34 Weeks: Dads Don’t Sit

If you’ve ever been in the room when someone says “my husband is going to babysit” then you might have experienced some ruffled fathers feathers. Using the word dad and “babysit” in the same sentence wasn’t something that I might have known not to say before becoming pregnant, but I’ve heard women respond with a number of times: “Dads don’t babysit; they parent!”

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I totally get this. “Babysit” implies that they are only a temporary supervisor of their own child and perhaps not very involved in caring for the baby either emotionally or time wise. And it also implies that we women are somehow primary and the dads secondary in importance. Obviously this is not so! Dads are 50% of the parenting team, even if their jobs or lack of breasts keep them from spending 50% of the baby’s time with them.

I do understand why this phrase slips out of people’s mouths though. Based on the fact that women have breasts and the way our society evolved (which is thankfully changing – go women!), women are more often the full-time caretakers while stay-at-home dads are less common. But we all know this is just a stereotype and many families do things in whatever way works for them. It’s all about personal situations and what works in your household. Sometimes there are two dads or two moms!

So my question is this: if you are the stay-at-home mom OR dad talking, then anytime anyone else cares for your baby, the word “babysit” makes sense. But if this word now has a negative connotation, what can we use instead?

Matt is going to parent the baby this afternoon while I go for a run?

Matt is going to watch the baby this morning while I go to the grocery store?

Matt is going to father the baby tonight when I go out with my girlfriends?

Matt is going to care for the baby tomorrow when I go to the dentist.

Care seems the most appropriate to me, but is it all that different from “babysit”? I would expect that anytime only one of us is available we would use singular language like watch or care for.

Since I’m the author of this blog, I’ll be writing from my perspective. And I will be the primary caretaker time-wise due to our jobs. So if I say that Matt is going to watch the baby, I don’t want to be politically incorrect when I talk about our tag-team roles in parenting. And it seems significant to me to note that Matt will be the one watching the baby rather than someone else, so I don’t want to never write this at all. I want people to understand that if I say “Matt is going to watch the baby” it just means because I am going to do something else and not because he isn’t a good dad.

So my question for you all is – what would you say!? What’s the proper thing to say? Any more suggestions in best language practice?

 

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171 thoughts on “34 Weeks: Dads Don’t Sit”

  1. All seems to confusing…why not…Matt will hang with B-Kerf while I’m off..blah blah blah… It seems that people get all in a twitter over the silliest things…

    1. I agree. I’m surprised that you’re even concerned what others think and wanting to be PC. It’s your family and your blog — no one else’s. Write how you want to write.

  2. I tend to say that my daughter is “with Daddy.” Someone will ask, “Where’s the baby?” and I say “She is with Daddy today/tonight/etc.”

        1. I agree- baby is with Dad/Matt. He’s not with you so the next obvious option would be with Dad anyway!

          1. I use the same phrasing. The boys are with their daddy tonight-or I say they are having a boys night.

            1. The babysit thing is a huge pet peeve of mine. Huge. Dads do not babysit. I agree with ‘watch’ or ‘hang out’ bc that’s what I do when im in charge.

              1. Yes, I usually just describe what my kids and husband are doing when they aren’t with me. “Husband is at home with kids” or “Husband took kids to the zoo” or whatever..

                1. I usually say ‘with daddy’ or I say ‘Ben is going to watch her while I…’

                  But I’ve never really thought about this either!!

                  1. Agreed. I use “with”. My husband accidentally told someone he was going to babysit our daughter when she was first born, and I almost lost my mind…hormones didn’t help!

          1. So interesting – if I heard someone say the baby was “with their dad” that night I’d assume they were separated or divorced. Maybe bc that’s the same language used? Obviously anyone who really knows you would know this isn’t the case though.

            Sigh, I’d probably be really snappy and say “Where do you think?!” or “I have no idea! Do you know?” It really peeves me that it’s even a question, when guys out without kids are rarely asked this question (my assumption). So yeah, I’d probably start an argument.

            (Not a parent. yet. 😉

            1. Sam! I thought that at first too! But, if you’re talking to someone you know they’d probably be in the know about a separation.

              Part of me thinks this is really interesting from a linguistics/semantics point of view, but part of me thinks it’s really not a big deal and that most people probably wouldn’t notice (unless you said “babysit”- I totally get the problem there).

        2. That’s what I say, too, however, it’s really more like he’s babysitting our son, because he only does that when the little guy is awake and happy/fed/freshly diapered, etc. 🙁
          I think he really is afraid of taking charge in taking care of our son, and he is almost 11 months old.

      1. I agree with all the “with”s! I’m not a parent, but I can imagine I would just say with or “they [dad + baby] are hanging out today”

        1. Yep! When someone asks me I always say they are, with their Dad. Besides a babysitter keeps the house MUCH nicer than my husband does when he has the kids 😉

      2. I always said “with.” All the rest is implied–caring for, feeding, changing diapers, watching over…

        1. With is my vote. Where is baby? With his father. Gives an answer without implying that the fathers job is temporary, which is what babysit implies (to me).

