Dividing Parenting Duties Equally: 7 Ways to Get Started

No one expects motherhood to  be easy, but for some reason we expect moms to do everything. Parenting is supposed to be a team effort, but most of the time we see  moms taking the lead while their partner gets a pat on the back to wash dishes once a week.

Your well-being is directly affected by how you and your partner divide household chores. Whether they are married or not, the two of them will be happier when they share the burden. This does not necessarily mean dividing everything equally.

I use the word “fair” instead of “equal” because you and your partner will not always have the same parenting capacity. Simply put, fair means fair, and equal means equal.

Right after giving birth, for example, is the moment when you have to lift your legs and let your partner do a little more as you recover. That’s fair.

I won’t say much about scheduling work or assigning tasks, because it doesn’t work for every couple (though if it works for you, keep it that way). As a therapist, I have found that proper communication, expectations, and rest help couples find solutions that work for them.

Set expectations before having children

If you’re already a mother, don’t jump ahead just yet, it’s never too late to set or redefine expectations as your life changes.

When couples have trouble dividing parenting duties, it is usually not because one of them is lazy. Often, one or both parents do not expect to do that much.

Even if you’re not a “traditional” couple, a full-time working couple hopes to do less parenting. This is not dangerous. That’s how we see almost every couple portrayed in the media throughout our lives.

We are conditioned to think that way, so it is important to bite it in the first place. How would you divide cooking, cleaning, and parenting? How would that conflict with your work schedule? How much free time can every parent wait for?

You may not immediately know the answers to these questions. Parenting is all about trial and error. However, asking them will help you both have the right mindset.

Both take time to shut down

Mother’s Day is beautiful, but it takes you more than 24 hours each year to take a break from parenting. So it is with your partner.

Conflicts over parenting duties often begin when one partner can “turn off” their way of working and the other cannot. Work conditions us to do this; We work at certain hours, and when we finish, our brain dies and begins to relax.

Whether one or both work, each will take some time when you are not the one to put out all the fires. Of course, the goal is to raise together, but you should at least have a few nights per week where your partner handles parenting and can take it easy.

It’s not about seeing your child as a burden. It’s about giving your brain the time it needs to rest. If you’re in mom mode 24/7, or if you go straight from work to parenting every day, you’ll be exhausted.

Talk early and often

Your partner can’t read your mind, and you can’t read their mind. Parenting can keep us so busy that we forget to connect, and it’s not healthy.

If you are upset about the division of labor, say something! Waiting for a fight usually creates more problems than it solves. If you need your partner to gain weight, you should tell them as quickly and respectfully as possible.

Similarly, if your partner seems irritable or exhausted, call and ask if there is anything you can do. I recommend that couples talk to each other at least once a week about their workload and how they feel about it.

Leave them old people

Parents are a team, but that doesn’t mean they’re both going to do everything the same way. It’s natural to want your partner to do things the way you do, but this can make you the dominant parent rather than a co-parent.

As you learn to be a parent, you and your partner will do things your way. If you insist that your partner feed your child the way you want, dress as you like, clean the house your way, etc., then you establish a dynamic where you are a parent and they just help.

This not only discourages them from parenting, but also puts the idea in their heads that you are the one in charge. You have to correct it if a serious mistake is made, but most of the time it is a matter of preference.

Your goal is not to teach your partner to be a parent, it is to learn how to be a parent together. If you always take over, you will eventually do more work. In addition, your partner is less likely to help themselves if they are worried about doing something wrong.

Not tracking

I know, I know. It’s easy to keep track of how many times you’ve cleaned up after dinner while your partner is sitting on the couch staring at their phones. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but keeping the score can only bother you.

First of all, if you have a score to defend, you are already far behind talking to your partner. Second, the point of dividing the work is not to prove to the partner that you are not doing enough. It’s going to feel like an attack, and they’re probably going to be defensive.

The bottom line is that you feel like you need more effort from them than they give. You feel you need more help raising your children. You don’t need a stack of tests, you need to tell them how you feel.

It shifts the conversation from “You’re wrong” to “I need help,” and it’s always a more productive conversation.


What analysis needs to be done

If you have already fallen into the role of a dominant parent, your partner may not know how much mental effort you put in.

I recommend writing everything down: buying clothes, buying groceries, cooking, dressing children, handling bills, putting children to sleep, putting birthday gifts to sleep, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the floor, replacing broken appliances. Don’t leave anything behind.

The first thing this does is make the work transparent so that your partner can see what you have done and what needs to be done. It makes the parenting workload as obvious to them as it is to you.

It also makes it easier for them to get things out of their plates. Instead of asking you five times a day if you’ve done something, they can take the initiative and do it themselves.

Plus, and maybe it’s just me, there’s something really satisfying about marking tasks off the list.

Work smarter, not harder

Sometimes, no matter what you’re doing, parenting feels like too much work. Even if you have a great system with your partner, life will find a way to ruin it sometimes.

Getting sick, working overtime, school holidays, and traveling are just a few examples of times when one of you had to do more than the other. This can last for days, weeks, or even months, depending on the situation.

You should not try to defend and resist if you and your partner are overworked. Sometimes you have to simplify things. Ordering food preparation, skipping a cleaning day, or hiring a babysitter can reduce your labor and give you time to get back on track.

There are times when your partner needs to increase and gain weight, but there are also times when parenting is too much for both of you. In these cases, do not be afraid to facilitate the work in any way you can.


Don’t be discouraged by mistakes

No partner is the same, so don’t be discouraged if it takes some mistakes to find the right parenting balance with your partner.

The important thing to remember is not to play the role of the main parent. Encourage, counsel, and guide your partner to become parents on their own terms. Explain that you are not responsible, you are a partner. It may take some time, but if you communicate your feelings and work towards co-parenting, you will probably find that your partner wants to step up.