Waking up in the middle of the night is one of those parenting duties that is impossible to get used to. It’s right up there with cleaning up vomit and sending your kid off on the first day of school — it never gets easier. That’s why Reddit is so defensive of a new mom, who posted that her husband wants her to take over all overnight duties with their 3-week-old baby because she is still on maternity leave. What?!
In the subreddit “Am I The A—hole,” this mom posted that she has one year of maternity leave, but her husband just has six weeks. He is about to go back to work (he works in residential property management from home, which she describes as “pretty basic” but not “overly demanding”). “The other day my husband asked me if I agreed that it was fair that I take on most of the overnight baby care once he goes back to work,” she wrote. “I told him that I didn’t think it was fair. It would be one thing if he worked with heavy machinery or was a surgeon operating on people in a life or death situation.”
Currently, the couple takes care of their 3-week-old together. “My husband and I take overnight shifts with the baby so that each of us can get some decent sleep,” she wrote. Although, she adds that she is breastfeeding and pumping, so the longest stretch of sleep she has gotten is still only three-and-a-half hours. “My expectation is that when my husband starts working again, I’ll be taking care of our baby, our dogs and the house work during his work hours,” she explained. “However, outside of his work hours, the domestic duties (including baby care) should be split pretty much 50/50. This includes tending to the baby overnight.”
This woman is feeding her baby all night long, and taking care of the baby and their dogs all day alone. Now her husband wants her to do the overnight shift alone, too? Um, no.
“Taking care of a baby is demanding — while I love spending time with our newborn, it’s in many ways more challenging/exhausting than my own desk job (I’m a lawyer),” she added. “I don’t think it’s fair to expect me to shoulder most of the burden of sleep deprivation, even when he goes back to work. I’m grateful to have a lengthy maternity leave to care for and bond with our baby, but it’s not a vacation. I also struggle with my mood at times, and sleep is an important part of keeping my mental health in check.”
As someone with three kids, I couldn’t agree more! Sleep is so important. In fact, the Sleep Foundation says there is growing evidence that suggests “poor sleep may induce or exacerbate depression.” She isn’t even asking her husband to do anything unreasonable — just help out so she can get at least three hours of sleep a night.
Redditors agreed, pointing out that the woman is a lawyer and still finds taking care of a baby hard work. “Is everyone skipping over the fact that OP said that taking care of a baby is more exhausting and time consuming than being a LAWYER?!” they wrote. “You both have a job right now, just a different kind of job, it’s fair to split domestic duties/ night work 50/50.”
Maternity leave is not a vacation, and it can be exhausting managing a household and taking care of a newborn at the same time. “Keeping a newborn alive, handling the housework, and the dogs is work,” someone said. “Your ARE working during the same 8hrs he is. It’s absolutely absurd that he thinks you should work the 8hrs he does and then keep working while he plops himself down and has a break.”
Many commenters offered solutions for ways to split the overnight duties. “Some negotiation needs to take place,” one person wrote. “You can do nights and hubby can do more around the house. Just because you’re on maternity leave, it doesn’t mean you have nothing to do.”
Someone else said, “Every couple I know handles night shifts with newborns differently, so you two need to work out your own rhythm.” She added that when her baby wakes up, her husband gets up and changes the diaper then brings the baby to her to nurse. “We are both interrupted but it is brief for both.” She said she has friends that take shifts, so they both get six hours of sleep, and other friends who alternate days. Bottom line: no one can do it alone. “Find your solution. But the solution should not be that you shoulder all the burden while your husband is in dreamland.”
One commenter summed up the real truth of the matter: “Babies bring a no-win solution for exhaustion. No matter what the situation is someone or both will be tired.” Luckily, this stage goes by fast!
Check out these products to help kids sleep!