Tag-team parenting occurs when both parents in a home agree to work opposite schedules so that at least one of them can be home for the kiddies at all times. For example, one parent works at night in order to wake the children in the morning,
prepare breakfasts, change overnight diapers, get them ready for school if need be and enforce naps (oh why do they fight us on this?!), while the other works during the day in order to be home at night for homework, dinner, baths, bedtime stories and tucking in.
A certain peace of mind weaves through the family with this arrangement. The parents save on daycare and know that their children are safe in their own home by someone who loves and understands them. One parent witnesses milestones and achievements and relays them to the other. Regardless of how fine your daycare facility is or what a wonderful nanny you have, it is much nicer to hear your
partner describe your child's first step or new word or winning the spelling bee. The thread connecting the hearts is there.
The kids, however, have the best deal. They get to spend the whole day with one or the other parent (well, this might not be such a great thing to them as they get older) or sometimes both. Though they may not realize it, a sense of security greets them along with their Mom or Dad when they wake up from a nap or
return home from school.
The downside to TTP is that each parent in effect becomes a single parent. There is never someone to hand the clingy two-year off to so you can start dinner and help your second grader with their math homework while sending the fourth grader to his room for teasing his cousin. Adult discussions will be done over the phone during breaks or after the children are (finally) asleep. E-mails help with grocery lists, scheduling and love notes.
Love notes are vital. The biggest danger for tag team parents is their marriage. It is difficult to keep the spark alive when the both of you never see each other awake, and when you do, you are so tired and/or cranky that conversations last just a few minutes before one or
both fall asleep on the couch. Pounce on the quiet moments and tender gestures. Getting up to prepare breakfast and lunch for your honey before they dash off to work or slamming a couple of Mountain Dews so you can be up when he or she returns may increase face time as well
as provide a precious moment or two of closeness.
Squeeze all you can from these moments. As someone who has done this for nearly nine years (and I'm sure that some of you have done it longer than that), I can tell you that it is work to do it with any grace and courage. Your friends and relatives will wonder why
you've sacrificed all your personal and career goals to work these nowhere jobs. Your employer will neither understand nor care that her minor schedule change can wreak complete havoc on the well-oiled machine of your day. You may question it all yourself.
Then turn around and look. You and your partner have a wonderful child or two or more, healthy and grounded and kind, and the love you show each other comforts and guides them. They have benefitted beyond measure from your care and love. Your life has been enriched and filled but
will undoubtedly accommodate more.
One of you call in sick to work and you are all home at once. After a weekday at the beach or an afternoon watching movies, you all fall asleep together in your bed, and as you drift off, you realize that yes, it is all worth it.