      3. We tend to use “with” as well. I’ll sometimes say hanging out with too.

        If someone asks me if I can do something, I’ll usually respond, “I need to make sure that Steve and Dominic will be okay without me that day.” Or, more typically, “Let me make sure Steve hasn’t made other plans!”

  3. I think you will hit a nerve with this one on both sides of the argument! but this is one of my pet peeves, especially when the mother acts like they feel bad or as if they are putting the husband out to watch their own kid!!! Usually I just say my son will “be with” my husband when I am referring to me doing soemthing else alone, rather than saying my husband will be babysitting or watching him….I am lucky to have a husband that truly treats parenting as an equal job – we both work full time so we both have limited time to get things done. I will say from the get go a lot of the essential tasks fell to me – I buy his clothes, I worry about his food, buy it, buy the diapers, etc but I think that’s just a mom thing….

  4. I think babysit isn’t the right term because it implies he’s doing a job a teenager could do, when he is in fact the father. And, the word babysit has that part-time job feel to it. I think that you could say that Matt is going to spend some quality time or one-on-one time with the baby while you’re away. Or, care or watch the baby is fine. Just like you would say that you are going to watch/care for the baby while Matt goes for a run in the morning or goes to the bakery. But, I can see why babysit would be offensive to dads. It kind of belittles their time spent with the baby.

  5. Maybe just even eschewing the semantics for care-taking, but saying something along the lines of “Matt and the baby were ‘doing such and such together’ while I was out” — focus on the activity. What I am trying to get at is describe what they are doing together – the 2-way interaction between baby and father, instead of the one-way description of what the father is doing?

    I completely agree with your interpretation of parenting being a 50-50 role between mother and father. I know a new father who continually asserts and attitude of “the baby is the mother’s/woman’s responsibility” — it irks me to no end!

          1. There isn’t always some kind of activity though! We also use “with” (I work part time and although we do have child care, my work requires some nights and weekends), and there isn’t always a trip to the museum or the zoo. Sometimes its the drudgery of housework and dinner, with just the standard play at home – blocks, books, coloring, park time. If I made a point of saying what they were doing every time I was with them, I’d sound nuts.

  6. I usually just say something like “He’s home with Dad” when people ask me about the baby when I’m out and about. I don’t think I made a conscious decision to say that, it’s just what it is, haha. I really am bothered when people say things like “Oh your husband is on Daddy Duty” as if they are only parenting when the mom isn’t around and all the other times they are just off being Men doing Manly things.

    1. This is a good topic, Kath.

      I say the same – baby’s home playing with Daddy. Sometimes I feel like people have such low expectations for fathers – they’ll say that they’re “impressed” that my husband is home with the baby for 3 hours. He’s the daddy – and an amazing father at that – sometimes men don’t get the credit they are due when people use the terms babysit, etc.

  7. Ugh, my inlaws always said that about my brother-in-law with my neice. Drove me insane, but unfortunately it was pretty accurate – he’s a pretty uninvolved parent, so he basically did babysit. Sad!

    I find myself saying “have” or “keep” when I talk about what’s going to be our arrangement when the baby comes. Like “My husband is taking these days off work regularly so he’ll have the baby while I’m working,” or “I only work weekdays so I’ll have the baby Friday to Sunday.” And keep for other care givers – “My aunt might keep the baby once a week.” I never really thought about why I say that, but I guess I like it because it implies that the baby will always be cared for. We are all family and I believe it takes a village, so while the baby will have 2 parents, all the adults involve will be caretakers…so it’s just a matter of who ‘has’ or is ‘keeping’ the baby that particular day to care for. Does that make any sense at all?!

  8. I like “with” too and I was going to say I’d probably say “Husband is going to watch the baby” I wouldn’t say babysit either because if you turn it the other way around our husbands would probably never say “so and so is going to babysit” when they’re talking about us! haha Sounds so weird.

  9. I’d agree with you…though the most natural for me would be …to watch…even though care for sounds much better. Though in some ways the issue shouldn’t come up. I’d naturally assume if a stay at home mother is out without the child and her other half then they are the ones looking after the child or children unless otherwise specified if you know what I mean! 🙂 Maybe…”Matt is performing Daddy duties..” might be a fun way to put it!

  10. just swap “matt” and “kath” in your examples and see if it works.

    “Kath is watching the baby while Matt goes to the store.” … yes!
    “Kath is babysitting while Matt goes for a run” … nope!

    Parents don’t babysit. It’s sexist, and also, it’s offensive to fathers, and furthers the stereotype that caring for children is a woman’s job. Same deal with the term “daddy day care”, “manny” (male nanny), etc.

