Since becoming a mum and networking with other mums, it is sad to hear so many women feel overly stressed, because they bear the responsibilities that come with parenting alone. Of course parenting alone is possible, I honestly look up to single Mums. I take my hat of to the Mums who are happy to do all of the parenting even while in a relationship.
It is different for everyone and there is no right or wrong way. Some mums like to do it all, don’t find it stressful and that’s great. My mum was a single mum and gave my brother and I the most incredible upbringing. I am married and my husband works 12 hour shifts for the emergency services, often working nights. After 4 days and nights of doing everything alone, I need time out to fully do things like shower, tidy up and untangle my hair. My daughter is 9 months and only likes to sleep on me. I love making the most of baby cuddles. However, in my circumstance, I get very little time out 24/7.
I have found ways to balance parenting with my partner around his busy work schedule. If I can do it, then so can you, if that’s what you want.
Mums in a relationship/marriage who have no help can feel so let down. Plus there’s always more mess, laundry and housework especially when you live with a messy partner.
Women go through massive hormonal changes and are vulnerable to post-natal depression, even after the early stages of having a baby. Yet this weight they carry because their partner is not sharing responsibilities is damaging in many ways. Women are left to feel stressed, unsupported, isolated and lonely. Consequently, a child can pick up on the stress and this impacts their wellbeing. Children are like sponges after all and there is some interesting evidence to suggest parents stress levels, can impact their child’s risk of mood disorders such as addiction and autism.
I believe it is true that it is both the Mum and Dad’s responsibility to bring up a child. If a parent only parents sometimes, then that is no different to say being separated.
The kitchen should not be a no man’s land. Changing nappies and helping with the basic care of a child, should not just be a mum’s work. Even when Mums stay at home full time, their work is still 24 hours a day. Being a stay-at-home mum is work. Partners that work long night shifts are still not working 24 hours, every effort should be made to help mums get their basic self-care needs met. Primarily during the new-born stage and the first year, mums sacrifice so much more. Mums for example sacrifice sleep, getting a chance to exercise and taking care of herself in order to look and feel good. Alongside spending much more time in the house around an ever-flowing laundry basket and an unruly kitchen, that she cannot always keep on top of alone. It can feel so stressful to always be surrounded by mess and disorganisation. A messy home certainly does contribute to a cluttered mind. Dad’s do go through massive changes too and it is important to support each other through these transitions. As Mums are more likely to be the main carer, this is from a mums perspective.
Dads should sacrifice aspects of their life to give Mums much needed time out. Overall, the impacts of there not being enough balance can contribute to post-natal depression and parental burnout.
Some Parental burnout Signs:
Impacts of not sharing parental roles are:
Negative feelings towards your significant other
Strain on the Relationship
These impacts can lead to poor caretaking of the child.
Ways to share responsibilities/ help each other
Identify Root Causes
What are your parenting beliefs? How involved were your parents while you were growing up? What parenting roles did you witness during your childhood? Did your parents share roles?
Identifying these factors can allow you to understand why you have the standards that you do. It will hold a mirror up to clearly see, why you think and act, in a set way as a parent. Understanding why your partner has unhelpful habits for example, can help you to not feel resentment. It will deepen your understanding and open space for you to discuss what changes you need for your shared parenting to be at its best. If your partner values what you need to enjoy parenthood the best you can, they will adapt their ways.
Think of the qualities that brought you and your partner together. Remember the qualities in your partner and think of what they do contribute, to avoid resentment.
Do you always organise and put away the clothes? Is this something you wouldn’t ask your partner to do, because they wouldn’t be able to do it “right”. What does your partner take ownership of, because only they can do it effectively? If you stick to what you are best at but share responsibilities that you are both familiar with, things will keep balanced. Work towards finding solutions, to work together, rather than shifting blame.
Be open about your expectations alongside your needs. Discuss how the parenting roles witnessed during your childhood, has shaped who you are today. Share why and how you need support to thrive as a new parent. Think about your emotional needs. For example, do you see the kitchen as the foundation of organisation? If it is kept messy all day, does this leave you with a foggy mind? Does a messy kitchen make the rest of the house feel a mess? Share how much it can improve your stress levels, to have time to keep on top of it or to have help to keep it manageable.
If you feel like your mental wellbeing is suffering, discuss it so you can have more support. Let your partner know when everything feels on top of you and you are struggling. Use the feelings you have about how things are, to create specific solutions that your partner can help you with.
Create new habits
Consistent small changes will help you to move forward. Small steps will prevent your partner from feeling overwhelmed, while keeping you moving in the right direction.
If your partner cannot share roles, as much as those that do not work long hours, find ways to balance life. One idea is to freeze and prepare meals in advance, to free up time when one parent is alone with the child.
Support Each other
Even if you have a set way of doing things, don’t try to get your partner to do things how you prefer. Supporting each other and their ways of getting things done will boost confidence.
Accept that you and your partners journey is different from the journey of others. Embrace the strengths and qualities, you both contribute and as team you will flourish.
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear any tips you have in the comments below.