"He just couldn't settle her, so I had to leave the nail salon in the middle of getting my nails done to come home to them"
"Nobody can settle the baby as quickly as I can"
"He'll only go down for me"
"She'll only take the bottle for me"
"Ah it's just easier if I do it myself"
Question gorgeous girl - have you ever said any of the above sentences? I know I have! And I have heard ALL of these lines in my postnatal classes, on many occasions! Ah, us women are controlling...that's hard to admit, but so so true when it comes to our babies. I often talk about this in my classes, and it gets many a wry smile! Whether we know best or not, we gotta do something about this. I'll tell you why...because it will help us (and our relationships!) in the long run.
I'm a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO (Chief Operating Officer). I read her book "Lean in" over Christmas. Her ethos is that women need to be more empowered at work, if that is their chosen route. Much of the book deals with women’s progress in the working environment, and why they have not achieved as many high-level, leadership roles, as their male counterparts. In essence, Sheryl looks at ways of empowering women to ‘reach their full potential’. However, she explains, in order for women to 'Lean In' more in their careers, she makes a great point that men also need to be empowered more at home. In her words:
"I have seen so many women inadvertently discourage their husbands from doing their share by being too controlling or critical. Social scientists call this "maternal gatekeeping", which is a fancy term for "Ohmigod, that's not the way you do it! Just move aside and let me!"
Women are often guilty of feeling like 'mother knows best'...and even if you truly believe that to be true, by empowering your other half to get more involved with baby, children, housework etc, you gotta empower him to do it for himself...in HIS way. If you want your partner to be a true partner, you must treat him as an "equally capable partner". Sheryl says:
"Whenever a woman asks me for advice on coparenting with a husband, I tell her to let him put the diaper on the baby any way he wants as long as he's doing it by himself. ...even if he puts that diaper on the baby's head. Over time, if he does things his way, he'll find the correct end. But if he is forced to do things her way, pretty soon she'll be doing them herself".
I couldn't agree more. The temptation to lean over your partner and 'fix' what he's doing is immense - whether that's the nappy, the bottle, the way he is burping, rocking or dressing the baby, just bite your lip, leave him and walk away! He'll be chuffed he's making a difference, he's attending to the needs of his baby, and therefore, will be more likely to do it again in the future.
I know it's easy to say all this and very hard to do, particularly if baby is getting fussy or crying. But in the long run, it will be better for all - dad will be able to settle or feed or change baby, which enables mama to do something else like sleep, like exercise, like go out and meet her friends.
By creating this equal partnership, you will be able to do more for yourself, which can only be a good thing all round! I'll never forget a story one of my really good friends told me. On her first baby, she went away with a group of friends to a hen do. Her baby was about 6 weeks old. She left her husband with all he required to take care of the baby for the weekend. When she came back, he was so apologetic that he didn't manage to get all the housework done, and all the cooking, as looking after baby took up so much time! It was the best thing she ever did! She empowered him to look after his child, the house, the food etc. And he learned a lot from this experience, but also really enjoyed it. Win Win, I'd say!
The next time you are tempted to step in when dad is in the middle of doing his thing, just pause. He'll never get there if you keep interrupting. Allow him to do it his way, therefore eventually creating long-term harmony and equality in your own relationship.
So, now that your other half is looking after your little ones, you are free to spend some time on you! If you haven't seen my online programs available to join at any time, take a look here:
Have a great day lovely, thanks for reading,
Helen Plass is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, and Yoga Instructor, working with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, birth and Motherhood. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood.