Getting on the same page now will alleviate a lot of problems down the road
By Melissa Stefanec
There are a lot of things couples should discuss before they have kids.
When parents don’t agree on big parenting decisions, it can really damage their relationships (and the children involved). Partners should make sure they are on the same page before they tackle such a grand undertaking.
If you are thinking of having kids, there are plenty of resources available on this topic. A simple internet search will return a wealth of articles and parenting books.
These resources will likely suggest discussing things like spiritual upbringing, reactions to sexual orientation, physical discipline, cry-it-out versus intervention, vaccines, and saving for college. Other articles might suggest discussing how gender roles and responsibilities will affect who does what as a parent. There is a lot of important ground to cover.
If you are looking for the best advice on these crucial topics, skip this article. However, if you need a break from all the serious conversations facing would-be parents, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve got some solid, unscripted advice for all of you non-parents who are about to change your lives.
1. It’s 2 a.m. and there’s vomit everywhere. Who sees to the kid and who starts the cleanup?
This may sound like an obvious choice, but it’s not that simple. The person who takes on the existing mess knows what they are getting into. The person who takes the kid may be on easy street or may be dealing with poltergeist-style vomiting. No one gets out of this clean. Make sure you and your partner can handle that.
2. Whose responsibility is it to do the grocery shopping?
You may be thinking, “who wants to be stuck grocery shopping?” But, after kids, solo grocery shopping is akin to a small vacation. When you are looking for personal time, nothing beats wandering around and looking for grilled artichoke hearts while knowing no one but the general public can bother you. You might as well find out if your partner wants to hog all the shopping getaways upfront.
3. When you break away and get time alone or grown-up time with friends, do you have to respond to non-emergency kid inquiries?
Talk to your partner about expectations regarding get-aways. Will you be completely out of contact for everything but emergencies involving blood or bodily harm? Or, do you expect each other to be ready to field inquiries like, “Do we have more ketchup?” or “I can’t find Princess Snuggle Kitty.” Talk through expectations, so no one feels abandoned.
4. When your kids don’t clear their plates, who plays cleanup crew and puts on another “parenting 15?”
Most non-parents don’t understand how important this is. They don’t want to think about eating three semi-intact stegosaurus chicken nuggets and green beans that have touched barbecue sauce for dinner. Then, reality sets in, and you are faced with throwing away your paycheck or taking one for the team. Which of you will take all that breading weight?
5. When the folder comes home from school with no fewer than 42 pieces of paper, whose job is it to find the paper that needs to be signed and returned immediately?
Such work falls into the “unseen work” category and there sure is a lot of it. Talk to your partner about equal division of homework review, app-monitoring and paper-bulletin administration. If you’re not careful, you will miss pajama day and the book fair in the same week and your child will be looking for answers.
6. Who is going to forgo their favorite pizza topping for the next 20 years to make room for plain cheese and pepperoni?
I’ve come to close to asking pizza parlors to split pizza toppings three ways on a pizza. Then, I remember “split” doesn’t fit nicely into any of those sections of the food pyramid. So, I almost never have banana peppers on my pizza. My husband doesn’t see many slices with a garlic base. This is parenting life.
7. Should your child be allowed to wear pajamas or costumes to public places?
Talk to your partner about whether or not it’s OK to bring a ninja or dragon grocery shopping. Are you going to try to hold onto some shred of dignity in parenthood? It’s better to be on the same page about such things before it’s too late.
8. Who is going to teach the grandparents how to get the new-fangled car seats into their cars?
You know when you were a kid and your parents had to wipe your backside and stay up until 2 a.m. assembling He-Man’s fortress for your birthday? Well, it’s payback time. Talk to your partner about who is going to be tablet tech support and car seat installer for Grandma and Grandpa. You or your partner is going to have fill this role and fill it patiently or that free babysitting isn’t going to happen often.
So, if you are thinking about having kids, talk to your partner about the items on this list. Life is too short and beautiful to be spiteful about forgoing the delicious tang of a banana pepper on a hot slice of pizza.