It was probably around one month exactly after bringing our daughter Savannah home from the hospital when Alex and I had “the talk” about the scoreboard and how badly I was getting crushed in terms of helping out with the house, me time, and sleep. I remember when we started the conversation that I really did not see things her way. I honestly thought we had been doing things equally, but Alex was able to convince me otherwise. It was a little shocking to me because I have never wanted to do less than half and I sort of had a little pride in that I saw myself as somewhat of a super present and helpful Dad. And I think Alex would say that I was, but that I still was not doing half just yet. And that is okay. We had only been parents for a month, and no one really teaches you how to parent. There is no rule book. We know we are really fortunate to have each other, to have jobs during this crazy COVID time, and to have two truly amazing families that want to be a big part of Savannah’s life. Since we are lucky enough not to have to worry about some actual real problems, we can talk about a few fun lighthearted parent arguments.
When I was preparing to write blog post, I was doing some research on the topic and I across several arguments other couples were having which gave me some perspective. Alex and I do not actually argue over a lot of topics that other couples do. Which somewhat makes sense because we did not actually have that many arguments before Savannah was born anyway. Nothing against those couples that have drag out fights all the time, haha! They are filled with passion! I guess… Maybe it is because Alex knows I can be a little stubborn and Alex always decided it was not worth it or something… who knows? There is also the “Why Aren’t We Having Sex” topic that popped up a lot on the other blog posts. That argument typically goes into mom dealing with postpartum and lots of hormones, plus sex is not on the top of either parent’s priority list because baby is exhausting! I decided to leave that off my list because postpartum and mommy hormones thoughts and feelings should come from Alex’s perspective. If she wants to share on that subject than I will leave that to her.
So here are my top 5 arguments for first time parents in no particular order!
Whose Sleep is More Important
I am a heavy sleeper (which I love) and Alex has come up with this not so awesome way of letting me know when it is my turn to get up with Savy. She taps me with two fingers right on my temple over and over again until I wake up! Not in a gentle way either. She says, “Savy’s awake and it’s YOUR turn!”
Honestly, the lack of sleep phase is nearly past us at this point. Savannah is 5 ½ months old and she sleeps through the night for the most part. She will wake up to eat one or twice and Alex gets up to feed her. Alex says the feedings last 5-10 minutes and then she is back asleep and it’s really no big deal. I try to help by taking the morning shift and getting up with Savannah every morning when she is up for good and we hang out while I am getting ready for the day and sometimes she even hangs out with me while I am working from home until Alex gets up. That way she can get some extra Zzzs in the morning.
Back during those first few months is another story. There was a three or four week stretch where we were getting two hours a night if we were lucky. We turned into actual zombies and I swear we started going into survival mode. We stopped being generous and scrapping for any sleep available. I would try to sleep while Alex was breastfeeding, even if it was just going to be 20 minutes and Alex wouldn’t let me for some reason. It wasn’t fair, I guess. I remember my eyes never really opened all the way and my body was in constant pain. Alex started to walk with sort of a hunched back from always leaning forward to breastfeed. It really was scary.
We came up with a system of shifts. We traded back and forth a few times until we finally settled on Alex took 10pm – 2am and I took 2am – 6am. So, if Savannah was awake during your shift, you would get up with her and you could sleep a solid four hours during the other shift. For the most part it really did work. You had to actually sleep during your shift, or it was pointless. Sometimes Alex would be the one putting her to bed around 8 so then she was really taking a shift from 8pm – 2pm which she made sure to point out to me. Sometimes you are 15 minutes away from your shift ending and it only makes sense for your partner to get up, but they are stubborn and still don’t’. So, it’s not a perfect solution but for the most part, it really did help us!
Keeping score is really a bad idea and yet when one person has the nerve to lay out all of the things they do to let you know you aren’t doing enough, you almost certainly are going to rattle off all of the things you do. Alex gets the credit for being the first to rattle off her scorecard to me! However, as I mentioned previously, she was able to convince me that I needed to do more.
Breastfeeding to me is really the key differentiator because in those first few weeks, mom is breastfeeding every couple of hours or sometimes every thirty minutes. I was feeding her a bottle during my night shifts, but that was only once a day and really not the point. The point is we all have a “to-do” list of things we want to get done every day. We check off the boxes and take breaks when we see fit. Breastfeeding replaces those breaktimes and also interrupts you when you are in the middle of something and steals all of your sleep. So, Alex probably felt like she could never catch up. I was going through a lot as well and not getting enough sleep, but I essentially did get a break during feedings which is a huge advantage.
