Expat Dad is back: and he’s sleepy

Writing about parenting is the same as many, or even all activities done by man: it’s best done with two hands.

Having two hands is often taken for granted by most people. Those able to truly appreciate this natural gift are people who have only one hand, and also parents of babies.

People without a baby don’t realise many a wonderful thing about life. As you are reading this, is a very small person insisting that you hold him or her – yet when held, struggling to be free and in the process head-butting you with each swing from shoulder to shoulder?

Not being head-butted is excellent.

Not having a sore body is also quite lovely.

Sleeping? Just Paradise.

Not sleeping well, carrying around a large weight and performing most household tasks either one-handed or with a foot are some of the things that do not get recorded either on Facebook or at physical parent gatherings.

Instead, the little buggers are needlessly fussed over and incorrectly praised.

Not listening to what the other parents are saying about their own children, parents will still go ahead and sing away at the congratulations that their baby apparently deserves for smiling, and breathing.

This simple-minded celebration is amplified in this culture, as all family members literally scream in delight at any practical task performed by their offspring. Being able to wave goodbye at age 3, for example, seems to be a previously unheard of skill, something sufficiently fantastic to send family members into a smug rapture of convinced glee.

But this is not about local non-parenting, it’s more about realising the difficulties of being at home with a child – not for non-parents, but for the parent who is at work!

This is not my situation, but I’ve heard about it plenty.

One parent is at home looking after the child.

The other is at work.

Then the one going out to work comes home, with the other expecting a small break, before eventual balanced share of parenting takes over. Meaning that if you have been with a difficult baby all day, you rather want to not see it, and for the newly-arrived adult to take over for a bit.

However, this is when I have heard about the working one to say things like “But I’m tired too – I’ve been working all day! ”

And at this point, the stay at home parent proceeds to rip their partner’s face off.

Work can be tiring. But generally speaking, you need to do things like deal with adults, type onto computers and have lunch and snack breaks, chat, use the toilets, these kinds of things. (Obviously if you work in a nursery then this is all irrelevant.)

There are more difficult things in the World, of course. But in the moment, nothing is as difficult or taxing as dealing with a difficult baby – and even the best baby in the World will have his or her moments.

So if you are that working parent, be good enough to agree a time – even an hour or so – that will be ‘your turn’ when you step in the door. Even this small agreement can make a big difference to your relationship and overall experience. And obviously you get the joy of spending time with your own baby, let’s not forget that!













Categories: Expat Life


Foreigner in Shanghai


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