    1. This is a perfect way to say it. Even if one of you is going to be the “primary caregiver”, there will be times when Matt will be alone with the baby. You would never think of yourself as “babysitting”, so a dad shouldn’t be looked at in this way either.

      When I go out with friends and my husband is home w/my son…I will literally say, “Jim is home w/Tommy.” I think the “watching” part at that point is implied.

  11. My sister also always says Lydia (my neice) is “with” Oliver (brother in law).

    As a side note, I always appreciate how socially aware you are, Kath. Your blog and your writing consistently demonstrate a recognition as well as respect for social, economic, lifestyle (and so forth) differences and circumstances and I think the world could use a little more of that. Cheers to you!

  12. Good topic. I am an at home mom of three (now older – 30, 19 and 11) My spouse never babysat his kids. Im sure I have been asked if “dad is babysitting the kids” over the years. lol. A simple, The Baby is with Matt is all that is needed. Or, around friends, Matt and the baby are mowing the yard, walking to the bakery, etc…. He is by nature of being dad caring, watching and hopefully spending quality time with the baby while he is with him.

  13. I am so glad you brought this up because I probably would have made the same mistake of saying babysit. I think I will try to use terminology like Alex is with the baby or Alex has the baby when I’m not around or out with friends. I don’t want it to sounds so formal but more natural, because that is what it will be like for Alex.

  14. hmmm….I think I say with, watching, or taking. I’m a SAHM so I’m the primary caregiver. My husband is wonderful with the kids, but I do think that since I’m the one around most of the time and used to juggling children with housework, meals, etc, it is like he is babysitting when I’m gone. He gets to do more fun stuff with them and isn’t worried about getting meals ready or switching the laundry. It’s just different roles – both of equal importance! That’s why we have moms AND dads. Every family is different!

  15. I would just say “with” if someone asks where the baby is. Where’s the baby? Oh, he’s home with Matt. I don’t think you really need to bring it up otherwise. Why wouldn’t the baby be home with his own father? I’m not a parent, but I still think it’s weird when people say that their husband is babysitting or something to that effect.

      1. Oh yeah…I wasn’t asking why he wouldn’t be home with his father. I guess I should have put it in quotes. Like it would be weird for people to be surprised by that.

  16. I agree with Jessica and Lauri.
    If you’re out doing something then the baby will either be hanging out with dad/grandma/babysitter/friend. I guess I always just assume that if someone is “with” a baby, they’re caring for the baby.
    It does bother me when people say the dad is babysitting. I would think dads would get upset too since the term seems to minimize the role they have in their child’s life.

  17. Dads “babysitting” is a pet peeve of mine, even moreso when the term is used by the dad himself! My husband agrees. He is a super involved dad and he would be greatly offended if anyone inferred that he was “babysitting” his own children. Parenting is a shared experience in our house and certainly not solely my responsibility, even though I am a SAHM.

    If I am out without the kids and anyone asks, I say the kids are “hanging out with their Didi”. (Our kids are almost 8 and 5 and they call their dad Didi and always have.) But other than totally avoiding the word “babysitting”, the terms are not really a big deal to us.

  18. My husband works two weeks on and two weeks off. When he is home, he is the caregiver. It used to make people do mad when I would say that he was babysitting the kids! So I started saying that he “watches” them. Personally, I think that sounds just as bad.

    On a side note, how do you feel about the stay-at- home mom title. I think that has a lot of negative connotations. I stayed home for a year and could not believe the number of people who thought I did nothing! As a teacher, I have the opportunit to stay at home during the summers and it is a much harder job than many think!

    1. I don’t think “stay at home” implies not working, but I agree people do assume it’s all soap operas and toys. (hmmmm similar to how they think that bloggers just sit around all day…) multitasking does not equal relaxing. Other titles for SAHM could be a whole new debate!

      1. I like how Jen, at This Runner’s Trials, uses WAHM – Work at Home Mom! That’d work for you, since you are still working.

  19. I think I usually say that my husband is watching the kids. I would probably only use “babysitting” if I were referring to someone outside of the family. However, you’ve got me thinking now. To say that he is “watching” the kids feels a lot like saying “babysitting.”

    I do like the suggestion of “be with” so far. I think I’ll have to adopt that one. 🙂

    What a great topic to bring up for discussion.

    Great topic to bring up.

  20. Because we have a boy until our new baby is born I’ll often say John and my son are having boy time or boys night or hanging out. Sometimes I use the term that the husband is on babysitting duty and I never mean it in a bad way at all my husband is involved as much as I am an I really just mean he’s on his own because we don’t do too many separate activities. Boy time is my favourite and the one I use with his grandfather too who ‘babysits’ him often.

  21. I’m another one that prefers “with” when my son is at home with dad. We both work full-time jobs, so for the most part our time is equal with our son. I get home a couple hours earlier to spend some extra time with my son, but when my husband gets home we swap out and he spends some one-on-one time while I make dinner and then afterwards it’s family time together. We both view our parenting roles as equal partners, so there are never any babysitting references. : )

    I will say I have known some fathers that actually refer to the times they watch their children as babysitting. Usually it’s in jest, but there are times it seems like some legitimately feel like that’s the case.

