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Dad’s short paternity leave breeds resentment—but you already knew that

You’ve just welcomed a baby. Along with the joy is the sense that your world has just been flipped upside down.

In the ideal case, your partner is right there with you as you try to make sense of diapering and feeding—because two sleep-deprived brains working together is certainly better than one.

But then, just when you feel like you may be getting the hang of it, your partner will probably go back to work: A 2014 study from Boston College found the average American dad took two weeks of paternity leave while a 2011 report from the National Center for Health found the average working mom takes 10 weeks off after baby is born. According to the Pew Research Center, another one in three women becomes a stay-at-home mom.

That means there are, on average, a minimum of eight weeks where mom is navigating the most demanding job of her life without backup at home.

That, says Erin Barbossa, LMSW, can be one of the most challenging transitions of all.

“Even though one partner is working outside of the home in a more typical work setting, the other is at home working too, but the job is brand new,” Barbossa says. “The tasks change daily before you can learn them, the boss only speaks in crying, and it's mostly isolating. There is nothing normal about this new job.”

In her experience working with couples navigating the new parenthood, she says this regularly results in some resentment on behalf of the parent staying at home—and that can simmer long past the first weeks a parent is back at work.

As Barbossa explained, a new mom at home may envy that her partner knows what to expect out of his day or, at least, can go to the bathroom without company.

Barbossa’s professional experience is backed up by a 2011 survey that found 50% of stay-at-home moms reported feeling like they never got a break from parenting—while 96% said their partners got replenishing “time outs.”

With that kind of unaddressed disparity, it would be easy to let resentment build. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s how to work through the new dynamics in your household:

1. Talk early and often

Before baby arrives, don’t just discuss the logistics of parental leave and who will return to work when—aim to also have honest conversations about the expectations for when that leave comes to an end. Then take the time to do that with every subsequent addition to your family.

“Every child is a massive recalibration of equality in a relationship,” Barbossa says. “The more you can front-load with each other about expectations, desires and values, the more you can prevent deep-seeded issues.”

2. Know that “fairness” is a moving target

Barbossa notes that just when you seem to attain “balance,” you should expect the demands to shift again. (Parenting lesson #1!) And just as you’ll go on to talk with your kids about how life isn’t always fair, that’s something that’s also essential for us to recognize.

What that doesn’t mean is burying your emotions until they feel overwhelming. Rather, Barbossa says to communicate your needs and “validate what your partner brings to the fairness equation.”

3. Work together outside of work

According to an October 2017 study, marriages suffer when moms feel like they are sacrificing their careers and doing more than their fair share at home. To counteract that, licensed marriage and family therapist Jill Whitney says couples should work together to strike their ideal balance of work and domestic responsibilities.

“Some dads deeply wish they could have more time with their kids,” Whitney says. “They may be envious to be missing out on family life.”

For some families, this may very well mean that dads scale back on work—or, at least, know they are the ones responsible for unloading the dishwasher at the end of the day.

4. Take care of “what’s on your side of the street”

If you begin to feel resentment toward your partner—who is likely just trying to do the best he can—it’s key to look inward.

“You need to get clear about your values and about when you've missed opportunities tell your partner what you're hoping for and what you need,” Barbossa says. “At the same time, you have to walk the walk and find ways to appreciate him, if you are asking him to appreciate you.”

5. Speak openly, but kindly

Research from The Gottman Institute shows that when partners approach disagreements gently, they are more likely to find a solution. As Dr. Julie Gottman said, “Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger, but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”

When it comes to resentment stemming from changing responsibilities, this may mean remembering that your partner is also going through a big transition. And while he may be able to eat lunch on his own time, he’s also making sacrifices. With this in mind, it’s easier to approach your conversation from a place of mutual compassion.

6. Give yourself grace

Paired with wonky sleep hours and the other challenges of new parenthood, Barbossa says it’s common for moms and dads to feel like resentment is “the beginning of the end” or a sign the marriage is in trouble.

