|August 20th, 2014|
The distribution of baby time is unequal in a way that seems amenable to pareto improvement. There are lots of young adults without children who would like baby cuddles, and there are lots of new parents who would love someone to play with their baby a bit while they have a nap or shower. People in my cohort tend to have their first kid at around thirty which is ~10 years after people would have historically had their first, and that leaves lots of potential years of being pushed biologically to have babies but not being socially or economically ready for that yet. When people used to live together more closely this was also probably less of an issue; now it's more each couple being off in their own house with their infant. And in fact living with family as Julia and I do, we really don't so often find ourselves in the "if only there were someone to take Lily for a moment" situation: her grandparents and especially her aunts are often pretty excited to get to spend some time with her. Our family seems to get along atypically well for the US, however, as most people in my cohort seem to be pretty sure living with extended family wouldn't work for them at all. Something similar that might work well would be living with friends? Most people who live together after college seem to split up into separate houses as they get married and have kids, but perhaps more people should consider continuing to have one big household?
(One thing I think is key to making this kind of informal pareto improvement childcare work is trying really hard as a parent to let the non-parents have the easiest baby-moments, and making it really clear that they're free to give the baby back as soon as they're not enjoying it. Give them a happy giggling baby and take back a sleepy grump who needs a change. You could certainly do some amount of pushing people into looking after your kid when they don't want to out of a duty they feel to help out, but this would not be a good plan. Aside from the damage it does to your relationships to buy childcare with goodwill and social capital, you're also opting for a small amount of free time when it's convenient to you when instead you could have a larger amount of free time total by letting it be when it was convenient for the other person.)
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