Couple Who Don’t Get Parental Leave Plan How to Work With a Newborn
- I work 60 hours a week to make enough money to pay the bills.
- I’m currently eight months pregnant, and as a freelancer, I don’t get parental leave.
- My husband and I are setting a schedule that allows both of us to work while we have the baby at home.
When I thought about getting pregnant and having my first kid, I imagined my life would be in a different place than it is right now. I thought I’d own a house, be financially stable as a successful entrepreneur, and would be able to take time off from work for a few months, or even a year, to parent a newborn.
I’m currently eight months pregnant, and none of that has come true. Instead, I live in a 550-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, I’m an entrepreneur working 60 hours a week to earn enough income for my share of the bills, and neither my partner or I have any parental leave to lean on when the baby comes.
While this isn’t our ideal situation, it’s the reality that we’ve spent the past eight months trying to plan for. We both want to and must continue working after the baby is born. So to be able to earn our incomes and raise our newborn, here’s how we plan to equally split the duties of having a baby.
Setting a work schedule for the week
As a full-time entrepreneur, my schedule for the week ranges quite a bit. Some weeks I have dozens of phone calls, and other weeks I don’t have any and spend my hours on the computer. My husband, who has a full-time marketing job, has a more predictable weekly schedule.
To break up the work days as evenly as possible, we decided that every Sunday we’ll sit down and create a schedule for the week and include the weekends as days where one of us can work if needed. If I take Monday, Wednesday, and Friday off to watch the newborn, he’ll be in charge of the baby on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, so I can work.
On days when we can both squeeze in work, one of us will take the morning shift of caring for the baby, and the other person will take the afternoon shift.
Dividing up the hours of the day
One of the best tips that a friend of mine with three kids gave me is that she and her partner divide the off-work hours of the day to make them as equal as possible.
One of us plans to take care of the baby from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., while the other person sleeps, works, or uses the time for anything else that they want, and then the other person will take the post-work shift from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., while the other person uses those hours as they please.
Cutting up the day like that allows both of us to establish a routine and have the same amount of time off before or after work. Because we want to remain flexible, we also plan to try out a version of this where we create shorter shifts so that each person can take advantage of a morning and evening break.
When it comes to doing housework, my partner and I have a good system in place where we’re each responsible for our own set of chores and tasks, based on what we enjoy doing or are better at. I spearhead Sunday afternoon apartment cleaning and lunch preparation for the week. My partner is in charge of laundry and dinner preparation for the week.
Since each of us knows what’s on our to-do list, we can take ownership of getting the housework done, without arguments or the feeling that one person is doing more than the other.
We plan to do the same with a newborn. Once the baby arrives and we can determine how to split the tasks evenly, we will create a list of who is in charge of what (bathing, feeding, diaper changes, etc.).
It’s important to note that while each person knows what they’re in charge of, the other person often steps in and helps when needed or when they have spare time.
Hiring temporary help
In order to stay realistic about the time commitment, endless number of tasks, and sleep deprivation that will come with having a newborn, we’ve also set aside a budget, to which we’ve both contributed equally, to hire temporary help.
While the cost of a night nurse or a postpartum doula can be expensive, we’ve saved up money to be able to afford this two or three times a month and plan to lean into this help during times when both of our work schedules conflict with one another, or we simply need a break.
Jen Glantz is the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire, a nonfiction author, and the creator of Scared to Be a Mom and The Monday Pick-Me-Up newsletter. Follow her adventures on Instagram: @jenglantz
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