Hello!

Picture this, if you dare. It’s a Saturday morning and I am dashing about the house wearing only my knickers, still damp from the shower.

Why? One of my boys requested paper, pencils and sticky tape. The other parent in our house was going about his business unaware of the happenings around him.

You know what that makes me, and you, if almost every shower you take is interrupted? The default parent. This is the parent who the kids will automatically gravitate towards to have their demands met.

Being the default parent is relentless. Here’s why:

1) Every shower is interrupted

As a default parent your kids ask you to do anything and everything kids while you’re in the shower, wiping bottoms, taking jumpers off, dealing with sibling disputes, opening drink bottles, the list is endless.

One would think the other parent in the house could attend to these needs. Not so!

The kids will bypass the other parent in favour of the default parent. Even the shower provides no refuge for the default parent.

2) Clothes

The default parent knows precisely which cupboard the kids clothes are kept in, which side of the wardrobe, whether their favourite jumper is in the wash, what they left the house wearing. If the other parent is to dress a child the default parent will either need to lay the clothes out or answer copious questions about where the clothes are located. When laying clothes out, the default parent cannot forget anything. If there is more than one child in the house, the default parent must put the piles of clothes out and make it clear which pile is for which particular child. If not, the kids will inevitably be dressed in clothes that are far too big or small (my six month old was chubby, but not quite a size 2).

Sound familiar? Then you’ll be well aware that being the default parent is relentless.

3) Food

Perhaps it’s because my boys were attached to my boob for so long, or maybe it’s because I am their short order chef. For whatever reason, the default parent bears the burden of feeding the hungry beasts children. The default parent can often be found in the kitchen making sandwiches according to the demands of the child (vegemite but no butter, no butter mummy, just vegemite), fetching drinks, peeling or cutting fruit.

If the other parent attempts food preparation there are inevitable questions about their ability to produce the food according to the whims of the child. The other parent is unlikely to understand instructions like ‘leave it big’ in relation to strawberries.

4) Leaving the house

Every parent knows that leaving the house is a mission in itself. But the default parent is the one packing the countless snacks needed to sustain children on an outing (refer to Food above), jumpers, spare clothes, nappies and wipes, hats, sunscreen, this list goes on.

The default parent is often left flustered by the experience.

The other parent kinda wanders aimlessly about the house, all set to go but trying to work out why the default parent is so cross and why on earth they aren’t ready yet.

5) There’s no downtime at home

There is absolutely no way the default parent can have downtime at home.

The requests for food, to get play dough, to fetch paper for drawings, to stop a brother hitting the other, to make a lego aeroplane, to get a puzzle, you get the idea, simply never stop.

Meanwhile the other parent can read the newspaper, perhaps not front to back like the pre-kids days.

This is something the default parent would not even bother to attempt. The only way for the default parent to fleetingly escape their relentless role is to remove themselves from the house.

6) Keeping track of kid stuff

Conversations between the parents go like this: Other parent – Do you know where the kid’s shoes are? Default parent – Wherever you put them when you carried them in from outside. Other parent – Oh. Default parent – I suspect they are at the front door where you dumped them. The shoes are in fact where the other parent left them.

Somehow, without consciously noting where the shoes are, the default parent commits this information to memory for the moment when the information is needed.

Or, another conversation:

Other parent – the kid is sad because he didn’t get an invitation to Frank’s party.

Default parent – Frank has already had his party. Remember, we went, it was at Luna Park.

Other parent – yeah, the whole class is invited and it’s a bit weird he missed out and the invites were in pink envelopes.

Default parent – Odd, but are you sure it’s Frank?

Other parent – Yep.

The next day, the kid advises he got an invitation to Frankie’s birthday party. Frankie is a girl, a different kid entirely.

Even the kid is frustrated that the other parent hadn’t worked out Frankie, rather than Frank, was having a party.

Being a default parent is relentless for many reasons, but keeping a mental note of everything relevant to each kid, every minor detail, is exhausting. The other parent on Wallace is a brilliant Dad and I certainly don’t begrudge him my ‘default parent’ status. I doubt I’d change it if I could, but every now and then it’d be nice to have a role change! If you are the default parent and fancy a brilliant read about life as a default parenting, you must read this post by M.Blazoned.

Are you the default parent? Do you find it relentless? 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • Yeah, I’m the default parent, although I must say I haven’t let things get as bad as the above. I openly encourage the kids to go to their dad if I’m busy. I must admit though that I do lay out their clothes and make sure they have snacks and drink, etc. if we go out. I basically have to tell my husband everything that he needs to do in order for him to help out.

    Reply

  • Absolutely, yes I am the default parent. My son is 16 and we’re still working on it. We’re getting better at it and my son is figuring out who to best go to. It is a work-in-progress!!!

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  • I am the default parent in this household and yes it is relentless. It also leads to resentment!

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  • In a way I feel positive to be the default parent. But sometimes I feel annoyed with my husband when he doesn’t seem to take responsibility and doesn’t act on what is happening around him. This week on my husbands watch, my youngest licked the toilet brush ( glory halleluja !) while I was upstairs brushing my teeth.

    Reply

  • I am pleased I am no longer in this age.

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  • And the worst part is that the non-default parent has no idea what it means to be the default parent.

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  • This does not change as the kids get older, but only worsens. I’m also the default parent for my husband when he can’t find something! It’s a tough gig, but apparently only I can do it!!!! Arrrggghh.

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  • Even now that my boys have become adults I still get asked where things are. Unfortunately I don’t think it will ever change and, frankly, I love that idea. It’s nice to still feel wanted by my kids and I never want to lose that

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  • Oh yes I’m definitely the default parent and it’s a honor and joy to be so !

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  • Loved being a hands on parent – but I locked the door if I was in the shower or in the toilet once my little ones could walk. Nothing happened to them – they are fine and healthy adults now and I had some private time.

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  • This article really sums up ‘A Day In the Life of A Stay At Home Parent’ – adding to the – every shower is interrupted, even every toilet visit is also interrupted!! But yeah wouldn’t change a thing in being the first point of call the kids make. :-)

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  • Yep, yep, yep! A lot of this is unseen too so I think Husbands (or wives if the Husband is the default parent) can forget how much we actually do. Often my Husband will be watching TV or playing a video game and the kids will still come to me for food or a drink even though I’m busy studying etc. because apparently “Dad’s busy.”

    Reply

  • Yes, I understand completely, I am usually the default parent.

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  • Oh yes, very recognizable :) My husband and I talked a lot about this and now he takes more initiative in certain area’s, not so much in the direct care for the kids though…he just misses that

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  • My advice is to get or let your hubby to do more. If you keep on running around ragged nothing will change and all concerned will just allow you to continue. Lock the bathroom door and try saying ask dad for once. Hubby may not do things the way you do but sometimes you just have to let small things slip. Or simply show him how.

    Reply

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