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Fatherly Advice: Fancy Baby Monitors Make for Nervous Parents

Struggling with finding me time? Maybe it’s time to redefine what makes you feel better about the world, and also maybe look for help from your partner in baby making.

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“Fatherly Advice” is a weekly parenting advice column by the experts at Fatherly. Need hard-won insights and scientific facts to resolve a parenting dilemma or family dispute? Email advice@fatherly.com. Need justifications for parenting decisions you’ve already made? Ask someone else. We’re far too busy for that nonsense.

 

Fatherly,

My wife and I just moved cross country and I started a new job while she is forgoing employment to stay at home to care for our 1-year-old. When I am off work and at home, I can’t bring myself to ask my wife for the time I need to do things for myself. I work 12-hour days and on those days I wake up before my son does and come home after he’s been put to bed. When I am off work and at home I am with my son and feel quite obligated to give my wife as much time as she needs or wants to do things for herself. Trouble is, this is leaving no room for me and it’s starting to take a toll. Any advice?

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Robert,
The Internet

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In my experience, misery loves company. I hope it will make you feel better to know that your story is neither special or unique. What we’ve got here is a classic case of struggling with work/life balance. Consider it a rite of passage. A terrible one, but still … your instincts are sound. You want to spend the time at home with your kid. You apparently enjoy and crave that time. Great. This begs the question: How is that time not for you? I mean, I get that you being with your kid is also for your kid, but isn’t it a very fun and cool thing for you too?

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At the core of this problem, it will help if you shift your definition of “me time”. Sure, it may have once been a round of golf, or beers with the guys, or a pedicure and facial (I don’t know your life), but now it might be heading to the park with your son. That’s okay. Things change.

I get the feeling that you’re stressed by your role as breadwinner. I get that you are deeply concerned about your wife’s stress too. That is very good and noble of you. But regardless of who is doing what when, you need to remember y’all are a team. So, act like a team. You said “you can’t bring yourself” to ask your wife for time? That’s worrisome, man. You need to communicate. It doesn’t need to be some heavy This is Us conversation, either. You guys like each other enough to make a kid together, so presumably you guys like each other enough to find a compromise. But you’ll never know until you talk. So, do that.

To be completely honest, finding a sense of balance will neither be fun or comfortable. It will be difficult and sucky. But that’s how change is. Just talk to your wife and understand that sometimes the best self-care happens when you’re being selfless.

 

Hey Fatherly,

How do I properly use the baby monitor? Our bedroom is upstairs and across the house from our daughter. So far I have been sleeping with her in her room but I would like to move upstairs. What baby monitor do you recommend? Do I need something fancy?

Adriana,
Los Angeles

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I’m assuming that by “fancy,” you’re asking if you need some kind of special device that will keep you informed of your child’s pulse, respirations, aspirations, thoughts, fast-twitch muscle response, and paranormal activity? Well, first off, you’ll be able to pick up paranormal activity on any standard baby monitor. Also? Screw all that other nonsense.

Have you ever been hooked up to some kind of hospital monitor, only to have an alarm on the monitor go off for no apparent reason? What usually happens is that a nurse will eventually stroll in, nonchalantly press a button to make the beeping stop, shrug, and walk out. That’s because the nurse has a pretty good idea of your general health is, best practices for your care, and what they actually need to watch for. The monitor doesn’t. That’s the problem with super sophisticated baby monitors. They give you too much information and too little context. That will often leave parents with two options: Either become obsessed with every change in their child’s breathing and pulse or be lulled into a false sense of security. Those are crappy options.

Here’s what you need to capture: Sound and video. That’s it. And even video is pushing it, frankly. If you can see and hear your kid from another room, you’re good to go. That said, there are some things to consider.

First, understand that devices that work over wireless networks can, and have been, hacked. So make sure you take appropriate security measures to lock down your wireless router. Next, make sure the device you choose is free of illumination at the source. And, finally, keep the monitor cord as far away from your child’s sleeping area as possible. You don’t want them to get entangled in the cord. That would be bad.

Other than that, you’re good to go! Just pick something affordable with good reviews. We like YI Home Camera that retails for 40 bucks. Here’s to big brothering your baby.