The Parent Pact - Our Journey Through Parenthood Together
This grainy, busy little square of chaos is our first picture as a four. Both Chris and I have seen better hair days and neither Jonah nor Winter seem pretty happy being pinned down for as long as it took Granddad to take the shot on my phone, but I love it. It encapsulates those first few weeks of post-birth bliss. When I say 'bliss,' I actually mean bedlam; any previous routine goes out the window and you are at the mercy of your little bundle of squiggliness. I thought I would find it easier the second time round but actually, we were dealing with everything that a newborn throws at you AND baby number one, now a toddler, full of delightful unpredictability and surprises. This does sound hectic, and it really was... but it was also the most wonderful time of our lives as a family.
Now, 16 months on from this picture, I think we're doing alright. I have moments of panic and need reassurance but I know that everything is going to be alright, because Chris and I are a team. Parenting has always been hands on for both of us... never has it been 'that's your job,' but instead we have naturally found we have settled into different roles within parenting. I take the nights... always. Mainly because I have been the feeder and also Chris is absolutely useless without sleep and I seem to do alright. Chris is all round cheerleader, encouraging me and staying positive when I become overwhelmed... he is also an awesome cook and can whip up something delicious for me and the boys. We share nappies and bottom wiping (because who wants those jobs really?) and as Jonah has embraced the Terrible Twos and beyond, discipline is more 'Bad Cop/Bad Cop' because we don't want either of us to be seen as the bad guy... so when necessary, we both are!
I've been thinking about these things this week after Water Wipes asked me to join their 'Parent Pact,' campaign and consider what it really means to provide for your family. Chris and I are not the 'norm,' but we are rapidly becoming so. Chris is at home during the day with the boys and works around their schedule to renovate our home. I work Monday - Friday as a teacher in the more conventional 'Bread Winner,' role (even although we both earn money from what we do.) I find that society finds our lifestyle choice quite hard to digest because traditionally I would be the Mother that stayed at home whilst the Father went out to work, earned the money and 'provided,' for his family.
Due to societal thinking many parents believe that the main provider of the family is the working parent with 78.1% admitting the main provider in their family typically takes responsibility for the financial support of the family. Only a small 16.6% believe that both parents are the main provider in the first six months of their baby’s life This wasn't the case in our family and Water Wipes have conducted some research in attempt to change this way of thinking.
What does it mean to 'provide' and why does it seem to revolve around money? Surely financial provision (although essential) is only one aspect of parental support. Providing stability through creating a safe and happy environment requires love and care.
Have you ever considered that Fathers used to seriously miss out on the important stuff by having to be away from their family and not be present? Recent research by Water Wipes showed that a third of men find it hard to be away from their partner. These feelings can continue long after a couple has become a working family. Working Mamas get those pangs too... It breaks my heart sometimes when I leave home in the morning and leave my sleeping babes, or even worse, Jonah crying at the door begging me to stay.
Whoever goes out to work, it's really difficult, and there are still some who hold this societal expectation of the 50s and 60s. I have had comments made to me like ‘at least the house will be clean and the dinner will be on the table when you get home…’ which really grates me because this archaic stereotype of what it is like to be a stay at home 'wifey,' has been imposed on my husband. Like me when I’m at home alone with the boys, he struggles to even go to the toilet during the day, let alone do an Aggie and Kim on the house and knock up some food! When I get home, we’re a team again. We tidy, we cook, we wrestle those little scoundrels to sleep… and then we relax together.
In the UK, many positive cultural shifts have occurred and a new landscape of co-parenting has emerged within it. The terminology around ‘who provides’ for the family however, is still rooted in the past. The reality is, that ‘providing’ no long has the sole monetary meaning. Rather how we support, love and give one another space to venture into new activities, may it be work or childcare.
Due to societal thinking many parents believe that the main provider of the family is the working parent with 78.1% admitting the main provider in their family typically takes responsibility for the financial support of the family. Only a small 16.6% believe that both parents are the main provider in the first six months of their baby’s life.
As for Chris and I, I hope we provide stability in so many ways for our boys. It's not just about money, but time, love and attention, which we both prioritise wholeheartedly. Parenting has brought challenges and the need to be flexible in unpredictability but has also bonded us closer together and strengthened our love and family unit.
I have worked closely with Waterwipes to create this content. All musings are completely my own.