Scores of medical studies, TV commercials and our own neighbourhood doctor has told us: we need at least 7 hours of sleep every day. But have you ever wondered how many hours your mother sleeps?
Research shows that young mothers can be extremely sleep deprived. As they grow older, they get a bit more – but never the 7 hours we all know they need. Women who have just delivered a baby have it worse. Their bodies have just endured the immense pain of childbirth, and when the fathers are not around, they are forced to shoulder the entire responsibility of parenting all by themselves.
We live in a pervasive culture where an infant’s care is considered to be primarily a mother’s job. She bears the baby, so she has to look after it too. That leaves her tired and sleepless, often forcing her to compromise on her career and health. The initial imbalance in parenting follows the mother all through her life.
As we get bombarded by Mother’s Day wishes on WhatsApp, do we stop to think and ask, what can men do to reduce a mother’s work?
The first step would be for men to take time off from work for several weeks when the baby is born.
Having the father home for the first few weeks is important. Research shows that active fatherhood is good for the father’s health, their relationship with their family and the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of their children. Being with the child in the first few weeks lays the foundation for life-long equal parenting. Fathers form a bond with the child and the child understands that parenting is not just mom’s job.
And that’s why, TNM’s Editor-in-Chief Dhanya Rajendran is petitioning the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, and all Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, to draft and pass a law mandating all public and private organisations in India to provide the option of two months paid paternity leave for fathers. Sign the petition here.
Enacting the law will only be the first step, but it is a crucial one. After the law is passed, incentives have to be created to ensure men take the paternity leave without hesitation and share the responsibilities at home.
This article has been produced by The News Minute in association with Duroflex for the #EnergiseMom campaign.