There’s a lot of hype around sharing the parenting load (and fair enough – it’s something a lot of families are dealing with right now).
Here’s how to do it.
1. Be on the same page BEFORE you have a kid
Make sure you have the same feelings about parenthood before you enter parenthood. There’s no right way to do it – if one of you wants to be a stay at home parent and the other wants to work – fantastic. Do it. If you both want to work and you both want to share the household chores, great. If one of you wants to sit on the couch and play Xbox all day and not participate at all in the daily running of the household then there might be a bit of a problem. Hint: People who sit on the couch and play Xbox all day and don’t participate are very unlikely to change this behaviour with the addition of a child. Just a heads up.
2. Let your spouse make decisions
If you leave your significant other to take care of your kid, just let them figure it out. If you write a giant list of everything that needs to be done, you’re setting yourself up as the boss. If you leave cooked meals in the fridge, lay out pyjamas and clothes and basically pre-parent you’re taking on the brunt of the load.
Who cares if they put them in a onesie that’s too short or they give them dinner for lunch or vice versa? Let them do their thing. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to be the person in charge in which case you’ll always be the person in charge. If that works for you, cool but I sure as hell don’t want my partner texting me asking if we have a spare bag of nappies (yes we do – massive stock of Little One’s in the cupboard under the stairs) whenever I leave the house.
3. Put up a public front of being shared parents
This option isn’t available to everyone, but we make sure my partner takes our kid to daycare the same amount as I do. There are HEAPS of dads that do daycare drop-offs now, and it’s great. If this is available to you, do it. If you’re a part of a family where both parents work full time, there’s no reason why all the daycare drop-offs and communication has to be the mother’s responsibility. We also take it in turns to look after her when she’s sick. My job is just as important as my partners, so there’s no reason why I should have to skip work every time our kid gets sick. We take it in turns.
4. Choose your battles
I (very randomly) hated feeding our daughter when she switched to solid food/purees. I found it to be a weird mix of stressful and boring. I would have rather done anything else, so my partner took it on. Shared parenting doesn’t mean 50/50 split parenting. I do most of the bathing/getting dressed for bed. My partner usually does breakfast. I do most of her clothes shopping, he does furniture/gadget shopping. Find a groove that works for you and an arrangement that’s equitable for YOUR partnership.
5. Don’t let people congratulate your partner for doing really basic stuff
I frequently get told what an excellent father my partner is (and it’s true – he’s great!) but I don’t think anyone has told him what an excellent mother I am. The things that are expected of me are worshipped in him and it’s bollocks. If I patiently walk down the street holding my toddlers hand while she sniffs flowers and picks up rocks no one looks sideways at me. If my partner does it, the whole town stops what they’re doing to praise the Heavenly Dad God. If someone compliments your male partner for doing something they’ve also seen you do and not complimented you on it, call them out. I’ve never heard anyone praise a woman for bathing a baby and putting them to bed but it’s often comparable to the moon landing when a man does it. Call it out.
Happy shared parenting!
Do you have shared parenting in your home? Or is it a less than equal split? We’d love to know how you make it work (or not) in the comments below!
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