Common Questions From Real Parents

My partner and I work different shifts so we have more time with our children, but that also means we rarely see each other. How can we maintain a good relationship in this environment?

Don’t give up an intimate and one-on-one relationship with your partner, even if it means once in a while taking time off for just the two of you. A lot has been made recently about having dinner together as a family. But any meal will do, as long as you sit down, talk, share food, and simply spend time in each other’s company. So try to find a meal to have together on a regular basis. It might help to experiment with sleep schedules that allow for the most time together. Also, try to forge connections with other families in similar situations. Having multiple sources of encouragement and day-to-day support can take some of the pressure off the relationship between parenting partners.

How can I find child care I can trust?

Start by asking anyone and everyone for referrals. Cast your net as wide as it will go, including parents of older and grown children. Once you have some options, spend time observing each setting. If you aren’t welcome to do so, that’s a definite warning sign. Also take time to interview caregivers, asking the questions that are key for you. Finally, trust your gut. If something feels great or just not comfortable, you are probably right.

I’m a single parent, so I have to work to support my family. How can I find balance?

Start by looking for nontraditional care arrangements; flexible child care can give you more options with your time. Perhaps a friend who works a different shift would be willing to help. Or a neighbor who cares for her grandchildren might watch your kids for a small fee. Don’t be afraid to ask. Also, if finances are an issue, look into whether your community has any scholarship or other support programs that could help pay for your children’s care. Finally, if you are able, seek out employers that are known for flexibility and work-family friendliness. The Sloan Work and Family Research Network’s list of family-friendly employers is a great place to start.

My partner makes more money than I do and that makes me feel like I’m contributing less to our family, even though I spend more time at home with the kids and managing other family responsibilities. How can we deal with this?

If it’s important to you or your partner, make lists of what you each do so you are getting a realistic picture of your contributions. Talk about your concerns. Also, if work and financial contributions are important to you, consider whether arranging for some child care so you can work more would be good for your family.

Assessing Your Priorities: A Discussion Guide >