Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Babysitting or parenting?

So I came downstairs yesterday morning, dripping with sweat (and rather smelly actually, but that's probably tmi) after finishing a particularly boring but still knackering half-hour cycle on our Ebay purchased spinning bike. As usual I automatically thanked OH for watching DD while I was away. I'm lucky I suppose, every week I manage to get a spin session, manicure or whatever, some precious me-time to unwind and recharge, while he plays with DD and generally ensures she doesn't stick the nearest metal instrument into a socket or pour squash onto our new carpet.

And then I got to thinking.

OH doesn't thank me when he's had a couple of hours in front of the TV on Saturday afternoon while DD and I paint the kitchen floor masterpieces.
Or at dinnertime when I'm persuading DD to eat a mouthful of whatever I've put in front of her.
Or at bathtime when I'm chasing her round the house trying to get her clothes off.
Or at bedtime when I'm trying to ignore the new need a drink of water/need Bonjella/need new nappy delay tactics (impressive for a two year old I feel).
And I don't expect him to. That's just what I do. That's being Mummy.

We picked our roles traditionally when we became parents. I stay home and OH goes out to work. I'm totally fine with that, it works for us.

But raising a child is a joint responsibility regardless of the role that you play. I feel it's only polite to thank anyone for letting me have a little time out, but I'm left wondering... when a working partner babysits while the stay-at-home partner takes a break, is that babysitting or is that just, in fact, parenting?

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. emsyjo4 October 2011 09:52

    Such a good post, I do this all the time and it drives me nuts Hubby always says I shouldn't have to thank him but it feels wrong not to when I am thankful!  But then it annoys me that I never get thanked even though I know he appreciates what I do!

  2. Mother's Always Right4 October 2011 10:20

    I think it's just being a dad!

    One of my friends said he couldn't meet my husband for a drink the other night because he was "babysitting", when in fact he was just looking after his own son. For me, the term "babysitting" implies a temporary responsibility when being a parent is a full-time role, whether you work or not. You "babysit" someone else's child, you "look after" your own. It's just called being a parent. That's what I tell my husband anyway!

  3. 4 October 2011 14:28

    It's a tough one isn't it? I feel I should thank him, but I wonder whether my perspective is wrong.

  4. 4 October 2011 14:29

    This is a great definition of babysitting that I shall memorise and use from now on!

  5. Mum2babyinsomniac10 October 2011 14:08

    Hilarious! I always ask if my OH can 'babysit' but how can it be babysitting when it's his own child?! It is just parenting. Men just have it a lot easier, if I want to do anything, then I have to check with him first whereas he just makes plans all the time without asking me if I am free to 'babysit'! x

  6. 10 October 2011 20:11

    It's interesting isn't it, the way we perceive our roles as parents. Thanks for commenting :D

  7. Older Mum10 October 2011 20:42

    Spot on. It's parenting.  You shouldn't need to say thank you - it's OH's job to give you some much needed you time. 

  8. 10 October 2011 20:45

    Actually he does give me time, when I ask for it, I guess what I'm inspecting here is our respective roles and how I perceive mine... thanks for your supporting comment *grins* :D

  9. 10 October 2011 22:34

    I always say thanks to 'the dad' when he does things with them, which is ridiculous. He says I dont need to thank him and stop being so dumb, but I can't help it. Its something I do automatically. Weird.

  10. 11 October 2011 07:13

    From talking to others I think this is something that a lot of us do. It's interesting isn't it?

  11. Rightfromthestart11 October 2011 15:33

    I also came to this realisation recently, I have always seen the children as my responsibility .  This has menat that there were many things that I would like to do but can't because I don't have anyone to watch the kids.  My husband on the other hand can do as he likes, comforted by the fact that the kids are with me.  I recently had a revelation and thought the kids are actually our responsibility and I need a chance to do things for me too without feeling I am asking him to babysit.
    We have recently separated and now suddenly it all seems a bit more equal.

  12. 11 October 2011 21:27

    This post seems to have hit a chord with a lot of people. I'm sorry to hear that you have separated from your partner. Thanks so much for sharing your own perspective. 


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