When you have kids and one of you decides to stay at home to look after them how exactly do you structure your day without entering into a competitive debate over whose day was worse in order to get the other to look after the kids while you have a break?
Invariably there are two worlds running concurrently. While I am at work, my wife gets our daughter ready for school, makes sure she has a packed lunch, her books and everything she needs for the day, she then cares for our very disruptive 2 year old son, whilst simultaneously doing all the washing, ironing, cleaning etc, but then I’m out at work, the clue is in the name work. I’m not out at easy villa or relax town, I’m at work, where you are judged on your ambition, drive and ability to get things done. Not exactly a relaxed, peaceful environment where you catch up on all the lost sleep because your eldest had a nightmare that she lost her wings after being turned into a fairy!
So why is it then, that when I work through the door, I’m immediately expected to go into parenting mode without even taking a breath. I get the opportunity to take my uniform off, hear how horrible my wife’s day has been then bam! I’m in the living room on my knees acting like a horse and then passing a bus back and forth whilst singing the alphabet and wheels on the bus 32 times. I do it because that’s my second job, I’m a parent with responsibilities and we give and take and compromise in order to make life just tolerable enough.
Please don’t get the wrong end of the stick with this post, I am not arguing that my day is harder than my wife’s, on the contrary, I am very much at the end of my tether after a couple of hours with my kids, but she has at least 1 for the majority of the day. So where’s the solution? She deserves a break from them when I get home and I want a rest from the pressures of performing, the easiest seems to be that my working day extends to the moment when the eldest goes to bed, allowing my wife a brief respite, then she is responsible for getting the youngest off to sleep while I get things prepared and ready for the next day. Once the kids are asleep we both have the opportunity then to relax and do what we want to do. But somehow, we both still feel slightly cheated because we are either too tired, or it is too late for time for us and even though we have kids, we have to remember that we still have a marriage to nurture as well.
But alas, there is nothing to be done, they are our kids, they are our responsibility and even though my head drops slightly when I realise it is time to go home from work, I need to realise that when I get home, I am not babysitting, I am parenting and I should be grateful that I get the opportunity to do it night after night after night after night.