  22. it’s such a HUGE pet peeve of mine when people say a child’s father is babysitting!! you’re exactly right–they’re parenting, not babysitting…I usually go with what others said: she’s WITH her daddy tonight.

  23. What about “Stay”? Matt is staying with the baby.
    I like it because it works for you, too. “Kath is staying home with the baby.”

    Or what about making it about doing things together: “The baby & Matt are home tonight.” or “Matt & the baby are running to the grocery store.” and “Kath and the baby went to the park.”

  24. I think the baby being with the father is similar as people would refer to the kid being watched by the grandparents. People typically also don’t say the grandparents babysit, but ‘watch them’ or ‘they are with the grandparents” or “they are with my sister”. I think family is different, and fathers is double-different.

  25. Good topic. My husband is a wonderful dad and very present and helpful, and our parenting duties are shared as much as possible… but I am still the primary caretaker even though I also work full-time, by the simple nature of being “mama.” We trade off activity nights — Monday and Thurs are racquetball league for DH, and Tuesday and Thurs are Zumba classes for me. So I stay with Maya when he works out, and he stays with her while I do. We get a babysitter for Thursday nights to compensate for the overlap in our workouts. I don’t ever say Luis is going to babysit, but rather “watch” or “stay home with” Maya.

  26. i guess i don’t give it that much thought. i say, “my husband is watching the baby”, and it doesn’t seem to bother him or anyone else. we have an 8-month old sweet baby girl.

  27. I thnk you’re drastically overthinking this. Just say whatever comes naturally to you and it won’t sound “incorrect.”

    1. You would be surprised at how literally everything I say is taken sometimes! I’m just trying to prevent a fire before it starts when the baby comes. I know not to say babysit from observation of other women, but what else do I not know that I don’t know!?

      1. As a reader/friend/even acquaintance of a new mom, I would give her (including you), the benefit of the doubt, especially if I knew the intent behind the words (i.e., you are not sexist/you don’t think Matt will be uninvolved). I mean, I definitely see your point, and I agree with the underlying sentiment. I totally get anger towards sterotypical ideas, but the actual wording (babysit) seems like just semantics…? But I guess since you are a writer, words are more important. I guess sometimes I am just surprised at the things that people get irritated about (no offense to anyone else – I don’t have kids, so I’ve just never thought about it).

  28. I say “the kids are with” my husband or my husband “is watching” the kids. I NEVER say babysit. Now that I think about it, when I go out with friends (all moms) we say “will your husband be home in time to watch the kids”. Even when my husband and I go out, I generally say “my mom is watching them” or “my mom is with them”. I really only use ‘babysit’ if it is a paid babysitter. Or actually, the joke with some of my friends is that Dad is at home WITH the kids….so nobody is watching them…ha ha, obviously our kids are older.

  29. I always used “he is with Julie” or “watching Julie” because to me, babysitting meant that the baby was MY job and by “babysitting” he was helping ME. He wasn’t helping me do my job though, he was just being a parent.

  30. What about, ‘matt and baby are getting some one-on-one time while I….’ I guess what ‘ruffles feathers’ is the implication that the dad only cares for the kid if the mom isn’t around- like it’s a chore for them that they avoid at all costs. Hopefully dads parent/care/babysit the kid when mom is around too!

  31. “Matt is with the baby while I …” To me, that doesn’t imply that he only “cares” for the baby while you’re not around and “watch” is just another term for “sitting.”

    Although I am a little bit put off by the comments about dad’s lack of breasts as an excuse for him not being the primary caregiver. As someone who is not breastfeeding for a multitude of reasons (including a strong possibility of not being physically able to), I find this to be part of the “Mommy Wars” Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point has been talking about recently. Men have breasts too, they just don’t produce milk and a woman who has had a mastectomy or can not/ does not breastfeed should NOT be seen as any less of a primary caregiver than a breastfeeding mother. There is a lot more to motherhood than breastfeeding.

    1. I agree with you – but when we talk about humans, evolution and the roots our gender roles, breastfeeding is a big cause of them all. I often and thinking back thousands of years when I analyze why things might be so in our culture, and this is one of them. Here I’m stating that the reason these stereotypes exist is because of anatomy and history.

  32. I have a friend who ALWAYS says she has to ask her husband if he can babysit. And it has always annoyed me! I would say if he says the same thing to friends before making plans (I need to ask my wife if she can babysit) then it would be fine, but I would guess that he does not…

  33. If there is one thing that having a baby has taught me is that everyone seems to have an opinion about your choices – during pregnancy, once the baby comes etc. Even your choice of words.

