going to work than staying home!’”
So, another great way to combat your partner’s cluelessness? Leave the baby with them for just a few hours and see how they handle it. Go get a pedicure, a massage, a haircut – anything to pamper yourself. You deserve it. And, chances are they’ll be a lot more compassionate and willing to help when they see that being a mom is a backbreaking, zero income, 24-hour job.
Let’s get real…
It’s not going to be easy. But, at the end of the day, open lines of communication and entering into conversations without a chip on your shoulder (trust me, I know it’s hard) is the best way to encourage equal parenting. It might be a long, hard road, but it’s worth it!