When the work day is over, we are all just parents

When you’re the at home parent it can feel like your day never ends. Since your job is looking after the kids and your workspace is mostly the home you are never too far away from one or the other. Add to that whatever household chores you’re responsible for and there is always work to be done, but unlike the working parent you can’t really leave it at the factory. A cleaned kitchen stays that way for 20 minutes at best at our house, and the cars the boys and I picked up before naps will return when they wake up. Since the job of being a parent has no office hours when you are the at home parent you are always on the clock.

I think the issue families run into when one parent works away from home, and one stays home with the kids, is thinking that the at home parent is always responsible for the parenting. It’s true that from 7:45 AM (when Beautiful heads to work) to 5:30 PM (when she comes home) my job is raising these kids and making sure that most of their blood stays in their bodies. But when she gets home it is no longer my job only, it is now OUR job. We are co-workers at that point, or more simply: parents. This may seem like a no brainer concept, and your family may do a great job at this already but not all of us do.

I know that when Beautiful was home and I was working for a software company I had the thought that the kids and house were her responsibility and making money was mine. I wouldn’t say that out loud but that was the way I felt inside, getting frustrated when asked to do my part with the boys. Beautiful is much better, as the working parent, at understanding this balance. Her expectation is that we work together and communicate to be sure we are a team. I don’t always see that from the working parents I know and I think it is something they need to think about. It’s an easier situation when both parents work since the expectation is that time with the kids is shared.

So how does your family do when both parents are home? Is parenting still the sole responsibility of the at home parent or do you become a team?

  5 comments for “When the work day is over, we are all just parents

  1. 03/23/2011 at 12:19 pm

    *Raises hand* I’m guilty as charged for this one.

    Before I started being a stay-at-home Dad, my time in the office felt like work and when I got home I just wanted to relax. Work was work, and home was for resting, it only made sense. I’d bust my ass for 8 hours a day and deserve a break when I got home. I’d do my best to help out with our child but there were times when I just wanted to veg out on the couch and let someone else do the work.

    Now that the shoe is on the other foot though, I totally see how painful it must have been for Momma during those days. Yeah, I’d help out when I could and give Momma a break but there were days when I just didn’t want too. I’m lucky though and there is a shared parenting at home now (and Momma even gives me breaks speficially when I’m tired and in need of rest).

    In all honesty, I think you have to experience it to really understand what it’s like to be a stay-at-home parent. Yeah, you can always empathise, but you never really know until you’re a parent 24/7, then sharing the responsibility of parenting is not only greatly appreciated but required sometimes.

    I almost wish it was required that parents spend 3-5 months being a stay-at-home parent just to fully understand what goes into it.
    Dustin´s last blog post ..He’s Here

  2. 03/24/2011 at 1:33 am

    So how does your family do when both parents are home? Is parenting still the sole responsibility of the at home parent or do you become a team?

    Depends on what it is. The kids divide their attention based upon the need. When it comes to comfort and food they tend to go head to their mother first.

    It is not what they are told to do, but it is what happens.

  3. 03/24/2011 at 5:42 pm

    I know when I worked outside the home I definitely felt like the parenting chores were more equal. But being a SAHM comes with some sacrifices. My job is different now.

    Portlanddad Reply:

    And as the stay at home parent you will always be responsible for more of the parenting but when both parents are home it should be equal. During that time when one partner is home and the other is at work, you are both doing your jobs, when both are done with work the parenting should be equal.

  4. 03/24/2011 at 8:23 pm

    I have been the stay at home parent for almost all of my kids life. Last year the role swapped for a while. . .almost a year. It was hard to adjust but we hit our stride eventually. Now that our roles are back to what is best for us I think how fortunate we were to see it from the other side. We have always been respectful, but now we really know where the other is coming from. Most families don’t get the opportunity to swap roles, and the kids don’t get the benefit of spending THAT much time with each parent. LUCKY US!

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