How much worth do you place on the day to day care-taking that you’re doing for your newborn? This can be a really challenging time for both parents. But it’s something that you should be discussing with one another because one of you will be the primary caregiver of your newborn – either for the time your leave allows (which, for the record is never enough!) or a lot longer. Especially if you’ve made the choice as a new family for one of you to stay home after reducing your hours to part-time, or quitting your pre-baby job altogether.
It’s a discussion you need to have because all too often, the person who quits work or reduces their out-of-the-home work hours, has a challenge initially seeing the work they’re doing inside the home as having the same or more value than what they were doing “before.” Why?
Because before, you wore work clothes and drank fancy espresso drinks and had meaningful discussions about current events and attended important meetings and made big decisions, etc. And after, (at least for a little while) you’re still wearing sweatpants at 2 pm and reheating your coffee mug in the microwave for the 3rd time today and your meetings are with the Pediatrician and the only big decision you’ve made centered around whether or not you felt up to making it to music class with your little one. You crave adult interaction but are concerned that you might not be able to complete a fully-formed sentence ever again that doesn’t involve a detailed description of your baby’s diaper contents.
Initially, that transition of working outside the home to working inside the home can be really tough, no matter which parent is doing it. But if you’d like to make this easier for all of you, make sure your partner also reads this post – especially the next line.
All parents work, whether it is outside the home, or inside the home.
Let’s just stop having this worn-out debate. Once a baby is on the scene, anyone who is doing one or the other, or even both, gets it – no one is just sitting around. Every single parent you know is working – hard.
But in our society, we sometimes think that the work that has no paycheck attached to it also doesn’t have as much worth. This is one reason why it’s so important that for the person who is not the primary caregiver makes sure to acknowledge the one who is by calling out all the work that he or she is doing by caring for your baby.
The person who is at home with the baby, needs time and space to grow into this new role. They need to find their people, to create for themselves a new sense of identity and meaning in their work as primary caregiver.
But when they have your unbridled support, your affirmation that what they do from the minute they wake up until the minute they kiss your baby goodnight matters, that you recognize how much it is worth for your family – that transition is so much easier for them.
The only person who really has any clue about what you do in your role as parent, is your partner. It’s important that you each take the time to acknowledge and receive positive feedback as you transition into becoming a family.
And if you’re not partnered, than I ask you to share all of the hard work you’re doing as a single parent with your family and friends, so that they can acknowledge all that you are doing for your baby. All of us deserve to have a strong sense of self-worth about this work of parenting.
Parenting is often the hardest work we will ever do in our lives. But it can also be our very best work. As long as we feel that it has worth.
It doesn’t matter if you are the primary caregiver, if you work part-time or full-time outside the home – every parent is a working parent. Do you feel like your parenting has worth? Do you tell your partner often that you find worth in the way they care for your baby? What would finding worth in this job of parenting look like for you?