The timing of parenting

I had a realization yesterday that kind of blew my mind, so I know you are (obviously) dying to hear it, right?

Here it is:

I’m a bad parent at night.

But that’s not all! Nope. I figured out — all of a sudden, in a very ephiany-type moment — that I am basically a crap parent at night, but I’m a really good parent first thing in morning. And there’s more: Darling Husband is a much better parent at night than he is in the morning. We’re opposites, don’t you see?

It all made total sense, when I thought about it. We probably all have our “best” times of day, so why wouldn’t we have certain times of day when our parenting is more “on” than others?

I’m a morning person. I’m really happy to see and cuddle the kids, after not seeing them since the evening before (well, besides Baby C — I still see her every three-ish hours all night for feedings).

I’m happy to go rescue little D from his room in the morning, give him a kiss and a hug, and bring him back to our bed for a snuggle. I’m patient with him in the bathroom, when he wants to brush and floss his teeth alongside me, or watch me while I’m in the shower (creepy), or dig through the cupboards and stuff tampons into his cement truck.

I remain in a good mood all morning when I’m with the kids. I make his breakfast, I pour him a cup of juice, I sweetly ask what show he wants to watch while he eats at his little table. If it’s Dora (as it usually is), I don’t grimace. When Baby C goes down for her morning nap, D and I spend time together — playing with toys in the basement, or baking something, or doing an art project.

They both go for naps after lunch, and that’s when my mood seems to begin a slow downward spiral. When they get up from their naps, I’m not nearly as peppy as I was first thing in the morning. I’m exhausted from working all afternoon (and possibly the morning, too, if Darling Husband was around to be with them). Darling Husband is at work. I’m looking at a lonnnnnng 4-5 hour stretch of zero adult conversation, and lots of whining.

Some evenings are better than others, but you can bet that by 7 or 7:30 p.m, my Mommy Patience is going to be shot. I’m barking at D to finish his bedtime snack. I’m tiredly removing C’s chubby little hands from her bowl of baby cereal, and scrubbing it off my wrists. I’m picking up toys and cleaning up the kitchen (so I don’t have a ton of work once the kids are sleeping). I’m tiredly singing songs while they’re in the tub. I’m not patient while D screws around with the toothpaste and make a huge mess brushes his teeth. I’m trying desperately to not be a Mean Mommy when he has a tantrum over not wanting to pick out a story, but oh, it’s so hard. It’s not like my job is almost over for the day — I sometimes will be returning to my home office to finish up work. I’m crankkkkkky. I want them to go BEDDDD already!

By the time D is in bed (well, on his floor, since he won’t sleep in either of his beds these days) and I’m nursing C in her room, I’m very, very, very grateful the “hard part” of the day is over. A few months back, when C was in her colicky phase, she would be crying until 11:30 p.m. on some nights, so I know it’s easier now, but … still hard.

So yup — kind of a crummy parent at night, but a really good one in the morning.

Darling Husband, on the other hand, is not a morning person. He works late a lot of nights, and then sometimes comes home and watches a lot of TV before turning in. He doesn’t have that little voice that reminds you to go to bed, because you’ll be tired in the morning. No, his little voice says “Ooh, that was a good episode! Let’s watch another!”

So when D bangs on his bedroom door in the morning, yelling “Oh-pen! Doaah! Oh-pen doaaaah!” Darling Husband is not happy to hear it. He doesn’t like to be woken up that way (well, who does, really?). He is slow-moving in the morning, and once he’s up, he is a bit zombie-like for a few hours. He sits at the kitchen table with the laptop, or on the couch with his cell phone, and looks kind of comatose.

But! Darling Husband is a night person, so he’s much better in the evening hours. He doesn’t seem to get too bothered when D isn’t focused on eating his snack. He’s happy to play with him and toss him in the air, and jokes with him while getting his PJs and bedtime diaper on. He’s endlessly patient about tucking him into his floor-bed (seriously, the kid has TWO BEDS in his room, and suddenly won’t sleep in either of them) and making sure his stuffed animals and dolls are all swaddled appropriately (“Tight! Tight!” D instructs).

So from the sounds of this, I should be parenting in the morning, and Darling Husband should be parenting in the evenings, right? Well, that’s exactly the opposite of how it’s been for months and months now, with Darling Husband’s shiftwork schedule. I’ve been working most mornings (while he’s alone with the kids), and then he’s been working most late-afternoons/evenings/nights (while I’m alone with the kids).

However, as of today, his schedule is changing (for a little while, at least) and we’ll get to test my theory. I’ll be spending more mornings alone with the kids, and Darling Husband will be spending more evenings with them. Will he enjoy not having morning duty? Will I thrive on getting to spend mornings with my babies? Will this cure my cranky evening parenting personality? Let’s hope!

What time of day do you do your “best” parenting?

So what do you think?

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