As a child growing up in a two-parent household, I didn’t think much of the fact that both parents were living together and parenting together. I mean, kids aren’t really known for noticing that kind of thing, are they? They know what they see and what they're used to and, whether that's a two-parent situation or a single parent home, it's normal to them. However, now that I have a family of my own, I’m thankful I’m parenting with a partner (and by “thankful,” I mean, “crumble onto my knees in weepy gratitude."). There are things grown-ass co-parents do every day to stay strong and parent to the best of their ability, and like I said, I'm just over the moon really freakin' thankful that I'm part of a grown-ass co-parenting team.
Of course, I know it’s possible to parent solo (I offer all my humble respect and appreciation for those that are doing it or have done it or will do it), and that many people are ballers as single parents. I also know that I can't claim to be anything close to a baller. Not to downplay the responsibilities and challenges of co-parenting, because, I mean, all parenting can be difficult. But when you have a parenting partner, who can help you with all things big and small, the distribution of certain obligations can make even the most difficult of parenting tasks seem somewhat manageable.
Of course, in order to maintain an healthy co-parenting relationship, it's important to continually evaluate. Parenthood requires just as much, if not more, attention to detail than any other responsibility couples might share; whether it be money or a home or chores or careers or coming up with a schedule so one of you does not secretly sneak ahead when you’re watching Netflix together. Basically, co-parenting takes diligent work, which is why every grown-ass co-parent is going to do these 11 things, every day:
They Share Diaper Duty, Or Snack Duty, Or Bath Duty, Or Whatever Duty Is Unpleasant
My husband was the one who was coherent enough to receive the diaper tutorial from the nurses while I was lying in a hospital bed shortly after delivering our son. From that moment on, I counted on him for way more diaper-related tasks.
They Point Out The Ways That They're Helping Each Other
Not sure about you guys, but in our household, if a couple hours go by since a major chore was completed, like oh, say, dusting something, we a don't hesitate to point it out to one another like the mature adults that we are. It's not about placing blame, because that's no fun, but it is about holding ourselves accountable in a way that is supportive.
They Acknowledge Any And All Efforts Their Partner Makes To Be Human
I'll be like, "Hey, I shaved my legs!" and my partner give me a proper celebratory glance and pretend not to notice that I conveniently forgot to add "...up to my ankles."
They Support The Other’s Need To Shower And Go To The Bathroom
This sounds silly if you've not experienced life with a young child, but our household has found that (unless our kiddo is sleeping) there's not really a convenient time for Parent A to shower that doesn't leave Parent B in charge and the only adult the kid or kids can rely on. Honestly, it can be akin to "leave no man behind," except you're totally going to leave your partner behind while you enjoy some much-needed and much-deserved solo-shower time because, well, you're about to do the same for them in a few minutes.
They Give Each Other A Chance To Chill Out, Alone
My husband will be like, "Hey, I need to go do some stuff," and I'll be like, "Got it." And then he's like, "Can you be with our son?" and I'm like, "OH YEAH, right, yes, of course." Honestly, taking a few minutes to run some errands or just drive endlessly until the weight of parenthood doesn't seem unmanageable anymore, can not only help yourself, but help your partner. When you're in a good mood, your partner's mood will probably take a turn for the better, too.
They Chill Out, Together
Our kiddo's high chair is not far from our couch, which may or may not be good feng shui. But, what it lacks in design aesthetic, it makes up for in minutes of relaxing we can do while still properly supervising him as he snacks.
They Do Something Simply Because The Other Person Needs Or Wants It
When you decide to co-parent with someone, you're essentially deciding to not only make sacrifices for your impending spawn, but for your partner, too. In order to help one another through the rollercoaster that is parenthood, you'll both need (and more importantly, be willing) to help one another out when necessary. Sometimes that can mean taking on an extra night feeding so your partner can sleep. Other times, it means making dinner or just bringing them a treat you know they want. It's clichéd but, you know, it really is all about the little things.
They Make Sure Everyone Is Eating And Drinking
All joking aside, it's very easy to put your kiddo first and forget to squeeze in legitimate snacks that don't come out of wrappers. A grown-ass co-parent is going to make sure that not only is the kid (or kids) fed and taken care of, but their co-parenting partner is, too. You can't take care of someone unless you take care of yourself and while people tend to think that martyrdom and motherhood go hand in hand, they really freakin' don't.
They Allow One Another To Complain
So I may or may not have been barfed on last week, and it may or may not have been my fault for running quickly across the street while holding my son tightly (it was a crosswalk, but still) immediately after he ate a bunch of crackers. And, I may or may not have mentioned it to my husband six to eight times per day for the next three days. And my husband may or may not have totally allowed me to vent for an inhumane amount of time because he knows that if I can't talk to him about the tough stuff, who can I talk to?!
They Laugh Together About Something Gross And/Or Frustrating
Speaking of gross, our son is doing this thing where he likes to chew food and then spit it out and offer it back to you.
I feel like that's all the explanation I need to give.
They Just Laugh, Period
Chewed food, diapers, throw-up, pretty much all spontaneous activities that involve one or more body fluids, require two things. First, strong soap. And second, in the immortal words of Her Highness Taylor Swift, we must "Shake It Off." A grown-ass co-parent is going to be there to laugh with their partner. They're going to help make parenthood a little less serious and a little more fun. They're going to provide some much needed moments of complete hilarity because, hey, when you're parenting with a grown-ass co-parent, it can be pretty damn fun.