A coworker from a few jobs ago sent me a message for advice because her husband is the at-home parent for their first baby. I sent this, and then thought I'd save it, because it a piece of my family's story.
"For Steve and I, it took some time for us to work through the different ways we each handle parenting-type things. I think this would be the case even if Steve weren't at home, but initially our differences were exaggerated because of it. Without sounding borish, respect for the different roles is really important. I had to learn to let go of a lot, and to remember what I would want by way of help/advice/support if I were at home isn't necessary what Steve wants. Steve is an amazing father and the kids' safety is and always has been his primary concern. Which is what is important, right? Except that I can get worked up over less critical things like what clothes they are wearing or whether their nails are trimmed as often as I would like, or at what age they should transition to 'big kid' beds. I am fortunate in that Steve also takes care of the laundry/house/groceries/yard/snow, too, which I hear a lot of SAHDs don't. So there can be benefit in discussing what 'other' things the SAH parent does. For example, I still keep any eye on the doctor/dentist appts b/c Steve doesn't necessarily think of those things. Right now we are working through who is on-point for making sure school work is done.
I don't know how well little XXXX sleeps, but for us, the first year of each child's life was very tiring b/c they didn't sleep through the night until about 1 yr old. We varied night duty - I went through a period of insomnia where I actually got up with our daughter most nights, even though I worked, b/c I just wasn't sleeping anyway. And frankly, sometimes being home with a little one can be more exhausting that working outside the home. We would catch up on sleep on the weekends. We also don't have family in town, so we really had to tag team because we had no relief (Steve has been pretty anti-babysitter b/c he's so protective). That's just to say, if you do have family/friends who can 'spell' you, enjoy it!
Steve is selectively social, so being home all day with the kids wasn't a problem for him emotionally (although there were times where I wished he would involve them in more activities like swimming, playdates, etc) - if YYYY is more social, then I'm sure there are lots of activities he can do with XXXX. If he's a home-body then its great to remember that one-on-one time with a parent can't be beat (I had to remind myself of this on occasion). Will's reading is the most advanced of his kindergarden class, which I credit Steve's endless and patient reading and letter-writing with Will for.
Will (now 6) routinely talks about being a dad when he grows up, so I think that the role model he has in Steve is priceless...and SAHDs are so much more common now that its not a strange thing - everyone I talk to knows at least one SAHD. Teachers and other parents seem to fawn over Steve and what he does, which only benefits our kids, ya know? We talk to the kids about each having a job - Daddy's job is to take care of them during the day, my job is to go to work, their job is either school or being 'good listeners' (our euphemism for behaving!), so I think they see the logic in it all.
I struggled for a bit about not being the traditional mom, but the fact is that Steve is a better full-time parent than I would ever be, so I've learned to deal with my own insecurities, and to not try to overcompensate. For a long time, I would beat myself up over the hypothetical that I couldn't do it all on my own - it was a weird compulsion to try to figure out how I would work and parent without Steve. I'm convinced it was a cave-woman/survival type instinct trying to kick in. Fortunately, I am still very much the The Mommy to my kids - in fact, I think they appreciate me more because they don't see as much of me. I'm still the one that notices first that their glands are swollen, or that their hair needs cutting, or that new underwear/socks are a must. Its how I continue to justify my role beyond my paycheck.
Yikes, that was long winded, but I think ultimately the most important thing is kindness to each other and good communication. And for us, the romantic side of our relationship came back, although it was hard to focus on that for a few years there. I believe a lot of parents experience the same thing.
Hugs to you and XXX, and best of luck to YYYY as he does this very important work!"