Parenting Roles: What Happens When Mom Leaves For Eight Weeks?


Gender roles are odd enough but add kids and suddenly there are a million new roles and expectations, and everyone does it all a different way. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, dual working parents, or even non-working parents, every family is different and handles parenting roles in wildly different ways.

What parenting roles do you or your partner fill? Are they fixed roles, or do you rotate, and flex based on week, mood, or circumstance? How do you handle a significant change in parenting roles in your house?

I’m packing and preparing for an eight-week out-of-state professional training that will leave my husband in charge of our home, our 4 goats, 12 chickens, 4 dogs, 3 cats and, not to be forgotten, our two kids who are both under six. I currently have all sorts of mixed feelings and emotions about it, (thank you stress and hormones). Normally, I have the main parenting role at home, even during my deployments and trainings. 

Lowered dessert expectation
Parenting Roles: lowered dessert expectations.

I’m a stay-at-home mom now, so I’ve done the majority of day-to-day home, child, and pet care for the last two-ish years. This includes cooking, cleaning, childcare, education, and whatever the animals need- literally just about everything at home. For the record, my husband helps a lot more now that many of our home improvement projects are finished, but now I have to leave for eight weeks. Normally, I’d be worried: how will my husband do it all, and how will my kids survive without me?

Instead, it feels like my husband and kids have already stepped into their new roles and are ready and waiting for me to leave. I’m feeling conflicted about this changing parenting role.

My husband and I typically have the same end goals- with wildly different approaches on how to get there, particularly when it comes to childcare and pet care. I often call our relationship “co-parenting” with how often we need to communicate and compromise.

My husband sees my work trip as his opportunity to parent exactly how he wants with me literally out of the house for eight weeks. He is excited about this. My daughter is happy to have dad finally drop her off and pick her up at school, like I’m the nanny she can’t wait to get rid of. I know that isn’t the case, and she will miss me- they all will- but right now these changing parenting roles are starting to hurt my mom-pride just a little bit.

I love how supportive my family is, and all that they’re willing to do to support my professional opportunities, but do they need to kick me out the door? 

Parenting Roles
Parenting Roles: what supportive looks like on Thanksgiving.

Some of these underlying feelings I have vaguely remind me of when I was working full-time and dropping the kids off at daycare every day. The underlying feelings of guilt, self-doubt, and being second-best have pulled and nagged at me since becoming a mom. This fictional balance between work and mom-hood is just simply weird. Some days, I’m incredibly confident and ready to commit to my career, no matter how far away it takes me. On other days, I question why I’m so selfish about pursuing my career that I am leaving my family at home to learn to cook and suffer on their own. Not to mention they’ll run to someone else first when they look for comfort. Why does this changing parenting role come with a decrease in mom hugs? I need mom hugs too!

The balance required to make me feel good about myself as a professional and as a parent is so significant that it requires a role change in and of itself. Sometimes I read varying negative “how could you” critiques about both working moms and stay-at-home moms. I truly believe we all struggle, but in different ways, with ever-changing parenting roles.

I think sacrifice is always required to achieve a career or to achieve your goals as a mom. Life is filled with sacrifice in general, isn’t it? It often feels like nonstop compromises to your original plans. Sometimes we need that supportive kick out the door to help get to our goals without feeling like we have to self-sacrifice again. Maybe this is an area where dad gets it right? Maybe eight weeks of my husband and I switching parenting roles will be good for everyone. 

There will absolutely be an adjustment for everyone at home, considering we have polar opposite ways of doing things around the house. Expectations have to be managed all around. For example, I need to lower my expectations for the house staying clean, and the kids eating the healthy-ish meals I typically prepare. My kids need to lower their expectations for hairstyles and dessert regularity. 

My pets need to lower their expectations for bedtime snuggles. My husband needs to lower his expectations for himself. Trying to manage everything around the house day in and day out requires marathon endurance and expert-level multi-tasking. It’s not easy. I know from experience that letting the laundry and dishes go undone for an entire week will drown someone in this house. He will have to lower his expectations, but he’ll still have to get everything done- moms are expected to, right? 

Ultimately, changing parenting roles at home requires flexibility, patience, and some modifications to expectations. One parent isn’t better than another, because no two parents are the same- it’s impossible to compare two different objects. We offer love differently, we communicate differently, we teach very differently- but isn’t that what makes parenting great? Having different perspectives and influences helps our children grow into adult people, and it helps shape and mold them into who they want to be. 

I may struggle with this changing parenting role for now, but this will be a time for all of us to learn and grow. How do you handle changing parenting roles? Have you had to learn to adapt to life changes?


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Kelli Hier Pike
A born and raised Vermonter, Kelli got her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Vermont, then joined the Vermont Air National Guard, where she met her husband. After that, she got her Master’s Degree in Digital Forensic Science from Champlain College. She and her husband and bought a house in the woods with 30+ acres of land to raise their two kids (4 and 2), three dogs, two cats, six chickens, and three guinea hens. Kelli stays home with her kids and pets while running her own wood crafting business, Tabor Ridge Designs, during nap-times. Kelli occasionally writes for her own mom blog, Calm Collected Mom, because we can all dream. She doesn't always think of herself as a writer, but she often has conversations with people over similar life frustrations and wants everyone to know that they're not alone. Life is full of irritations and annoyances, but Kelli thinks that we’ll get through it with a great story to tell afterward!


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