    RE: working from home (in the comments above). I work from home half the time and I have my son in day care. Often when I drop him off I’m dressed casually or (most days) for the gym. Today his teacher asked me if I was back to work yet. I’m assuming because of my outfit. But he’s in day care because I truly am WORKING and he’s far too cute and distracting for me to get a thing done.

    RE: Dad’s babysitting….ummm no. That’s not what they do. You would never say a child’s mother is “babysitting” unless you were talking about her caring for someone else’s kids.

    But I think it’s possible to over think the whole thing. I would basically use any word other than “babysit” and call it a day. In the end – you and your husband know what you mean when you say (insert choice here) and everyone else’s opinion shouldn’t matter.

  34. Simply say, “Matt and *insert baby’s name* stayed at home while I went to the grocery store.” I think it acknowledges the baby more than saying he is with or he is watching.

  35. Yeah if my hubs is with the kids and I’m somewhere else people ask where they are and I say “Shane is taking care of them.” Just like when I’m home, I take care of them!

    I am a stay at home mom and often want to give my husband time to spend with the kids without doing the hard stuff so he can just enjoy them….hard stuff being diaper changes, discipline, etc. However, I have learned that the hard stuff is a part of the experience and it makes your relationship with the child stronger. When the baby is an infant the dad definitely is secondary simply because he doesn’t have boobs but that’s a very short period and as the child grows, the dad is needed much more.

  36. I would just say that the baby is going to “be” with Matt. Because let’s say that your sister, or your mother or Karen is watching the baby. Even though they would be in more of a “sitting” position, I’m assuming that the level of care they would provide your child would be very nearly as watchful/loving/caring as the care you or Matt would provide. They are your blood and will love that pup as if it were their own. So in those instances I would indicate that the baby would be with them as well.

    Plus you’re probably never going to say that you spent the day mothering/parenting your child either! You’ll be with them.

  37. I think it’s the word babysit specifically that bothers me. Watch, stay with, care, hang out, all work. It’s just babysit is so associated with an outside caregiver that it doesn’t seem right to use in conjunction with a dad. It implies that he’s not interacting with the baby otherwise or that its not parent of his regular duty of parenthood.

  38. I have strong feelings when someone says babysit about a dad too! For me, we say things like my husband is going to watch my daughter or he is going to take care of her. For example, I have to travel for work so I tell people when they ask who will take care of the baby, “my husband takes care of her.” Same as saying something like “I am going to take care of her while he’s gone at the race.”

  39. I’ll either say ‘Beatrice is with Aaron’, or they’re having a ‘daughter-daddy day’, or more specific like ‘my husband is taking her out for the day’..

  40. I think I would phrase it as “Matt and the baby stayed at home” or “Matt took the baby to the park.” As another commenter mentioned, you wouldn’t talk about yourself (primary caregiver) by saying that you spent the day parenting or watching the baby. As a parent, I think that it is assumed that you’re taking care of the baby when it’s with you. So I’d focus more on what they were doing together while you were doing your activity.

  41. I say that they are doing “dude stuff.” We’ve called the little guy “dude” since he was tiny. Hubby equates dude stuff to hanging out. He saw something on TV once – where it was mentioned that dude stuff is making chili and hanging out in your underwear. Hubby works from home and watches him while I’m at work – so they do their thing. There are many days when I come home from work and Christopher is in his diaper and a t-shirt. Makes me laugh every time!

  42. I will say that I don’t have a negative association with the word babysit, and I wouldn’t mind if my time with the baby were described this way. I can understand why it has associations of temporality or inexperienced care, but it’s just such a convenient word too! Maybe I feel this way because I’ve never babysat before, but I guarantee I will use the word babysit to describe myself at times.

    I’m thinking right now what the word means to me, and its main connotation is of individual time spent with child, especially when at home. However, when I think of us going out in the world and having father-son time, “babysit” doesn’t come to mind.

    One assured fact is that no matter what word you use some weiner will misinterpret it!

  43. When my sisters and I were kids we always asked my mom if dad was “babysitting”. Both my parents worked, mom almost full time and Dad over full time, Mom used to get so annoyed when we said that! We still joke about it years later.
    I think we said it like that because when he was “watching” us, he was right there with us…engaging us, playing games, making easy meals with us. Part of the reason he was so hands on was that he probably didn’t’ know how well we could entertain ourselves. It was more like having a babysitter around than my mom. My poor mom was probably too busy getting all the background tasks done that help a family run smoothly.

  44. It’s all about tag-teaming. Dad is home with baby while mom is out, mom is home while dad is at work. No big deal. I am lucky to have an involved husband too, makes all the difference!

  45. If I’m baby-free and someone says “Oh, is your husband babysitting,” I say with a big, friendly smile, “No, he’s parenting!” It’s amazing what you can say if you have a pleasant smile and a pleasant tone. They usually kind of chuckle and, I like to think, get the message.

  46. Since we both work and I have a lot of afternoon/evening functions I always say “She is home with dad tonight” or “Dad is watching her” because when I stay home with her I am not babysitting her I am with her or watching her. Babysitting is really a temporary thing and our nanny babysits!

