Doing anything full time can be draining, exhausting, and mundane. Whether you work in a paid job or a rather thankless one (parenting), you will sometimes get to the end of the day wondering if it was all worth it. But, to have an appreciation for what your partners’ experience is compared to yours can make life and your relationship so much easier.
I am lucky to be married to a teacher. Someone who despite always bringing work home and never really getting a break from work has 12 weeks “off” per year. In the ideal world, those 12 weeks would be full of picnics, barbecues, swims, and sunshine for our little family however reality means it is full time (paid) work for me rather than the part-time (paid) work hours I enjoy during the school term as an audiologist.
This effectively means a role-reversal for us, and no I am not talking about ‘daddy-daycare’. My husband is my daughters parent just like me and he fully understands his role when it comes to caring for her.
In January, I spent a month in full-time paid work while my husband was at home. At the end of that month, I can honestly say neither of us felt better off in either role. Parenting full time means time watching your babe grow, fun activities, messy kitchens, no scheduled lunch break, and an unpredictable (read: volatile) work mate (child). Life in paid full time work means missing the family fun, dealing with other peoples issues, watching the clock, real breaks without interruption for lunch, time spent doing something interesting and getting a money reward for it.
We were equally exhausted, busy, challenged and more importantly appreciated each other. I now have a partner who can pack a nappy bag, stick to a routine, whip up lunch and snacks and be creative with activities for our girl. I have a partner who needs no direction when it comes to our daughter because he understands her care as much as I do.
Our family makes such a good team and we have genuine appreciation for each other and our exhaustion. We don’t compete for who had the toughest day because in the end, we both know a little about what the other experienced.