How you parent your kiddos has a direct impact on what kinds of people they turn out to be. For their benefit, and for the overall sanity of your family, it's important that both parents share in the responsibility of child rearing. With your busy schedules -- work, carpooling, errands, repeat -- the challenges of shared parenting are many. The best way to divide and conquer is to have a solid parenting plan in place. Of course you will deviate from the plan, but at least you and your spouse will have a road map to parenting success.
1. Divide and Conquer
Decide with your spouse who will handle which child rearing responsibilities. According to HealthyChildren.org, "When both parents work, there is a potential for greater equality in the roles of husband and wife," but no matter what your family dynamic, you are both parents. Some ideas for splitting responsibilities -- maybe Daddy is in charge of bedtime and Mommy gets a break. Perhaps Daddy handles bath time and Mommy tucks in the clean cuties. On the weekends, try to give each other a break. Saturday, Mommy gets some "me time" while Daddy takes the kids to the park. Sunday, Daddy sleeps in and Mommy bakes muffins with the kiddos.
2. Be Sensitive to Each Others' Needs
Do your best to be in tune with your spouse's needs. If your wife hasn't been outside the home in days, she probably needs a break. Similarly, if your husband hasn't gotten to the gym all week, offer to take over for an hour or so. As HealthyChildren.org points out, "You should be leading a healthy personal life (including proper diet, exercise and sleep habits). Set aside time, however brief, for things you enjoy. Your children will thrive when your own emotional needs are being met. They do best when they are reared by parents who are in a harmonious relationship with each other."
3. Share Some Parenting Responsibilities
Some parenting responsibilities should be shared, such as discipline. Mommy can't always be the bad guy! The most important thing is to be on the same page with your spouse about what behavior is acceptable and what behavior isn't. So if, for example, your little one gets in trouble for jumping on the sofa when Mommy is around, but Daddy allows the couch to be a trampoline, you are sending mixed messages to your tot.
4. Communicate Frequently About Family Issues
The best way to stay on the same parenting page is to talk shop often. Brief each other on the day's highlights and challenges. If little Susie has figured out how to open the front door, make sure your spouse knows about it. Likewise, if little Johnny has mastered the art of using a fork, share this accomplishment with the parent who wasn't there for the milestone moment.
5. Be There Even If You Aren't
AskDrSears.com offers this top parenting tip: "Stay connected while apart." That applies to your kiddos and your partner. If you're away on a business trip, call home frequently. Video chat if possible. Staying connected while you're gone will mean that when you get home, there is no lapse in your parenting plan and you can slide back into your agreed-upon role.
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