parents

Well, this is one way to make sure dad is doing chores around the home.

Here’s what I did this morning; Make breakfasts, put on load of washing, puree pumpkin for baby’s lunch, empty bins, make beds, wipe kitchen benches, check milk, pick toys up off the floor, dress baby, write list for my sister who is a babysitting, get dressed, pack bag, get on train.

Here’s what the other adult in our house did: Woke up. Had Shower. Left for work.

Looks kind of different, huh?

Would a contract make any difference to this scenario? Probably not.

But that’s what a woman called Rebecca Onion has suggested. A baby pre-nup.

Yes, a baby pre-nup, a contract between expectant parents that divvies up the tasks of parenthood between mum and dad. A way to ensure your partner does equal housework, equal late nights, equal time spent on nappy duty.

Does that sound a little bit tempting to any mothers out there?

Onion doesn’t want to be like her friends who have children. It’s not their children she objects to – she’s 36 and ready to start a family. It’s the fighting and feelings of resentment over the ‘unwieldy burden of domestic life/planning’ that her friends tell her comes with baby.

Writing in Slate magazine yesterday, Onion said her girlfriends’ consistent complaints about the lack of domestic equality post-baby is scaring her off falling pregnant. She’s contemplating making her husband sign a baby ‘pre-nup’ stipulating how they’ll divide up the domestic tasks once baby arrives.

Babies are small but they come with a serious list of requirements that you can’t really grasp or prepare for until they arrive. Plus, these needs change frequently. Daily life with a newborn is vastly different to a 10 month old’s routine when it’s Weetbix and fruit for breakfast and no night feeds (sometimes). So how can you plan for that?

Rebecca Onion.

Also, what happens when one of you break the contract? And what’s the punishment? Does the winner or the loser get stuck with the baby duties?

I admire Onion’s lateral thinking but I don’t think a ‘baby nup’ will help her. Life changes dramatically post baby and the old ways of doing things just don’t serve you as well.

In my experience the early days with a baby were all about survival.  Sleep deprivation makes even the simplest tasks seem difficult and the best laid plans bound to fail.

ADVERTISEMENT

Maybe it’s more realistic to focus on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example if you’re better at vacuuming (is that actually a skill?) and playing with the baby in the morning, then those tasks are for you. But if you’re more alert in the evening then bath and bedtime and getting up to resettle are probably going to work better for you.

Flexibility is vital.  Things change ALL the time. Accepting that is fundamental to your own sanity. But there will always be something (or several things) that get your goat.

My biggest bugbear has been about sleep and how unfair it has seemed at times that I am expected to just ‘get on with things’ despite feeling like absolute dirt.

Going without simple stuff can also get frustrating. When you’re at home with a baby eating lunch, going to the bathroom or just getting dressed properly is often shoved to the side. These are small and unexciting things but over time their absence can begin to make you feel like you never have any personal time.

Lucy Kippist and her bub.

That can be hard to explain rationally to the person who gets home from work, also exhausted and under the pump who is left feeling like you’ve just shoved the baby in their arms and ran out the door.

The only solution I’ve come up with is that you just need to cultivate a whole new level of acceptance for the way things are NOW. You won’t always be struggling for sleep or weighing up the importance of a clean floor over a 20 minute catnap or eating your lunch. (At least I hope not!!!)

With each new stage of development you seem to both gain and lose something. More sleep at night, but more time in the day to entertain a baby. No more bottles and breastfeeding but heaps more mess in the kitchen from eating solid food…

As a friend recently told me: having a baby is a bit like winning the lottery and losing a leg. You’re stoked to be rich, but gee things would be easier if you got your leg back!

At the end of the day, we are just humans helping other tiny little humans get along in the world. Are we really meant to be perfect at the same time?  Where’s the fun in that?

Would you consider something like a baby pre-nup? Do you think it sounds like a good way to ensure the childrearing duties get shared more equally? 

00:00 / ???