Q: My husband and I are trying to decide who should take what nights to be up when the baby is up. Our son is 8 months old and I have gotten up with him all 8 months of his life. My husband has just recently decided to help. He wants to take Sun, Mon, Tues, and Wed nights and leave me with Thurs Fri and Sat nights. I would prefer for us to rotate nights and we can just switch who does the night shift every night. However, he's not going for this. If anyone else has any idea please let me know!!!
A: Your question reminds me of many, many similar arguments between Moms and Dads. Somehow everything gets disrupted by the strains and stresses of parenthood. It all was so much easier before! And I hear your annoyance at how you have already "taken all 8 months" of caring for your baby at night--but NOW that husband of yours decides to help! It's no wonder you don't feel much like being flexible about the schedule.
All the same, I would point out to you that your husband might also be feeling deprived and neglected and overworked--just as you do. He may be feeling like he too is drowning, and that being stubborn about which days he'll do the night shift is just about the only way he can find to preserve some sense of mastery over his own fate.
This argument is not really about the night shift. It is about being burnt out and angry and blaming the other guy. It is about feeling alone and that no one is listening. You and your husband have something in common: you both feel at the end of your rope.
My suggestion is that you accept his help, on the nights that he volunteers. Thank him for his help. Then, see if you can fix the atmosphere of exhaustion and resentment that you both are experiencing. You need to see that you and your husband are in a bad mood, and that the bad mood is the real problem--and work on generating some enthusiasm, morale, and team spirit. I'll bet that Dad will roll up his sleeves to do a lot more of the heavy lifting, if you give him some positive strokes.
Elizabeth Berger MD
Child Psychiatrist and author of "Raising Kids with Character"