I’ll never forget how sad Grant and I were the morning I returned to work after a 3-month maternity leave. It was heart-wrenching to turn over our tiny girl to strangers at a local daycare center. However, we wiped our tears, dropped off our daughter, and went to work. That’s what modern, turn-of-the-century parents do with their children, right?
Six weeks later, all three of us were very ill. Furthermore, we had little time together in the evening after working nine hours and commuting for one. Our new family was ill, disconnected, and exhausted.
My husband and I decided that to make this family work, we needed a change. My boss at the time suggested that we try what her family did: take our child out of daycare and have the husband be a stay-at-home dad.
I’m not going to enumerate the evils of daycare. I know that there are some great situations out there. I also know that some families have no choice but to use daycare. However, we wanted to be more involved in the care of our child but could not find a childcare situation that we felt was right for us. After much thought and discussion, we decided to go this route.
So, if you are mulling over such a decision, we’re here to encourage you. Here’s what we’ve found that works for us:
Check your ego at the door and roll up your sleeves. There is no such thing as strictly man’s work and woman’s work. We are both working for this family, and we both pitch in to do what needs to be done. If you eat, you help cook or clean up. If you wear it, you help wash it or put it away. If the baby has a messy diaper, change it!
Realize that there is no one primary caretaker. I rankle when I hear someone refer to my husband as the primary caretaker. When I get home from work, I don’t hide behind a newspaper like a 1950’s dad icon. We are both involved in the care of our child.
Trust your partner to do what they need to do. If you insist having everything done your way, then you will end up doing everything. Your husband might not do things the exactly how you would do them, but he can get them done. Likewise, relying on someone else for income is tough, too. Trust that your partner can fulfill their end of the bargain.
Develop a thick skin. You will get comments from people who do not understand your decision. Don’t waste energy trying to make them understand. Take comfort that you are doing the best for your family.