Below is a short list of how I ensure I have time to do things that are important to me.
1. I sleep trained in order to have time to myself at night. Sometimes I use the time to watch Bravo, maybe I’ll work out, write, meal-prep, or put the baby to bed, call grandma over and go to dinner.
Did you know sleep training (crying it out) is controversial? I love curling up in bed, phone in hand, watching a good sleep training fight unfold right before my eyes in the facebook comments of a “Mom Group.” Women on either side of the argument are prepped as fuck. They have multiple sources, an army of people logged on ready to back them, and a bibliography in case anyone requires sources properly formatted (APA style, MLA style, Chicago style… they’ve got it). Facebook group moderators comment on the post and remind everyone “this is a safe space, please remember to be kind” when in reality they’ve lost all control. In elementary school, we used to have Peer Mediators. Peer Mediators walked around in turquoise vests with a clipboard looking for fights amongst their peers that required mediating. They had an action plan and a process to solve the problem. Facebook moderators are modern day virtual Peer Mediators but they don’t have a worksheet for anyone to fill out to and the escalation chain has very few repercussions. A shout out to our Facebook moderators in 2020! What a role you have taken, I see you. As I continue to scroll, reading through each comment, I wonder “how does anyone have this kind of time?” Meanwhile, I’ve read both sides of the argument, creeped on each mom involved and have decided the winner of the debate. I have my opinion but never engage. I sleep trained my baby. Her demeanor was right and my intuition told me to. Was it awful? I can’t remember. Odds are she never will either. I haven’t noticed any lasting, subconscious effects on either of us, but I’ll keep you updated. Bedtime usually starts at 7pm and 99 out of 100 times, until 6:30am. I don’t have any facts to support my decision, and I’m not passionate one way or another. I am passionate about finding what works for you. However, if sleep training is YOUR passion, let’s discuss.
Honestly, I’ve got all night.
2. I send my child to daycare because I like to work. I like to problem solve, schmooze, and circle back. I enjoy the irony of a meeting that could be an email, and a corporate bro just trying to climb the corporate ladder.
The first day I dropped her off, I handed her to one of the girls at our daycare, looked around thinking, “that’s it?” I walked out the door and to my car, touched the handle of the door and immediately started crying. I cried for the next hour and on and off for the remainder of the day. I relinquished control on something I worked so hard to create. I never cared so much or worked so hard on a project and handed it off for someone else to finish. Each and every weekday for the next eighteen years I will drop off my creation and when I pick her up, she will be slightly altered. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. But from that day on, I wouldn’t mold her alone. A tough pill to swallow, and also a sigh of relief. A tangible reminder to take it all a day at a time. By day 3 of daycare, this realization slowly faded. The reality of life set in and I asked myself, “Is daycare open Saturday?”
3. Sometimes, I’m the non-default parent.
Here’s a quick instruction guide for making a dad an alternate default parent: When the baby is really little, leave the baby with its father. Everyone will likely be fine and it’ll save you some headache later. Don’t come back for hours. Trusting dad to be resourceful is okay, I promise. You’ll walk in the door and the baby will immediately be back in your arms. Know that. Expect that. Laugh at that. Your partner will wonder how you do it so often. “How do you care for the baby and yourself? There is so much to think about,” they’ll say. Dad now knows what it’s like to carry the mental load for a brief period of time. As the baby gets older leave for longer and ask them to help you with more tasks. “Can you go to Target and buy her some leggings?” If they can’t figure out this task, teach them. They’ll start to understand how new clothes appear in drawers. After small incremental lessons, you’ll have created a default parent…right before your eyes.
To summarize: set expectations, teach, and don’t have a baby with an asshole if you can help it.