One of the most abrupt changes in life after becoming a parent is the fact that you can no longer just come and go as you please. All of a sudden there is this built in issue of “who has the kid?”
When I was on maternity leave, my husband knew that three days a week he had to arrive home promptly at 4pm so that I could make the 4:30 yoga class that had become part of my sanity as a new mom. It was never some big discussion. I mentioned I wanted to be able to regularly make the class and he then ensured it happened. If there were days he had a later meeting, he would let me know and I would either go to a later class or figure something else out.
I mentioned this to someone in one of my church groups and I will never forget her response. “Wow, that is so great that he lets you do that. How do you ensure that time for stuff like that stays fair between the two of you?”
How great that he lets me do that?
It was like not only was I a new mom. I was also a prisoner and my husband, the warden, was being extra generous when he let me out of the house.
Yes, I was overanalyzing this poor woman’s question. No, I did not say any of this out loud as I knew how negative it would come across.
Instead, I said something like, “yeah it’s great.” I also said I hadn’t yet thought about keeping things fair when it comes to getting out of the house sans kid.
But in that moment, I sat there looking at my new baby and thinking-
Do I need to start keeping score?
Every time I go to yoga or get my nails done, should I make some mental tally mark that my husband can then redeem when he wants to go golfing?
I went straight to the experts. My mom friends. It turned out some of my friends were doing this. Keeping an actual score between themselves and their husband to ensure any time solo out of the house was fair and square. One of them even had a chalkboard they used!
I was relieved when this never played out in our house. Almost eight years into parenting and my husband and I have never kept score. We have never fought about the topic. Don’t worry, we have other topics we prefer to argue about.
Like how to properly load a dishwasher.
To me, keeping score seems exhausting. It seems like a constant game to play that could only lead to more mom guilt if you have more points (or less, depending on how the score is kept). Mom, we don’t need any help when it comes to guilt – it comes in piles on its own!
If I want to grab drinks with friends or go shopping, I simply let my husband know, ideally ahead of time and I ensure it’s added to our shared Google Calendar. This tool will save you! That way we know what’s in the hopper for our schedule and who has the kids. The same goes if he makes plans. There is no drama and no discouraging the other. If there is an issue, we express it. Like when my husband was going to the gym right at bedtime and I finally asked him to go just 15 minutes later to ensure the kids were at least in their beds before he left.
Instead of looking at some tally sheet, he simply agreed and it was done.
Mom, I am a big believer in doing what works for your family. As with everything in parenting and marriage, there is no one-size-fits-all. Tallying things up works for some of my mom friends. Similar to my Google calendar, it’s a tool they use that is effective for their lives. If keeping score works for you, keep on! But if you feel like it would only cause stress and guilt, I am right there with you.
Do you keep score? We’d love to hear your thoughts!