Nothing causes as much controversy as the role of a stay at home mum or dad, well apart from breast vs bottle, when and how to toilet train, and vaccinations.
But we’re not here to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, we’re just here to offer a few tips on how to get the balance right so the one at home with the kids doesn’t feel like the hired help, and the one who comes home from paid work doesn’t feel like they’re getting the raw prawn.
Neither of you clock off at six
Sorry but kids are a 24/7 job with terrible working conditions and no pay, but they can be rewarding – especially when they eat their vegetables without complaining; or when they’re asleep.
On top of generally keeping them alive there’s constant feeding, cleaning, homeworking and de-nitting.
Accept that you won’t get a real day off for the next eighteen years.
But… schedule in some downtime
Rather than flinging the baby at your partner to go and start dinner, spend some time just chillaxing as a family.
Sit down, take a load off, watch the kids play or gurgle. Even if it’s just ten minutes, you’ve both taken a moment and transitioned into family time. Trust us, the dishes, laundry and other chores will still get done, or be there tomorrow.
Agree what the SAHP’s job description is
Is it reasonable for them to do all the cleaning during the day, pay the bills, buy the groceries, sign the school forms, iron the dish towels?
This probably depends on how many children you have and their requirements.
Agree what is expected of each other, but remember, as there are days you don’t get anything on your list done at the office due to unforeseen circumstances, the same is true for the parent at home.
There are also jobs that can combine downtime with chores. Ironing or folding washing while you catch up on your favourite TV show makes it not feel like work.
Divide and conquer
One does the cooking, the other washes up. One’s on mornings the other on bedtime. However you work it, work it out together. And have it agreed and written down somewhere so neither of you forgets.
Give each other a night off
It’s easy to give up things like the gym, a drink with a friend, your hobby or passion but it’s important to keep some things for yourself as well.
Sure it’s a compromise but a night each week (or an hour a few times a week) helps you feel fulfilled and multi-dimensional.
Imagine that, having something to talk about that isn’t work, the house or the kids!
Remember if one of you does overtime, the other does too
If one person has to work late or on the weekend. that means the other picks up the slack at home so both of you are doing overtime.
When the one who’s been working the extra hours gets time of in lieu or is able to get back to their regular hours, negotiate some ‘me time’ each.
That way you won’t get resentful. And it might be a good idea to book the babysitter so you can both enjoy some time off together.
If you’re on holiday the children still need to be cared for
Sorry but just because you’re on a plane or poolside doesn’t get you off being a parent (unless you’re staying somewhere with a kids club which is THE BEST IDEA EVER).
We’ve all seen it, the dad watching the movie on the plane while the mother paces up and down the aisles with a crying baby, or the dad playing in the pool with the kids while mum lies poolside with a book.
This is fine if dad then does the nappy change in the airline toilet, or mum then supervises the kids on their next activity. Just play fair people.
How do you split the responsibilities in your house? SHARE with us in the comments below.