Working with the Kid Shift to Get your Me Time
How do you manage time in your relationship?
There are so many ways to think of time and so many ways to organize all the tasks that need to be done.
In our house, we both often work nights or weekends or weird hours. So kid coverage is always on our minds. We've been wrestling with how to create systems that enable us to both try to schedule our evening work on consistent nights, to take time out together and time out solo and make sure that we both have time with the kids.
A tall order, I know.
We started last week with this notion of "you take Tuesdays and I'll take Wednesdays" as the night to work/ sleep/ go out with friends.
Great system right? You get your night and I get mine.
Oh - best-laid plans.
This, my friends, is where clarity comes in. The devil is in the details.
What does it mean exactly for you to "take Wednesdays"?
Are you gone the whole night - like don't come back after work and we see you at 11 pm? or Do you come home and do dinner and then head out.
So - needless to say, we hadn't been that clear about it. And needless to say, some frustration arose.
And while reflecting on what happened, I started to realize that maybe we were thinking about it all wrong. Maybe it's not about which days or nights are off, but rather about creating a balance between the kid shifts.
Let me explain.
I have noticed that in our house there are certain kid-heavy shifts.
- There's the am shift - wake everyone up, make lunches and get em to school.
- There's the after school shift - pick everyone up and play and maybe make dinner.
- There's the dinner to baby's bedtime shift - eat, do homework, get the baby to bed.
- There's the big one's bed time shift - finish evening activities, bath, snack, bedtime.
- There's the get-up and love up the baby in the middle of the night shift.
Now - some shifts are harder than others to do alone. Generally, the morning shift is a half-half kind of thing - and dinner is also chaos.
So in order to give each other a break, to support each other in taking time out while not totally overwhelming or leaving the other in the lurch - what if we were conscious of scheduling around the kid shifts. What if a few basic kid shift guidelines could bring a little clarity to chaos.
So my draft guidelines are as follows:
1) Other than in special circumstances like travel or special events neither one of us should have to do more than 2 shifts in a row without support. That means if I do the morning shift and get the kids to school AND I pick them up after school, I am either not alone for dinner or I get to leave during dinner. Or if you stayed up all night with the baby, then I am on morning duty.
2) Where possible the dinner shift should be done together and evening plans should be scheduled after 7 pm.
3) Best laid plans are great - but always, always communicate the day-of and in the moment about your needs and your limits. Honour each others limits as best you can and use outside help to make sure everyone is getting what they need. Cause, you know, sometimes someone is up puking all night, and all night puking fatigue does not care about your me time plans.
So I'm gonna start experimenting with this notion and see how this works.
Now I do want to note this approach is for our house where we both work (him full time) me mostly full time as I chose to work a bit less to stay home with the baby and do after school pick-up. Balance and fairness is a value we both hold and we are both working really hard to make space for each other's rest, passions and projects.
Regardless of your family makeup and agreements, I'd love to hear how you work with kid shifts in your house. How do you make space for each other and time to be alone together too?
I’ll let you know how my experimental guidelines go.
Tata for now.
The Happy V