Aka FAQ: What is the most important advice you have for first-time parents?
Answer: Divide parenting tasks ex-ante, with clear responsibilities.
Why: To avoid repeated discussions and quarrels.
Why is that important?
1 Because when overwhelmed it is so easy to feel that you are doing more than your partner or that it’s your partner’s fault that something went wrong. And quarrelling with your partner is so demoralizing and tiring.
2 Because it saves time, especially sleep time.
3 Because there are economies of scale: You will get better at changing diapers if you change ALL the diapers. I’m talking about levels like changing diapers mid-air, holding the baby in one hand, without knees.
4 Because your body clock gets used to time-based splits.
5 Because conscious decisions about responsibilities, adapted if needed, are fairer in the long-term and fairness increases parental happiness.
Derek does: all bottles between 2am and mornings (he is a morning person), all diapers, nail clipping, school runs, bills.
Moqi does: all bottles between evening and 1.59am (I am an evening person), feeding (before weaning to the bottle), baths, nursery runs, scheduling, shopping.
- We still quarrel all the time about how much more I’m doing, but there is less to quarrel about, and we don’t quarrel in the night. It was much worse with the first baby, when we had not figured this out yet.
- That’s also because I usually can’t even hear the crying after 2am.
- Derek also can’t hear the crying before 2am, although he reacts immediately to the magic word “diaper”.
- All the above may also be applicable to simple tasks in other contexts than parenting.
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