“These fears are a useful message that something needs to change, so don't ignore them,” she says. “But at the same time, treat your relationship with compassion and know that you're both doing the best you can, even when it might not seem that way.”

The early days after a new baby arrives are a big transition for everyone in the family—and your partner’s return to work is sure to stir up some big emotions. As long as you’re both committed to working through them together, you should feel confident you’re on the right track.

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The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).

In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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Mealtime can be one of the most stressful times for parents and kids, especially when there's a picky eater in the house. Your little might get anxious about their food touching, requesting a completely new meal. Or, they might avoid the foods altogether, leaving you concerned about their nutrition. While helping your child develop healthy eating habits is the ultimate goal, you can also incorporate products that will make mealtime more fun for everyone involved.

Here are our favorite products that help picky eaters be, well, less picky (or at least enjoy mealtime enough to not worry about certain foods!).

1. Food cubby

These silicone separates suction to the plate to keep separate foods from touching, or to keep runny foods from spreading. Say goodbye to tantrums from peas and corn touching, mama.

Food Cubby Plate Divider, Amazon, $14.99


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with postpartum anxiety.]

I see you, mama.

I know you don't want to feel this way. I know you're terrified of everything in the world right now. I know you want to wrap your baby in a bubble and keep them safely in your arms forever. I know you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you are too nervous to drift off in case they stop breathing. I know you don't want to let anyone near your little one because they could be carrying an illness. I know you've cried in the bathroom and begged for the voice to stop. And I know you love your child more than anything in the world.

I know because I was you.

I was in the 10% of estimated women who are affected by Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but had no idea what I was experiencing. I worried about EVERY little thing but just brushed the fears aside, thinking this was just normal of first-time motherhood. But it was something more.

I lived in constant fear that my son was either going to get hurt or he was going to die.

It started the first week of being home from the hospital. I was so scared of SIDS that I actually googled "How much sleep do I need in order to survive?" I would only get two to three hours, not because my child was keeping me up, but because I was scared he would stop breathing and I wouldn't be awake to save him.

I would religiously wash all of his clothes with baby detergent and if I thought I mistakenly used regular detergent, I would rewash everything. I was afraid he would get a skin rash if I didn't. If my husband had the slightest hint of a cold, I would banish him to the guest room and handle all of the baby duties on my own until he was fully recovered.

I would wash and rewash bottles because I was afraid they weren't clean enough and convinced myself if I didn't then he would catch a rare illness. When we supplemented with formula, I wasted multiple cans because I was so scared I didn't measure it correctly, so I would dump it and start over.

I didn't want to be this way. I didn't want to let PPA be the thief of my joy, but anxiety doesn't care who you are or what you've been through. I knew my previous miscarriages attributed to my PTSD, which manifested into anxiety.

I knew I needed help.

I cried so many nights as my husband and baby boy slept because I just wanted to feel "normal." I didn't want to overanalyze every bump or rash or cough, I wanted to enjoy being a first time mom, but I felt like I was drowning.

On top of the anxiety was guilt. I had wanted this baby so badly—I wanted to feel joy, happiness, and gratitude, and yet I felt overwhelmed, sad, and miserable. What was happening?

I would tell myself not to worry, I'd try to convince myself a regular cold was just a cold. But then a voice would come into my head and make me second guess myself. What if it was a serious infection and became fatal if I ignored it? So I rushed my baby boy to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong.

I went to the pediatrician over 20 times in my son's first year of life. One time I went because I thought he had a cancerous mole, which turned out to be a piece of lint stuck to his hair. I felt like I was losing control of myself.

Eventually, when my son was 3 months old, I went to a therapist for help. I needed someone to hear me and give me the tools to overcome this. I am not without daily anxiety, I still have many fears and I have to bring myself back to reality, but I work on it every day. I cope and I make an effort to continue with my therapist so I can beat this.

Even though this topic is hard to write about, I have no shame in my story. Carrying a child is hard, giving birth is harder, and jumping onto the roller coaster of motherhood is one hormonal, wild ride.