  47. Generally I just say “Dad’s on duty right now…” or the “Daddy’s with him” (as others have stated). Don’t sweat it either way, we know what you mean! 🙂

  48. Maybe this has been written already because I haven’t gone through any of the comments, but my mom would always say of my father “Bob is with the kids tonight.”

    🙂

  49. I should have read your other replies first; I apologize if this sentiment has already been expressed. Why does it matter that you clarify who the baby is with? If you mention that you ran out alone to do something, isn’t it implied that the baby is with the other parent? The only time I’d clarify is if the baby is spending time with a grandparent or other extended family for fun visits. What’s the big deal with having to get into such minutiae in your life?

    1. In general it doesn’t matter – but if I’m going to do something unexpected and DO want to say who is going to care for the baby, which inevitably will happen since I write a blog, then I thought it would be interesting to discuss the different ways to phrase this scenario.

    2. Not to be a you-know-what … but if Kath did not discuss these things, then there would not be a blog. Why read it if simple discussions are going to inspire so much scrutiny (and, sometimes, negativity)? I’m not a mother, nor do I plan to be – but I find these issues surrounding parents and pregnancy to be so interesting.

      Just finding some of these anti-topic comments to be a little … strange. But what do I know? That’s just my two cents. 🙂

      1. Hmm, anti-topic? I’m confused by your last sentence. My comment was meant to support Kath in what she chooses to write about. Sorry that you took offense.

        1. WOW, I TOTALLY misread your post then! I thought you were essentially saying the post was ridiculous and discussing “minutiae” details were unnecessary. Please accept my apologies. Sorry, sweets!

          My dad had a stroke on Thursday and I guess I’m feeling a wee bit sensitive about how people treat others. Not that I’m trying to make any excuses, but this is a good lesson for me to be more careful and not assume things. Again, sorry about that.

  50. I am not a parent yet, but I really enjoyed this post, Kath. So often our word choice indicates our values and also informs social norms. I really think “with” is a perfect solution. It provides basic information (who is caring for your child) while recognizing the importance of a father’s position as parent and balancing the playing field between you both.

  51. I think if someone asks you “where’s the baby?” you should respond:

    “OH MY GOSH!!!! Where IS my baby???!!!” And then walk away in a hurry. 😉

  52. Whatever you choose I’m sure you’ll tick someone off. 🙂 This has never even entered in my mind as an issue but trust me–someone will take issue. LOL

  53. I just say that my husband is with our son as it’s just as easy to say that I’m with him. However, I don’t really get hung up about it. As long as the child isn’t alone in a cart in the grocery parking lot, my husband can call his role whatever he wants.

  54. What doesn’t matter what other people think? It is just words. When Matt is home with the baby he is home with the baby and watching him. It’s only words, so it’s NBD.

  55. What would Matt say to somebody if they were to ask where you were or the baby. I would guess he mIght respond she is at home or mom and baby are out, visiting or x, y and z. Using words like care, babysit, watch, etc connotates something less than being a parent. I think people expect the baby to attached to you in terms of nutrition, but I would be surprised if Matt did not fulfill other parenting roles such as sooothing little man so that you can shower or rest. the list goes on of the possibilities of how parenting will be delineated and it will be constantly changing. I guess what I’m trying to say is–use phrases that empower Matt as the father.

  56. I would say “the baby is with” my husband. Just like if, for example, I was on the phone with someone and they asked me “where is the baby” – I wouldn’t say I’m caring for, watching, babysitting, etc., I would say “the baby is with me”.

  57. “Matt’s t-shirts were jealous of the baby barf mine were getting and asked if they could have a turn”

    Or

    “The baby was playing so nicely with pumpkin I just thought I’d run out really quick”

  58. We also use “the baby is with…” when describing either of us.

    My husband stays home with our daughter, and he never refers to me as “babysitting” when I’m home with her. I hate the term babysit when used for a parent.

  59. Dads babysitting is up there with ‘We’re pregnant’ on the annoying parenting phrases for me. To be honest unless you posted about both of you being somewhere without the baby I would always assume that he was with Matt. Even if you had gone out together I don’t think I would question where the baby was. 99% of parents are responsible enough to provide care for their children and I would never put you in the 1% that doesn’t.

    Don’t worry about it too much. You’ll never make all the internet crazies happy so just write what feels natural to you.

  60. I don’t think you have to explain to the world about who is watching your baby. Heck if your baby doesn’t make an appearance on the blog for a while I would hope no one would worry about him. It’s just a matter of you deciding to give your baby some privacy.

