Parent love labels. Well, here's ours: "Tag-Team Parenting".
While this jigsaw style helps young children spend more time with mom or dad, and also keeps them out of daycare, it can take its toll on a marriage.
This style of parenting can be common among freelancers; shift-workers; small business owners; and people who run their office out of their houses.
It can also become the prominent approach for this Television Producer/Director with a relatively flexible schedule, married to a fellow media member who signed on for permanent weekends more than a decade ago to be able to be home with the kids during the week.
It's made even more challenging when that TV Producer also becomes a Daddy Blogger.
Before our son was born, we were proud to establish a routine which favored raising a child at home and having that child looked at all times by either Mom or Dad.
I would make an effort to keep my schedule as Monday to Friday as possible; my wife signed on for permanent weekends. Saturday and Sunday would be my days at home with the kids.
Even more perfect when there are no kids yet.
Still, it seemed like an ideal balance even as my son began part-time pre-school at the age of three, and my daughter was still only a year old. They were two young children with simple needs.
As children grow older, their worlds expand and become more mature right alongside them.
Their friendships become more intertwined; their activities become more numerous; and their abilities to express their desires become more acute. Compounding this snowball effect is the increased difficulty to trick a child to believing whatever their parents say is true. For example, while a 2 year-old might shrug-off and forget:
"I called Johnny's mom, she says Johnny can't play today."
An 8 year-old will respond: "I didn't see you on the phone, can you call again tomorrow? Also, Johnny signed up for Build-a-Robot class after school. I want to do that, too. Everyone's doing it."
Now, our typical week involves each of us trying to squeeze in: groceries, house-cleaning, home repair, laundry, phone calls, bill-paying, kids activities, birthday parties, family visits, and play dates, writing, and trying to stay in shape, and a social life around these cockamamie work schedules which have one or both of us either starting work early in the morning; late at night; on the weekend; or all of the above.
In many ways, we are luckier than most. We have several family members and friends who are more than happy to babysit.
Unfortunately, we call upon these people most often to cover the hours when mine and my wife's work schedules overlap.
Rarely do we feel like calling them again for a date night, or even for a short meal in a nearby restaurant.
Even when baby-sitting is not required, one of us will try to do groceries or laundry in the morning after the kids are in school, but before we leave for work, in order to not leave for the person who may already be at the office. Or one of us will come home just after dinner, but just in time to take one of the kids to their activities.
Yes, the kids spend a lot of time with either Mom or Dad, but we have little time as a foursome. My wife and I have even less time as a twosome. That sacred hour between 9pm and 10pm - once the kids are in bed and lunches are made, but before we fall asleep on the couch - is precious.
We're often reminded by those close to us how difficult it is to catch us on the phone. This is because we are too busy before the kids go to bed, and can't be bothered answering once they're asleep.
With two kids, ages 8 and 5, we're told these are the "busy" years, which precede the "worry" years of parenting teenagers.
I wonder if that means the "quiet" years are decades away; once our kids have children of their own.
Of course, by then, our phone will ring, and we'll be asked to babysit.
Tag. We're it.