Starting a few weeks back, K. has been taking the morning shift with Anya. She normally wakes up around 6.00 (sometimes 7.00) ready to play. I do the night shift. I nurse Anya each time she wakes at night almost never involving K in night time parenting – in fact I think the last time he woke up to help care for Anya in the middle of the night was months and months ago (when she occasionally needed changing at night). Nowadays she mostly wakes for feeding and comfort and I can easily fulfill those needs without waking daddy. After all, daddy works and I don’t, plus as I often say ‘no boobies, no help’!
About three weeks ago we hit upon the idea of K taking the morning shift. So, K takes Anya from when she wakes up around 6.00ish. It takes him a while to wake up, mind you – I think something in the mommy hormones helps us snap to attention to serve the needs of our child much faster than guys do. I certainly wasn’t a fast waker before I had a baby! So he takes her at dawn and though I wake up when she wakes up, I get to go back to sleep for another hour or two. I love sleep and seeing as I haven’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep for over six months now, I am really grateful for that extra time! Then K brings her back for her morning nap, usually one and a half or two hours later.
This has turned out to be one of the best things we have done, in my opinion. Okay, I am biased as the benefits for me are tremendous, but as I see it this is a win-win-win. I get to sleep, Anya gets fun play time and K gets precious bonding time at a time when our beautiful baby girl is actually awake, happy and playful (as opposed to, during the week, seeing her only in the evenings, just before bedtime when she is tired and often cranky). I really feel both of them blossoming in their relationship as it is nurtured through this special time together. They usually play for a while, maybe read a book together, sometimes they hang out (he does work, she plays with her toys) and always, always they go for a walk. How nice.
Then Anya returns to me in bed, where I nurse her back to sleep after a fun, tiring time with daddy.
For us this works well, on a practical level, because K is an early bird by inclination whereas I am a natural night owl, so this pattern is also playing to our natural day-rhythms. As ever, it is important to do what works for you, but for us, so far, we are enjoying exploring this new division of labour.
It is not set is stone, either, if I wake with Anya and find myself very awake (and K very asleep) or if K is especially tired and needs a morning off, we switch for the day. We are going with the flow and discovering and re-discovering how we move, now, as a family of three.