Mamas, we are allowed to not be okay and we have every right to make that known. I wasn't okay and it took every ounce of strength I had to get myself out of the darkness.

If I could tell you anything about struggling with this, it is this: PPA is real, it is not normal, and getting help is okay. Do not feel ashamed, do not feel embarrassed, and don't for one second think you owe anyone an explanation.

Do not let a single person make you feel like you are less of a mother. You are a magnificent human being, a loving mama bear, and you will get through this.

I see you, and I'm holding space for you.

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Ready to bring a baby on board? Feelings of excitement can often be met with those of financial concern as you prep for this milestone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2015, the cost of raising a child is $233,610—a number that can make anyone's jaw drop to the floor.

But before you start to worry, here are ways you can become more financially savvy before the baby is born:

1. Budget for healthcare costs

The cost of delivering a baby can vary by state, but suffice it to say it can be thousands of dollars. Castlight Health found that the lowest average cost of delivery was $6,075 in Kansas City, MO and the highest average cost $15,420 in Sacramento, CA. Costs are even higher for a Cesarean delivery.

The first thing you want to do is check your insurance and see what they will cover so what you will be responsible for. Then create a separate savings account so that you can cover any costs that you're on the hook for. You can set up automatic savings after each payday up until the baby is born to help assist with any healthcare costs associated with delivery.

2. Cut your expenses

Before the baby arrives, do a spending audit and see where you can slash some expenses. Free up any leftover money to help cover the increased costs that will come, such as food, clothes, and formula.

If you're struggling with how to do that, take a look at all of your expenses and write next to each either"want" or "need." Look at your "want" list and see which expenses are ones you can either eliminate or cut back on. If it doesn't bring you joy or add value, ditch it! You might even find subscriptions that you didn't know you had.

3. Go for second-hand goods

Of course, there are some things you definitely want to buy new for baby, but things like clothes and toys you can get second hand and save a lot of money. Your baby will grow so fast and buying new clothes every few months can add up. If your family members or friends have old baby clothes or toys they're willing to part with, it will save money and you can pay it forward down the line.

4. Look for sales or coupons

Clothes and toys are items that you can buy second hand, but products, like a car seat and crib are best new. You want to be up-to-date with safety and know what you're getting. Before going shopping, search for sales or coupons before you head out. A little research online can go a long way and save you hundreds.

5. Have a garage sale

If you need to make room for baby, it's time to get rid of items that you no longer use or need. Take all of the stuff you are planning to get rid of and have a garage sale to make extra money. You can also try selling online on Craigslist, Poshmark and OfferUp too.

Take the money you earn from selling your stuff and put it in your savings account earmarked for your baby.

6. Get a 529 plan

It's never too early to save for your baby's college. You can open a state-sponsored 529 plan which is a tax-advantaged savings account for education-related costs. Instead of asking for gifts or toys from family and friends, you can request money to go toward a 529 plan. It will be an impactful gift that will help your child in the future and help lessen the financial burden on you.

7. Prep now instead of later

Your whole world will change when your baby arrives, so in order to save money, time and stress, create a plan now. Is there a family or friend close by who can babysit if you need some rest or have to run an errand? Ask them now if they can help out.

Start preparing meals in bulk that can be in the freezer and easily made so you don't have to think about food. Put your bills on autopay so that you don't miss any payments and get hit with late fees. Know how long you can get maternity or paternity leave and understand how that will affect your income and budget. Getting all of this ready ahead of time can help you in the long run.

8. Purchase life insurance

While thinking about why you need life insurance can be a bit stressful, preparation is essential, especially when you're adding another member to your family. Life insurance will provide financial support if you had a loss of income due to something happening to either you or your partner.

9. Understand any tax benefits

The birth of your baby will affect your taxes, which can actually end up putting more money back into your pocket. Do some research online and see how a dependent will change your taxes in your state, such as new exemptions available. Or, find a trusted accountant or tax specialist in your area who can walk you through your options.

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