    My husband can’t wait to get some one-on-one time with our baby. And I think it’s important for them to bond without my constant intervention. I would absolutely expect you to take some time to yourself, so Matt can have quality bonding time with your baby too 🙂

  61. I’m one of those people who gets a bit ranty when a dad says he is “babysitting” his child/ren. I just tend to say “Matt is watching William this afternoon” or if a friend asks me out for an afternoon without children “oh I’m sure Matt will be free and have William!” I’m lucky that Matt works from home so he does 50% of the parenting and child “watching” and is usually free enough to be sole parent now and then while I am out and about alone.

    1. just realised the word watching sounds a little like he is babysitting actually lol. Maybe for me it’s the intention behind the word used. In terms of watching I mean caring for…I guess some people might mean something slightly different when using it. Ok…rambling now! 😉

  62. I think it is hilarious that blog readers respond so literally – and PERSONALLY – to posts, as if you are insulting them to their face.

    On the lighter side, what if you also use the term “babysitting” when speaking about yourself? If a girlfriend ask you to hang out, but you can’t becuase the baby has to sleep (etc…) and Matt isn’t home, isn’t the “natural” and funny response: “I can’t, I’m on babysitting duty!”

  63. I don’t have a child, but I do have an interesting insight! Growing up my dad stayed at home with me and my brother and my mom worked full time. Nobody ever referred to my mother as a ‘babysitter’ when she stayed home with us. I probably heard ‘She has the kids today’ or ‘He has the baby today’ more often.

  64. I think you’re thinking way too much about this. We both say “You watch the kids” when the other goes out. No big deal.

  65. I personally find it kind of stupid that people get upset about that stuff. It’s just a word! Just because someone babysits doesnt mean they dont teach the child something, anyway. I sometimes call my husband ‘babysitting Pepper’ when he watches her, but there’s no underlying meaning behind it. To me, it’s interchangeable with ‘watching’, ‘looking after’, ‘being a daddy’. Besides, as much as Id like to say that every day is a learning opportunity for her, blah blah blah, some days it really is just babysitting. As in, he plays on the laptop while she watches TV. Thats life! Haha. So say whatever you want, only YOU and Matt know what it really means, and he’s your baby!

    Also, I had a dream last night that you named the baby Finn!

  66. I always say “watch”…but I would say the same for myself. I have a hand’s on husband…so the words don’t really matter.

  67. Ahhh, as an English major who has spent so much time analyzing the significance and difference of certain words I absolutely love this conversation.
    I think that “with” is the easiest, but it definitely does conjure up images of a divorce situation. Another one that I like is “It’s Matt’s turn.” Or “It’s my/Kath’s turn.” While that does kind of downplay the idea of you both being able to parent at the same time, it highlights the fact that you two are going to be equal parents. When one thinks of “turns” they generally think of fairness and equality, so that might work.

  68. We use P.O.D. for Parent on Duty. ‘Course my parents don’t get it and still ask if my husband will be “babysitting” if I am away from our child but we are working on the generational adjustment!

  69. I think “with”. The more cutesy words used to express it, the more unnecessary emphasis it gives the fact that Dad was just doing what Dads are supposed to do: parenting, caring, doing their 50%, etc. It may be offensive to involved, caring fathers to call them babysitters, but it also lets fathers who aren’t doing their fair share as parents off the hook when we make a big, praising fuss over their time spent parenting by themselves. (And this is not directed at Matt, or anyone in particular. Just an observation. But words do matter.)

    I wonder, when men with newborn children write online, do they feel compelled (either from their own writerly need to be specific, or from societal pressure) to clarify where their children are every time they mention running an errand? I’m thinking not, but I’m genuinely curious. (And, believe me, Kath, I understand why you DO feel there will be a need to clarify!)

    1. I guess my whole point in this discussion wasn’t that I had to say where my baby was the whole time, but more answering the question: “What language should I use when talking about the future?” I think if Matt and I had a regular day-swap kind of schedule, he might write “This Tuesday instead of watching the baby Kath is going to [not babysit!] care for him while I work a farmer’s market.”

      I think this whole post was sort of made into a mountain from a molehill : )

      1. This kind of gets at how I would answer the original question. How would Matt tell someone where the baby was if YOU were taking care of him? I never had to make an effort to think of what to say with my baby and his dad, though. I think you might find that if it’s just a normal part of the routine for Matt to spend time with the baby without you, the word “babysit” probably won’t even come into your mind.

  70. I guess I’m a little confused as to why you need to make an affirmative statement as to where your child is in reference to your husband at all…when the subject of your sentence is really simply you.

    How about:
    This afternoon I’m going for a run.
    This morning I’m going to the grocery store.
    Tonight I’m going out with my girlfriends.
    Tomorrow I’m going to the dentist.

    If questions are asked about where Kerfy is, you can then let someone know she’s with her pa.

    The “babysitting” term most certainly is condescending when referencing a parent, in my view. But I guess for one of the attachment parenting moms who never wants to part, then anyone other than the mom being within 3 feet of the child probably does constitute “babysitting”, or rather “neglect.”

