Tag team parents need support, even if they are grumpy
4 ways to support parents.
Three seems to be the magic number. Paying for one or even two (especially with the typical sibling discount) children to attend day care stretches the budget, but is doable for two-career families. However, when you add that third baby to the mix, the calculator comes out and the household budget gets picked over.
First, the essentials are highlighted. Groceries are necessary, as are utilities, the house and the cars. Then the extras are systematically chopped from the budget. Why do we eat out so much? No new car this year. Do we really need cable TV? Maybe we should look into switching cell phone plans. Generic brands are just as good.
While a percentage of families decide to become one-income households after hacking up their budgets, today’s economy doesn’t afford that option to everyone. Many do what my brother- and sister-in-law chose when baby number three was born. They now take turns with the kids and their jobs. It’s called tag team parenting.
Things to remember about tag team parents
They are not snubbing you. Between work and the kids, they barely have time for each other. If you haven’t heard from them in forever, give them a call. Yes, you’ll probably have to leave voicemail, but they will greatly appreciate you reaching out. And those few moments they are listening to your recorded voice are like an oasis in the chaos of their young family lives.
They are not mad at you. They are frazzled, sleep deprived, distracted parents trying to keep it together. Don’t take it personally if they come off edgy, punchy or short tempered. Give them a smile, hug and words of encouragement. And offer to babysit so they can enjoy some much-needed alone time.
Their budgets are limited. If they had spare cash dripping from their pockets enough to meet up at the vineyard or head to the mountains for a ski weekend, they wouldn’t be tag team parents. While taking their whole family out to the movies would be a budget breaker, they might appreciate borrowing a DVD and a recipe for homemade caramel popcorn. Better yet, make the caramel popcorn for them, as they will probably never find the time to make it.
They need support. Their system is bound to have gaps. An important impromptu meeting here or a busy grandparent there can offset the precarious balance of the tag team routine. Be there to lend a helping hand, whether to babysit, cook a meal or run an errand.
All it takes is a little community effort to make the world — even that of frazzled families — go round.