Decisions, decisions, decisions. The ones you have to make prior to becoming a parent are wildly different than the array of ones you will now be faced with. My previous dilemmas were about where to brunch on Saturday and now it’s what teaching style do I want Parker to experience in preschool. Huh, there are different teaching styles? For these posts, know that co-parenting isn’t just a term used for those who are “consciously uncoupling”, but really one that exists to explain how you work together to raise your kids - married or not. Especially with your first, it’s not like either of you have any freaking clue what you’re doing anyways, so we went into it the best we could…. together. Go team!
I have probably touched on a few of our parenting styles in each of the previous posts a bit here and there, so it’s safe to say that we’re pretty equal in the responsibilities we take on as a mom and dad, but also have learned how to step in and lead and when to let the other take charge.
We never really went into parenting with a specific ‘style’ in mind. In the beginning, it was just helping find ways for Eric to be as involved as he wanted since he couldn’t take on the nursing responsibilities….. which, as we all know, takes up about 95% of their daily lives for the first few months. In those days, we agreed that he would prep her for feedings (change diaper, etc) and then swaddle and help soothe her back to sleep.
Then things just evolved from there through communication, circumstances we found ourselves in and what we see for our family long term. These days, there’s no co-parenting formula for us, but we have assumed certain roles. For example, Eric’s schedule is more chaotic and up in the air, so I try to stay pretty consistent in my days and know that I will need to be the one that gets home first so our nanny can leave. Or when Parker knows that when daddy gets home, it’s her chance to rough house and be thrown in the air and build forts and knock things over. When I’m around, it’s more snuggles and reading books and chill time. Those are just easy broad examples!
A few things I think are good talking points if you are looking to figure out your co-parenting styles or want to open up the chat with your man (or woman) about what that will look like ::
What Are Your Strengths?: I can cook a mean bowl of zucchini noodles, but not really anything else. Eric is great at planning and helping execute family dinners. I will offer to pick up the groceries on the way home and help prep the food. He prefers washing dishes to overseeing bathtime, so we divide and conquer. I am really strong at researching the crap out of baby gear and Eric prefers to never have to do that! It helps when we are both operating in our natural strengths. Sure, sometimes I have to cook when he’s out of town and he has to give me an opinion on a new stroller, but you get the idea.
Learn From Each Other: Every day I have parenting successes and failures. Sometimes massive failures. I want to pretend they never happened and count my lucky stars that Parker won’t likely remember or tattle on me….thus far. Especially in the disciplinary department. Golly, that is when real parenting starts. But we always share our wins and loses with each other in hopes of jointly being better parents and handling situations in the best way we can.
Be United in Decisions: Family and friends may not always agree with your on your choices, but as long as the two of you stand united in the decision you’ve made, than that’s all the matters. You gotta know you have each other’s back in this!
Communication: It’s like beating a dead horse with this one. We all know it’s what helps make all situations better, yet, it’s the first thing that usually causes a rift between you and your spouse. I pretty much forget every day that Eric isn’t a mind reader. Why doesn’t he know everything I’m thinking at all times?
What Does Five, Ten or Fifteen Years From Now Look Like?: Most of the decisions we’ve made about how we want to parent, what we want in life for our children, how we see the daily things being - all came from first deciding what we wanted our lives to look like in five years and working backwards. Obviously, this is all best case scenario and if the world works out perfectly, but it does allow us to be on the same page when certain decisions come up.
As with anything that has to do with parenting, there is no one way or right way or only way. You and your main squeeze will need to see what works best for y’all. Everyone’s relationships, expectations and dynamics are unique. In the end, everything you do is for the greater good of your child, their life, their development and your family. If you keep that in mind, you will find your co-parenting groove to be a lot easier!
What does co-parenting look like in your relationship? Do you have distinctive roles that are more traditional? I have friends whose husbands stay home with the kids and they go to work full-time or dad's who have never changed a diaper, but that's just what works for their family. So interesting to learn from everyone!
Side note: If you're reading this and you're a single mama, I have the utmost and ultimate respect for you! Seriously. Being a mom is a hard job - rewarding most days and ultimately soul sucking on others. Single mom's are the ultimate badass!
Be sure to check out and follow along with the other amazing mamas who are sharing their stories as part of this series. Also be sure to check out our previous topics: Travel, Feeding, Sleep, Relationships, Self Care, Work Balance and Play. Links below! #realmomseries