POD stands for Parent On Duty. That’s the parent who is at present most responsible for keeping an eye on the kid, making sure his needs are filled, and controlling any undesirable behavior. This concept eliminates most “I thought you were watching him!” moments, and provides a quick way for a harried parent to step out of child-minding responsibilities for a while in order to focus on other tasks or just relax.
I found the POD Concept especially useful when Nicholas was a newborn and I was learning to trust Daniel (who had no prior experience with infant care) to take care of him without my hovering. Having so recently been physically connected to my baby, I found it difficult to let anyone else hold him, even when I was tired of it or needed to take care of myself. Handing over POD responsibility was a way for me to step aside and give the baby and his father a chance to get along together. I pictured a safe, snug pod for Nicholas, similar to my womb except that it didn’t require me all the time. At first, I’d say things like, “Can you POD while I go to the bathroom?” and hurry through the task, maybe throwing in some tooth-brushing or other niceties while I had my hands free but feeling guilty every second. Over time I calmed down about it, and after about a month I was willing to ask Daniel to POD while I took a break, not to work or sleep or shower but just to hang out and have fun by myself. I went into a different room. The first time I heard Nicholas cry, I leapt up–and then I remembered: I am not the POD. Daniel can handle this. I waited…and sure enough, it was fine. I had a whole hour to myself before it was time to nurse again, and it was wonderful!
Of course, there are times when we’re just together as a family, with no designated POD. If Nicholas needs something, one of us will help him. Conveniently, he likes to be with us and therefore generally stays near where we are, so we don’t have many worries about what he’s getting into. When he needs a POD again (for example, he wants to play outside), Daniel and I can negotiate quickly because the POD Concept gives us a shorthand for the responsibility we’re talking about: The POD is going to go outside now; if Nick needs to come in to use the bathroom, the POD will come in with him, not send him into the house assuming the other parent will help him while the parent outside enjoys the sunshine. POD wraps up all the responsibilities of in-the-moment child care in one neat package!