Parenting can sometimes feel like a lonely battle. You could be up late while your partner is asleep or maybe you feel like you’re having to pick up the housework more whilst having a baby attached to you. Feeling like a single-parent when you’re in a two-parent household can feel defeating and is often the case when you feel as though your partner isn’t supporting you the best they can. But before you write them off as being lazy, inconsiderate or a bad parent, consider the ways you can help them understand what you need from them and how to help them get more involved.
Help them feel involved
A newborn can be more attached to their mother than their other parent, which can leave the other parent feeling useless and uninvolved. If you can breastfeed, let your partner in the room so they too can bond with the baby, or if you feed your baby formula let your partner have equal opportunities to feed them. Allowing your partner to be more involved will help to get them to do more to help you. Your partner may feel left out, to counter this, try and include them whenever you can so that you both can be equally involved parents for your child.
If your partner’s primary issue is being unmotivated or uninvolved in the day-to-day running of the household, consider making a schedule that works for you both. Curating lists that specify exactly what you want them to do and what your own responsibilities are can help you work together.
Help them understand what you do
The reality is partners will probably never fully understand all the things you do, day in and day out unless they take on the role of primary caregiver. So if you feel like your partner isn’t appreciating what you are doing, consider outlining it to them a little more clearly or making a list of what you both do around the house and each day and discussing if the balance seems fair. This might help to open their eyes and jump-start their process of being a more involved parent when they see it in black and white.
Be sure not to criticise the way they have done things, while they may not have cleaned up the way you do, give them credit and appreciation for completing a job. It can be a good idea to create an area where they are solely in charge of, e.g. if your partner loves to garden or cook – hand over those responsibilities to them. This gives you breathing space and gets them to help out more.
Communication is key
Communication is at the forefront of tackling this issue; your partner isn’t a mindreader and won’t be able to tell when you feel like they’re lacking in picking up the slack. Communicating your hurt can give them an opportunity to explain why they haven’t been involved. Perhaps they felt excluded and didn’t know how to help you. These are important conversations to have and to continue to have while you parent your child. Try and not let your anger speak for you, instead, opt for stating how specific actions make you feel rather than what they’ve done, this way you can avoid them feeling attacked.
Divvy up responsibility
Giving responsibility to your partner when you’re not around further allows them to develop their bond with the baby and will give them a push to help out more. Remember that everyone is human, and there are reasons as to why your partner might not be helping out or involved. As long as you bring up these issues and communicate in an effective and constructive way, you both will be able to come up with a solution. Parenting is always hard and we’re all just figuring it out as we go, but you definitely shouldn’t have to do it alone!