Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clock out

Sort of piggybacking on my post about stay-at-home vs. working parents, I'm remembering some things that moms have said regarding the working parent--usually the dad but not always--wanting to come home from work and relax for the rest of the night, and not really be responsible for anything.

Maybe that's a construct of the Cleaver family and Donna Reed and choose-your-own-1950's-stereotype, but sorry--that just doesn't happen. Or if it does, it is likely that there are unhappy people involved.

At least, it doesn't happen until the children are old enough to "clock out" on their own and take care of themselves a bit more--take their own showers, dress themselves, read or play games on their own, that sort of thing.

It is a frequent struggle to figure out how to divide responsibilities, regardless of which parent works when. With The Boy, we did both work, but I was the one with the steady full-time job and Musical Daddy was the one with more sporadic work in the evenings and on weekends, particularly during marching band season. If he wasn't rushing out the door right away, frequently I'd come home and "relax" by nursing The Boy and then hand him right back to Daddy while I prepared dinner and the next day's lunches.

One mom said, "You don't get to clock out--why should he?" Another mom said "Sure, when he comes home it is his time--his time to be with the baby!" It doesn't have to be a scorekeeping endeavor, trying to figure out who has it more difficult and who deserves more of a break at what time. Nor should either parent feel as if his/her share of the work (working outside of the home; household tasks; childcare tasks) is unfair. Personally, I find it to be something of a relief if Musical Daddy entertains the children while I finish the household tasks that I may or may not have been able to accomplish during the day and get dinner ready. Then I can take the time and relax with my family.


areyoukiddingme said...

Haha...when my husband went back to work, while I was only working part time, he would come home after work and do NOTHING. He would play with the baby a little, but I was doing almost everything, because I "didn't have to work." This past summer, he was home with our daughter for almost 3 months. They had a great time together, but the minute I got home from work, he was absolved of all child duties. She was now my problem. Luckily for him, I can just laugh at this, rather than getting resentful of the inequal treatment.

Jennifer said...

I responded to the other on facebook... I'm all over the place. :)

My Sister in law somehow had it perfect. She stayed home with the kids and as soon as my brother got home the kids and all responsibilities are his. I need to take some lessons from her. lol

Actually, DH and I pretty much share responsibilities. We each have some things we always tend to do, but we are both "on duty" when we get home. He really does try to help out a lot...with everything - cooking, cleaning, laundry, DD, etc.

We clock out when she goes to bed and then we are just on call. :)

Sarah R said...

Maybe it's a personal preference, but when I get home from work, I want to do everything for Andrew. I do all the diaper changes, read him books, etc. because I miss him from being away during the day.

I can see how some men (not to stereotype) would just come home from a day at work and relax.

It's sort of like when I was on my maternity leave--I did absolutely everything and all of a sudden it was time to go back and I had to show DH how to properly change a diaper. The only bad thing was I was the one holding Andrew 95% of the time, so then the bonding thing had to happen and I wish I had just had him hold him a little more too.

Sarah said...

I really struggle with the score keeping. I try not to, but it's hard not to feel grumpy those times when I feel like I'm contributing so much more. DH also has this thing about only one of us being on duty at a time so that the other one can get stuff done (since we're both still students we're working out of the home and also bringing work home with us). Because of that system, the tendency to tally things up comes along much to easily.