Category Archives: Work

Q&A: fear of baby preferring dad over mom

Gah! Technology problems!

Anonymous writes:

"I am the mom of an 8-month old boy. I work full-time, and my husband ismostly a stay-at-home dad. Our situation is pretty great, although I
wish I worked 3 or 4 days a week instead of 5, but that's life, right?
The thing that has come up since I returned to work though is that I've
become surprisingly insecure about whether my son is more attached to
his dad than to me. I hate feeling this insecure and emotionally needy
with my own child and it isn't good for any of us, but I can't help
feeling really afraid that he will be way more into daddy than me. I
know toddlers often go through phases of strongly preferring one parent
over the other, and I'm worried that it's going to be his dad and I
will have a really hard time not taking that personally. I would love
to hear from working moms with stay-at-home husbands who either (a)
feel that their child is very strongly attached to them and can
reassure me a little, or (b) have been through their kid being more
attached to dad but got through it okay. If I'm really honest with
myself, I want more of the reassurance that our situation can still
lead to a very close mother-son bond, but I would like to hear both
perspectives."

I know you know you can have a close relationship with your son. You know he loves you, that he knows you're his mom, and that he's always going to know that.

I know you know plenty of families that have SAH moms and WOH dads in which the kids are very close to their dads.

So it's not about whether you can form a close relationship. It's about your fear of how you're going to handle the different emotional stages your baby goes through if you're not there all day long with him. This is an issue not about your son and his bond with you or your partner, but about your conflict with not being at home with him more.

So that's what you have to work on. Because the readers and I can give you hundreds of data points proving that it's possible (even easy!) to have a great relationship with your kids while working fulltime (and think about all those adults who talk about how close they are to mothers who worked three jobs to feed them and were hardly ever home, so it's clearly not just about facetime), but until you come to terms with how much you're home and how much you're not, you're not going to be able to accept it in your heart.

It makes me hurt for you that this is turning into such an anxiety point for you. I feel like I was lucky when I went back fulltime–it was the only way I could get a divorce, so I knew I had no choice (since divorce was the only way for me to get my kids out of the middle of our toxicity). It doens't sound like you have come to terms with it, though. Is it possible that you feel like there's something different that you could be doing? If there is, you might want to explore whether that's a possibility so you know you've maximized your options.

I don't think it hurts most kids to be apart from their parents all day while their parents are at work. I do think it hurts some parents, though. So you owe it to yourself to figure out a way to be OK (or as OK as you can be) with your home/not home ratio or else there's always going to be some worry point for you.

Any advice or sympathy for Anon? Any reassurance that her son will have a good relationship with her? And ideas for helping make WOH easier on her emotionally?

Q&A: Work scheduling for freelancing couple?

At the Twin Cities meet-up, Amy was wondering about scheduling. She's a SAH/WAHM who does freelancing, and her husband is a teacher. He's off for the summer, so they're both picking up extra work.

They went into it thinking it was going to be awesome–he spends time with the kids while she works, then she spends time with the kids while he works, they each get 20 hours of work done a week, it's more relaxed, the kids have so much parent time, etc. Then the first week was a disaster. Not an emotional disaster, just in terms of trying to actually get the work done. So there were good results there to modify the plan.

Amy also came up with some things she hadn't thought so much about but now realized were important, one of which was that she and her husband wanted only to work during the actual work day (for them that's 8-5).

So we were all talking through it (those of us here have a huge gamut of work schedule experience) and this is what we came up with:

1. Plan the week's work schedule in advance–who's working when. If possible, assign shifts: 8-noon, and 1-5. Vary shifts so no one gets stuck with the non-nap shift or the nap shift all the time.

2. Schedule non-work (meaning non-paid-work AND non-childcare) events the same way you do during the year, meaning use a babysitter if you need to go to the doctor or do some other errand you can't take the kids along for.

3. Keep clear in your mind that being in charge of kids is a job, and you can't double-book with your paid work. So don't even be tempted to do it, as it will only lead to confusion.

4. This kind of split schedule with a partner isn't going to work if you or your partner are averse to scheduling and sticking to a schedule when temptation is there.

I know there have to be couples out there who do fit their work around each other like this, whether they freelance, own their own businesses, are academics, etc. What do you think? Have you come up with good solutions?