    1. But the whole point of this discussion is that it’s a time when I WOULD be talking about the baby. Switching things up from normal. “I’m excited to be going to the dentist today because Matt is free from work to ___ the baby.”

      1. Sincere question: would you be indifferent to your husband saying he was excited to be going out to the bar because “Kath is going to be babysitting Kerfy tonight”?

        1. I don’t think he would word it that way – and we’ve already said babysitting is not really the right word.

          If he wrote “Just spent the whole day with my son – swapping him with my wife for a night out with the guys” I wouldn’t be bothered.

  71. We say, in our house, “I got this, or You’ve got this.” So if someone asks where mine are, I say “Brian’s got it handled.”
    But even my husband has said “I’ll babysit” a time or two, so really I don’t think it matters. It just means you are in charge… And it matters, right now, cause I’m still breastfeeding with a one year old that only wants to drink her mama milk. My husband does feel, in a sense, that he takes less (only slightly) of a role in parenting the baby, because of that.
    I meant to post earlier in the week, but BTW, I freaking LOVE breastfeeding. I hope you do too! 🙂
    Advice? Lanolin. Often.:)

  72. kath,
    i love what your hubby said. Matt, you rock.
    You guys are going to be awesome and say whatever the heck you want. i know that sweet boy will be loved so much! shoot.. why do people get their undies in a bunch over things, huh? hehe.

    God is great.
    Beer is good.
    and people are crazy.

    just play that song if people get all crazy. 😀

    you could always say… “he is baking with Dad.”

  73. i often say the kids have a “daddy date” which makes it sound more fun to them (since sometimes they are sad i am going out), and also implies something special for them with daddy.

  74. Although it’s been a long time since my “baby” was a baby, I would say something like, “Dad is caring for the baby,” or “tending to” the baby, when the baby is very young. When the baby is older/walking, I would say “They’re hanging out together.” Just a thought.

  75. I love this post 🙂 I definitley believe that a husband and wife are both parents and while women have a few extra roles such as breastfeeding and pumping, those extra roles should not ultimatley make the woman more of the parent than the father. God made women and men different for a reason and it’s no mistake! 🙂 I dont have children yet but husband and I have tried for almost 3 years, however right now I have to put my health first and put a bookmark in the baby making journey for the time being before resuming trying again. Ive saturated myself with baby/parent related info for awhile now and this subject as definitley crossed my mind. Im thankful that my husband and I both look at each other as equal future parents to our child that we are hopefully someday blessed with.

  76. This is something that has actually come up a lot of my husband and I with our 6 month old. He is a golf pro so he works weekends and he is off 2 days during the week. When I went back to work people always asked where the baby was. I tended to say it was a daddy-baby day or daddy-baby time when I was at the gym. I also used “with” but I think the other 100 people covered that LOL. This isn’t something that bothered me per say but it just didn’t feel natural to me to say he babysat bc he was the dad.

    Now I will give you a heads up on something that did bother me that I never thought about until after Bradley was born… people referring to him as “theirs”. My mom was the worst offender of this, I think because she lives either 4 or 20 hours away (depending on the month- they are snowbirds) and it was her first grandchild and she was just very excited. She kept calling him “my boy” etc. and it drove me crazy that I had to nicely say something.

    1. Interesting! My mom does say “MY grandson” a lot, but at least she’s noting the relationship properly : )

  77. Hmmm, I’d probably say “Matt is going to be home with,” because if someone asked Matt where you were and you were at home with baby I’d assume his response would be something along those lines rather than “Kath is caring for our baby,” or “Kath is watching our baby.”

  78. It sort of amazes me how uptight people can get about terminology and “political correctness” – why does it matter what you call it as long as father spends time with his child? Back in the ’80s, my dad “babysat” me all the time, and he even called it that. I know that was a long time ago, but I’m not sure why the terminology has changed or people have become so touchy.

  79. I’m another parent who uses “with.” My husband and I both say that when someone asks one of us where our kids are. Of course, I’m usually the one who gets asked more than him because, as is the case, most people expect them to automatically be with me since I’m the mother.

    One way to figure it out is to ask Matt what he plans to say when someone asks him where the baby is. Will he say “Kath is babysitting,” or will he say “The baby is with Kath, or will he say something else?

  80. I usually say one of a few things…
    Bob is in charge of Lara tonight.
    Bob is taking care of Lara tonight.
    Bob is home with Lara tonight.

  81. OK, I don’t have children, so I have zero experience with this. But in my mind, saying something like, “Matt’s on baby duty” or “Matt is looking after him” or “Matt has Jr… today” etc. etc. should be fine.

    Or you could throw people off altogether. When they ask, “where is the baby?” or “Who has the baby?” you could just look at them blankly and say, “I KNEW I had forgotten something.”

    That seemed funnier in my head than it turned out but I’m sticking with it!

  82. In DR we don’t have this problem; people are not that sensitive to your choice of words, so in Spanish we use the equivalent to “take care of”

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