I have written a few blog posts and how dads can help moms which you can find by clicking on my page on Alex’s blog. If you are fighting over who does more around the house or who does more for your child, I really encourage you to ask yourself if you could do more instead. I know I was doing a lot already and then I realized that I still had time to breathe and Alex did not.
Who’s Turn It Is For Me Time
Me time is a cherished thing in my house. I have way too many projects that I like to work on, and Alex simply loves to relax. Sometimes you just want to get away from all of the stress of your life and be alone for a moment. On top of being first time parents, COVID has changed our lives dramatically as well. Alex is currently a SAHM and I am working from home. At this point we are okay with visiting our family, but otherwise we do not take Savannah out that much to be on the safe side. So we are alone together all-the-time. Which is really amazing and neither of us would change it for anything, but the one thing that suffers a lot, is me time.
Having a newborn requires your attention in a very detail-oriented way. When you are watching her, for the most part, you are 100% focused on her. You cannot turn your eyes away. Alex also likes to say that I cannot multitask. I can, but not as good as she can I guess, haha. I remember back during those sleepless nights I would turn on a new show on Amazon Prime or whatever and half a season would go by and I had no clue what had happened. Reading with Savannah – extremely difficult – so you are not going to get very far very quickly. Writing with Savannah is mission impossible. So, all the little things that you do throughout your day when you get a minute to yourself go away. Me time becomes a commodity, like sleep, that you fight over.
Me time can also mean when you want to spend time with a friend or even get out of the house to work out for an hour. Something that requires your partner to be in charge of watching your little one without any help from you for a period of time. Let’s say I work all day, so Alex is watching Savannah all day. Then I leave to hang out with a friend at 6pm and come home at 10pm. Well that is a pretty long day for Alex to be on Savannah duty without any help. She probably did all of the house chores, made all the meals, and breastfed all day.
It helps to plan ahead. Don’t spring something like that on your partner. Let them know in advance and offer to help during a time your partner is usually watching your child so they can have some me time. It’s never going to be fair all the time but being considerate and thoughtful goes a long way.
You’re Doing That Wrong
Well here is one that is a little one-sided believe it or not! Alex has told me on occasion that I am doing something wrong. In fact, just last night she reminded me not to use my fingertips while washing Savannah’s hair during bath time because we do not want her hair to fall out! I did not think I was pushing too hard and then it was a little argument. We are really lucky that we both error on the side of being extremely gentle with her. I read a lot of blog posts where one person was too ruff with their child and neither of us could deal with it if the other did not handle her with complete care all the time. Still, this is a topic that parents argue about. You do not know what you do not know. So, every time a new thing comes up that a decision for your child has to be made, it is the first time you and your partner have ever discussed it. It can easily be an argument.
Alex prefers to do a lot of research (on her own and with the pediatrician) and see what the bloggers are saying. I tend to lean on intuition when making decisions on parenting. So, we have not always agreed on everything. We are a great time and we are trying to work together to come up with what we feel is right for Savannah. I have asked Alex to be nice when she is correcting me for the 10th time!
Division of Labor
Alex and I have very different beliefs on when something needs to be done and how frequently. I have three siblings and I believe I would be classified as the “clean” one. Not to say my siblings are not, but I have always liked things to be orderly and clean. Alex is on another level!
We have had to adapt in more ways than one. Savannah has a few food intolerances so we had to change what we eat, COVID, working from home, no longer sleeping, quarantine, 100% of the meals were made at home so our dishes and grocery shopping habits changed a lot, and Alex started seeing me all day-every day!
So, all our normal duties and household chores went through a whirlwind. A good example is we used to do our own laundry, but we recently moved to a house with a laundry shoot which we love but now our clothes get mixed together. I have shrunk one too many of Alex’s favorite shirts and now I am not allowed to do laundry! She does the laundry now which only adds to her list.
We came together and for the most part figured out who is going to do what and how often. It helps to just communicate and simply picking up after yourself. One area that I can give Alex a hard time about is putting her dishes away right after eating. Instead of letting them build up, I like to just clean my dish right after using it and she does not. I am okay with it though, finally something I can argue with!
In the end, being considerate of your spouse and trying to help out goes a long way!