Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day shift for the whole family

So we are trying out this new thing this week at the Dorn household: My husband is working a new shift. He leaves for work in the morning, stays for 8 hours and then comes home in the afternoon.

     * The status quo for the past 4 years has been that he works some version of a night or very early morning shift. Most recently he worked a 10 hour shift that had him starting in the afternoon and coming home in the middle of the night. I would be sleeping when he got home, he would be sleeping when I left. We saw each other rarely and communicated mostly on the weekends. 

So far the new schedule is working out well. It is a little bizarre. I am accustomed to being alone with my daughter all evening. I pick her up from day care immediately after work and it's just the two of us until bedtime. Often we meet Daddy for dinner or he comes home but he only has 30 minutes (including driving time).

This week he picked her up from day care before I left work. Then we spent time together and ate when we felt like it. It is strange not to be anchored by a 7:30 mealtime (plus drive time) and strange to have eaten and cleaned up by 6:30. Now what do we do?

It is also amazing what a relief it is to have a second person home. This week events have conspired to keep me late at school, grading or working until just before I left campus. It was a relief that my daughter wasn't sitting at day care all day (since she arrived earlier in the morning because I now take her before class). It was also a relief to come home Tuesday and have a chance to drop my stuff and rest for a moment before going back to meet them. (They were in the back, swinging and working on the truck.)

Today we all went to the grocery store. It was strange: the grocery store. with another adult. not trying to carry the child and push the cart (she says she wants to walk, then ends up climbing up my legs). Today she rode on Daddy's shoulders. When we got home, she went in with Daddy and one load of groceries and I brought a second load in.

Here's what usually happens at this point: I unbuckle the girl from the car. I help her down. (She usually tries to give me something else to carry.) I take a load of groceries up to the porch and unlock the door. I get another load of groceries and try to cajole my daughter into bringing in a small bag or other container. Instead she asks to watch Dora. I bring all the groceries to the kitchen and start to put them away. She asks to watch Dora. She asks again to watch Dora. She asks to watch Dora. I tell her I am putting the groceries away. She asks to watch Dora. I suggest she might help with the groceries. She asks to watch Dora. She wears me down. I turn on Dora and then feel guilty that I'm using the TV as a babysitter. I put away the groceries.

Today, because I had help, I had more energy to put away the groceries (I didn't have to bring them all in and put them away). Then I had energy to cook while my daughter put away the sodas and set the table.

It's not like she never helps with the groceries and cooking and setting the table. She does. And she's a good helper. But today was nicer for both of us. First I talked to an adult (my husband, even better) about non work-related stuff. She got to tell Daddy all about her day and talk to him and play with him (and then do it all again when I got home). And the parenting things were divided and reinforced.

It isn't hard to say "No Dora right now" or "Do you need to go potty?" or whatever other parent things you have to say. It's just that alone you have to say them over and over and over again. It wears you down. But with two people splitting it, you get a break in between. And the kid hears it from two people.

So, I've decided: I like having a husband whom I see during the week.

It remains to be seen whether I will be able to work in the studio more because of his schedule change. This week has been busy at work and I have been staying late. But at home I've been much more relaxed and happy. That's a start.

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