2017 update: We still stand by the advice below on how to share parenting duties with your spouse; you may also want to check out our more recent post on how to get your husband to care about the little things.
Are you an “equal parent” with your partner? What steps did you take to make that happen — and what happened organically? Do you foresee times when your partnership won’t be equal — and how do you feel about that? If your roles are not equal, how much of that is due to maternal gatekeeping — as in, you take on a certain task because you’re the only one who does it “right”? (Sandberg defined maternal gatekeeping in Lean In as women discouraging their husbands from doing their share at home by being too controlling or too critical.)
There was an interesting article in Daily Worth a while ago with suggestions for how to equalize your parenting, so I thought we’d discuss here as well. I always get frustrated when I read articles like this that exclusively focus on housekeeping (the easiest thing to outsource!) and dismiss what I like to call the “cruise director duties” (meaning the mom’s role is cruise director for the family, explained in this HuffPo piece as the “default parent”), so let’s try to discuss the following topics:
- Running the household — How much do you outsource? Even if you outsource certain things, does one of you take the lead on those matters (hiring the housekeeper, keeping track of supplies, keeping the kitchen stocked, keeping the never-ending laundry train moving)?
- Day-to-day parenting (fun stuff): Reading, bathtime, mealtimes, board games, other play…
- Day-to-day parenting (duty stuff): Who preps the kiddos’ meals? Is one parent the default one who does daycare drop-off, picks up sick kids at school or daycare, or is at home nights/weekends?
- Planning for the family (near-term): Who keeps track of the schedule? Who chooses/investigates extracurriculars and summer camps, schedules doctor/dentist appointments, and plans birthday parties? Who chooses and buys year-end gifts for teachers?
- Planning for the family (long term): Who takes the lead on investigating school/care options? Who takes the lead on family finances (budgeting, 529-ing, accounts, etc.)?
- Extras: No family is going to truly suffer if, say, the family photo albums aren’t up to date — and no one will suffer if you don’t get to that family-friendly resort. But for the things you do prioritize, which parent does that stuff?
For my $.02 — I would say that my husband and I are definitely equal partners, although sometimes it may feel like I carry a heavier load because I work from home — and for myself — so I have much more flexibility in the what/when/how. Some of the different areas that I think of when I think of equal parenting, and how it worked for me: