Everything changes once you give birth to your first born.
Or so I’ve been told.
Your whole world perspective changes. You read headlines of lost kids and instead of taking it in as news, you worry if it will happen to yours. You hear stories of mothers and instead of judging, you feel sympathy. You go from someone confident in every decision you make, to someone who questions whether you are doing the right thing.
But all of that doesn’t compete with the change that happens in your relationship.
With your partner.
Sociologist, Janeen Baxter, studied 1,800 Australian parents on how each couple saw each other after the birth of their first baby.
Baxter says that the birth of the first child is pivotal in a relationship. She writes on Child and Family Blog, "The first birth is typically associated with deterioration in the quality of couple relationships".
More importantly, Baxter found that the views in each other's roles within the relationship did a complete one-eighty after the birth.
Before bub comes along, men and women generally see themselves as equals. Both typically earn money and both share household tasks pretty evenly (even though we know we stack the dishwasher more often).
But, once that bub comes along, things change.
Baxter says, "Both sexes changed their previous views to support more strongly the ideas that a woman’s main role is being a mother, that mothers should work only if they need the money, and that young children should not stay in childcare for prolonged periods of time."
But that is where the similarity in thinking ended.
Women believe, even more strongly than before the birth, that working women are just as good at looking after children as stay-at-home mums.
While new dads became set in very traditional views of women's roles. They believe that women, even women who work and provide income into the household, should be the ones to shoulder most of the housework and childcare duties. They also believe that working mums lose out on having the same kind of bond a stay-at-home mum has with their kids.
Is this because men today grew up with fathers that believed this way?
Is it because we are still trying to shake those traditional, outdated views out of our society?
Not really, says Baxter.
It seems that the structures that support parents are to blame.
Parental leave arrangements are more likely to focus on the mother as being the primary care giver.
If a child gets sick, it is often seen as more acceptable for mum to leave work than for dad.
Social networks are more about having a mothers group than having a fathers group.
School functions like Mother's Day and Father's Day tend to put Mother's Day celebration on during the day (like morning tea) assuming mums aren't at work, while Father's Day celebrations are at 7:30am (so dad can make it before he has to go off to work).
All these contribute to changing women's roles from equal, to being primarily being a mum and housekeeper.
Check out this hilarious ad on a dad's first day at home alone with the kid. Post continues after the video...
Baxter says that while her study focused on Australians, looking at data from other countries suggests that many Western countries were on the same page.
I spoke to a few of the mums in the office and many agreed that after the birth of their first born, they became the ones looking after the kids and house (even though housework was 50/50 before). Some said that they felt this was their "job" as they had taken off work to be a stay-at-home mum. However, once they returned to work, they still found they kept all of their housework and childcare load, despite contributing to the family income.
So let's just say that I am going to start cashing in on getting my husband to do all the housework until our first baby arrives in a few months. Just in case this happens to us too.
Did your partner's views on household chores change after the birth of your first born?