I have come to realize my husband’s parenting techniques, though somewhat suspect, are also incredibly clever. So I thought everyone might benefit from a parenting course that could only be taught by THE MAN HIMSELF.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to “Fatherhood 101”.
Lesson #1: Feigning Bedtime & Naptime Ineptitude
The more your wife puts the baby to sleep, the less accustomed the baby will be to having you around during bedtime or naptime. The goal is to make your mere presence upset “The Bedtime Routine” so supremely that it is easier for everyone if you are left out of the process. Women are more predisposed to handling bedtime anyway, since they are often nursing the baby to sleep during the first few months. The longer your wife nurses, the easier it is for you. But as soon as the nursing stops, that’s when you have to employ more extreme methods of deflection. Start by continually reinforcing your wife’s superior abilities in the sleeptime arena in the form of compliments and gratitude. While this will not work in and of itself, it will set the stage for “Operation Bedtime Fail”.
OPERATION BEDTIME FAIL: Eventually, your wife will request you give bedtime or naptime a shot. You have two positive things going for you at this point. 1) You will be alone in the room with the baby so your wife’s imagination is free to run wild with the havoc you are wreaking in there. And 2) most babies do not like bedtime and will cry at some point during the process. You want to use this crying to your advantage. After an appropriate amount of time has elapsed, put on your best frazzled face, take the baby out of the room (holding him/her awkwardly is a nice touch), and present the bleary-eyed child to your wife claiming “it’s not working”. Most women will just opt to do it themselves for the benefit of the baby. Repeat “Operation Bedtime Fail” whenever necessary. Eventually, you will have such a bad bedtime/naptime track record, your wife will only ask for your help in absolute emergencies.
Lesson #2: How To Win Baby Monitor Chicken
The first rule is to sleep like a rock at all times. If this does not come naturally to you— pretend, pretend, pretend. It is best if you start “sleeping like a rock”at the very beginning of your relationship to establish “hard to wake” credentials from the onset. If this is not already established, begin immediately. Now— if the baby cries in the middle of the night, you do not hear it (even if you hear it)— you get me? Then, if your wife tries to wake you, make it next to impossible. The goal is to make the act of waking you harder for your wife than the act of tending to the baby herself.
Eventually, your wife will resort to extreme measures of waking— shouting, hitting, nudity etc. It is at this point you might want to employ an “unfavorable wake-up demeanor”. If you are not comfortable being outright angry, try fearful. I have employed a technique I call “Bear Attack”. If awoken, act as if you are camping in the woods and a bear has just entered your tent. I find an over-the-top body shudder combined with a look of sheer terror works brilliantly to deter someone from waking you from your peaceful slumber.
These tactics can only be employed for so long before your wife will realize she doesn’t care what she has to do to wake you or what your reaction might be. It is then you must move onto a phase I call “Chicken Without A Head”
CHICKEN WITHOUT A HEAD: If extreme methods of waking have been employed and there is no way to get out of the fact that it is indeed “your turn”, I suggest jumping out of bed like a crazy person, looking around wildly to get your bearings, shouting in a deranged tone of voice— “Ok! It’s my turn to get the baby!” and then promptly running into a wall. The beauty of this technique is that even though your wife is most likely about to lose her mind at the thought of one more sleepless night, she is not going to entrust her baby into the arms of someone who just ran into a wall. If you pull this off well enough, you may ensure your help is never requested again.
Lesson #3: Shirking Responsibilities While Appearing Helpful
Pick a household chore you don’t mind participating in. The more time consuming the chore the better. For instance, cooking. Cooking has the advantage of taking up a lot of time plus it offers opportunities to get out of the house (i.e. you can offer to make a grocery run when you really want an escape). Dive into this new hobby with complete and utter abandon. BUT. Don’t let on that you enjoy it. You are doing it solely for the benefit of the family. You are doing it to help out your wife. You are doing it to bring proper nourishment to your child. Repeat this daily like a mantra. If you believe in your own self-sacrifice, it will seem much more genuine to your wife. Now you are free to turn down diaper changing duties because you are in the middle of cooking dinner. Everybody wins.
Lesson #4: Say It With Feeling
Every now and again, tell your wife how much you appreciate her. Even if she sees right through your motives, she still loves to hear it. And there is nothing easier.
Editor’s Note: I feel the need to say that over the past couple of months, my husband has stepped it up and been waking up with the baby (she still wakes up around 6am) while I sleep in. He is also a very good sport.