You might be thinking, what do I mean by the “preferred parent?” Instead of explaining it, I’ll just give you some examples of the ways this shows up in my household.
I am the preferred parent in my house. What this means is that I could be doing the dishes and my husband is sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing, and the kids will still come up to me and ask me to help them with something. This happens constantly.
This makes me feel a lot of pressure when I am home. It is like I am never “off duty” and my kids are always turning to me to assist them with anything. Whenever I decide to do anything for self care, I have to first check to see if the kids need anything from me in hopes that I can get something done without any interruptions. My husband does not have this problem and he doesn’t understand why I get so upset when I am interrupted while doing things for myself.
Since I was a stay at home mom, I have always been the parent that both kids prefer. I remember this being so draining on me when the kids were younger because I was so demanded. It meant that I always had to be the one to do the bed time routine, the one to calm the kids down in the event of a meltdown, and the one they asked for whenever they needed anything.
If I am having a hard time, so are the kids. If I am in a good mood and calm, the kids are as well, but if I am losing my shit, there is a very good chance my kids will have meltdowns. It doesn’t matter if my husband is home, I am basically fully in charge of how smooth or chaotic the house is on any given day.
In the event that one of the kids is having a hard time, I have to be the one to calm them down. Even if my husband tries, there is nobody that can calm my kids down better than me. What this means is that I always have to be patient and calm, which is not always an easy thing to do.
If I need a “mom break”, I have to leave my house in order to feel like I am no longer in demand. Even if I shut myself in my room, my kids will still find me and ask me for something. On the other hand, if my husband wants to take a “break”, all he has to do is make himself unavailable by doing anything else. If my kids see that he is busy, they leave him alone completely.
For a solid 4 years I resented the fact that I was the preferred parent. But what I am realizing now is how absolutely powerful that makes me in my house. I basically have control over the mood and vibe in the house at all times. I have noticed such a drastic change in the house as soon as I recognized this and made a conscious effort to be an optimistic, caring, and kind mom. Sometimes it is tough to have so much power, but for me, I am relishing in it and enjoying the fact that I have the ability to lift my kids’ moods up every single day.