Dividing Childcare Evenly: How My Wife & I Manage It

Inspiring 22

Xavier in bathtubIt’s 3 a.m. My son’s arms are wrapped around my neck. He's sick and I’m covered in a fine mist of everything he’s expelling from his nose and mouth. One word comes to mind: Lucky.

A lot of dads would disagree. They push babies and their care off on mom. But when it comes to rearing our son, my wife and I divide childcare right down the middle. He’s adopted, so I could never use breastfeeding as an excuse to avoid middle-of-the-night meals. In truth, I didn’t want to. I waited my whole life for him. Why miss a minute?

My son joined us when he was 4 days old. In our first few weeks with him, my wife and I jumped up together whenever he made a sound. Since I had changed one diaper in my life, and she hadn’t changed any since her teens, we tag-teamed that too, each of us holding a leg!

But after a month or so, we began alternating the wail watch, and from there evolved our routine. One of us dresses him for bed and puts him down at 7 p.m., and is on call until midnight. The other person takes over from midnight through the 7 a.m. morning ritual. You dress him, hand him his first bottle and make his breakfast an hour later. For the rest of the day, we share diapering, cleaning and feeding.

Not every task is evenly split, and it's probably not surprising that I do more of the playing with while my wife does almost all of the clothes and toy shopping. It works for us.

The overnight shift, naturally, can still be wearying even after he began sleeping through the night at four months. But it’s also a blessing. I sometimes hope our son will awaken just so I can be with him. I feel a connection with him then that is unlike the daylight hours. In the groggy silent night, when he is curled on my lap, another word comes to mind, the one he exclaims whenever I enter the room. Oh yes, Daddy.

Does your childcare division work for you?

Image via Angela Johnson Meadows

boys, child care


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Coles... Coles_mom

I didn't know we had another male writer. Hope you're a little less goofy than Andrew. You sound like a decent guy. In my relationship (before it blew up), I LIKED being the caretaker. My husband worked a 9-5 and with three kids never once changed a diaper or got up in the night. That's not an exaggeration...it was the price I was willing to pay to stay home. Now he has someone younger and prettier and I'm left jobless with three going kids and can't find anyone to hire me. Lovely switch up to your story, huh?

linzemae linzemae

I have a 6week old. Even though I breastfeed I try to pump so my hubs can feed her. He travels for work so when he is home on the weekends I expect him to help. He loves every minute of being with her

Cel7777 Cel7777

This was simply beautiful :-).

jalaz77 jalaz77

We do try to keep it fairly even. Right now it's not working, we have a newborn so I tend to him and my husband tackles the other 3 most days. The more kids you have the harder it is to keep it 'even'. We just tackle the situation at that moment. I have to say when I am on maternity leave I do 100% of the night work, I want to as I breast feed. I have been pretty lucky about all our kids sleeping through the night by the time I go back to work but we try to take turns when kids stay home from school sick or are up at night for some reason. It can be hard but was easier with our first.

Reali... RealityCheckNow

Okay, I am the only one who noticed he said that they break it down evenly BUT it is true that he does more of the playing with and she does more of the clothes.  Playing with a baby isn't work and it doesn't contribute towards the childcare.  Doing more of the fun stuff than the other parent isn't spliting it evenly.  It means she has more mundanity  and he has more fun. If it works for them fine, but don't take credit for evenly splitting.  Just admit that you are 60/40 or 70/30 and that it works for you both.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I do all the practical stuff, it's my job. My husband is always up for playing and snuggling but he has a full time job supporting the family and I don't expect him to do the work at home too.

sssdnm sssdnm

Welll I have to admit I wish my husband helped more...but I stay at home so I take care of the baby most of the time. I do think its a fair split but for my babys sake I hope he bonds with him when he's a little older since me and him bond daily.

lovem... lovemy2sons25

Your wife is lucky! Lol Me and my boyfriend dont live together so I take care of our 2 boys by myself 99 percent of the time. He comes over on his 2 days off work but he works nights so hes usually tired so I still end up doing most of the work, but its not a big deal I get mad at him sometimes of course but I love being with my boys all the time, I wouldn't trade it for nothing!! Hopefully we can get our own place soon so he can do more... I dont think like an occasional hour or two of me time is to much to ask for!!

jessa... jessasmamma

My daughter's father... he would change one diaper and then flat out refuse because he had "done his part". I will never forget when my daughter was 10 months old. I asked him one morning to keep an eye on her while I showered, got dressed, etc. I started blow drying my hair and I heard her crying. I turned off the hair dryer, listened, didn't hear anything - so I went back to doing my hair. About 30 minutes later I went downstairs and she had a dirty diaper. I started changing her and asked him why he didn't change her himself - his response? "You asked me to watch her, not change her diaper." REALLY!?!?! I have to ASK you to change your daughters diaper?!?! Then I asked him if she had just gone, and he told me that she went about 5 minutes after I went upstairs. So.. my daughter sat in a poopy diaper for close to an hour AND HE KNEW ABOUT IT. So beyond unacceptable.

I wish her dad was like this writer. I would've been fine splitting the work 80(me) 20(him). I just wish he was actually responsible and a good dad. But he's not. And that's one of the reason's why he now lives 1000 miles away and is now my ex-husband.

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