Thursday, 19 March 2015

Fathering is not babysitting

My lovely husband cashed in the electricity credit we've been building up since having solar panels and surprised me with a new tablet/laptop thing. It's super cool! Today's blog is a tribute to him.

While I'm out on my own, it never ceases to amaze me how many people ask me who's babysitting the children. I always say something like "Ed is parenting them." When we had one baby I also found it quite irritating how impressed people were to find that my husband was capable of looking after her. Seriously people, it's not that hard. The only thing he cannot do is breastfeed but he's pretty good at heating up expressed breast milk. Really, not that hard.

We now have three children under three and at times it is hard to do on your own. It is particularly challenging between 6 and 7pm when they all have to be fed, bathed and put to bed, when they are all reaching the end of their tether and when you too are just looking forward to that moment when you can sit down. 

Unfortunately, when I have meetings they are always at 6pm. Even if the meeting only goes for half an hour it always seems to be at 6pm and so I miss the hour of power and Ed is left to do it on his own. He has managed this time without me far more frequently than I have without him and I am grateful. Apart from the general whinging and crying to worry about at this time of day, this is also the most hazardous time of the day so it is right to have heightened stress levels. In our house, if anyone is going to choke or drown, it is between 6 and 7pm, the time when I am most regularly not home. Sorry Ed.

Generally what happens is at 6pm we all eat together. Miss 2 finishes before the babies so one of us helps her get in the bath. Shortly after, one of the babies joins her in the bath so we have Parent One supervising the bath while Parent Two supervises the baby still eating. Once the second baby is ready, Parent Two will take the baby to the bath and swap him with the first baby who is now clean, get first baby dry and take him off to bed. Once the change table is clear, Parent One will get second baby out of the bath and into bed. Parent Two, after successfully putting one baby to bed, will then convince Miss 2 that it is time to get out of the bath and get her off to bed. 

Parent Two will usually emerge from Miss 2's bedroom feeling pretty awesome because they know all children are in bed but then find Parent One on the floor of the dining area trying to clean up the enormous mess which is somehow produced each night. We're not done yet. They will then help with the kitchen/dining cleaning before moving to the next job of tidying up the living area which is typically a carpet of toys and books. Finally, after all children are in bed and all cleaning and tidying is complete, we will both sit down. We are a team. Nobody sits down until it is all done.

This is the routine when we are both home. It's hard work. When Ed has to do it on his own, it is really hard work. To all the Dads out there who think they are awesome for sitting on the couch watching tv while your baby sleeps so that your wife can go out one night, yes you are doing something good. Yes, it might be a little difficult if the baby wakes up. However, until you have successfully fed, bathed and put to bed three under three, I'm not going to be impressed. Even then, it's parenting. It's not babysitting.

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