My husband studies the economics of happiness, among a variety of other economic fields. I never forgot one thing he shared with me years ago — that the first year a couple has a baby is often the least happy year of a couple’s marriage. Sad, but I can see how that can be the case. Because babies require so much care, couples are often exhausted, and they often feel like the other partner isn’t doing his or her fair share. But what is a “fair share” when one partner is employed full time and the other isn’t? What is a “fair share” in the evenings and at night when both partners are home?
Seven weeks ago I gave birth to my third baby, and my husband and I have had to once again navigate baby care. Since I’m not employed right now, I do the majority of child care during the day while my husband is at work. During evenings and nights however, we often split child care duties. With our other children, our typical routine with the newborn was to go in shifts. For example, he was responsible for the baby from 11pm to 3am, and I was responsible for the baby from 3am to 7am. While we were on shift, we slept downstairs on the couch with the baby in a bassinet so that the crying baby wouldn’t disturb the other person. My newest baby is so angelic, however, that he already sleeps for 6 or 7 hours at night, so we haven’t had to do the shift method very often.
My husband and I felt like the shift method was a pretty fair way to approach nighttime baby care. But I know other couples do it differently for a variety of reasons. If you have had children, how did you navigate nighttime baby care? Did you think it was fair to both partners? If you have not had children, what do you think would be the best way to approach this?