Childrearing

Are You There, Moms? It’s Me, Idiot Who Does The Most Parenting, You Or Your Partner?

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mom adviceAre You There, Moms? It’s Me, Idiot is an ongoing series dedicated to helping one very well-intentioned and dumb future-parent learn about the world of childrearing. Click here to see past columns.

In case there was any question, I’m a pretty big fan of equal parenting between all involved parents, or at the very least, balanced parenting based on what works best for your family. Of course, that’s fairly idealistic of me, and I know that it simply isn’t possible for all families to have each parent change an equal number of diapers.

I would say I came from a relatively egalitarian household. Both my parents worked full time, and split things like showing up to school events, driving the carpools, making lunches, and helping with homework. While my relationships with each parent couldn’t be more different, I’d be hard pressed to tell you which one took on more work when it came to the nitty gritty logistics of making sure we went out into the world with pants on and knowing not to curse in public. On the other hand, I do have some abstract sense that more was required of my mom than my (very involved, very dedicated) dad, even if I can’t quantify it. I wonder if they’d each agree with that assessment, and one day I’ll ask (although, I’m not particularly sure I want to wade into those waters).

I know that the balance between parents isn’t necessarily measured in school lunches or diaper changes–parenting is of course much more nuanced than that. Maybe one parent works to support the family financially while the other runs the household, or one is more nurturing while the other is the disciplinarian. There are endless configurations of parents and families–joint custody, two parents, single parents, a village of grandparents, family members, and close friends, and many more. So in your family specifically–how is the responsibility of parenting divvied up?

32 Comments

  1. Eve Vawter

    June 6, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    It’s pretty equal in my house. My husband does the chauffeuring, I make the school lunches, I breastfed, he diaper changed, and at the end of the day we both just collapse on the sofa and sigh heavily.

  2. wispy

    June 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    It’s equal. We work very well together as a team and whoever is able at the moment will take on what needs to be done. The only real separate “jobs” we have is I do diaper laundry (bc diaper laundry is kind of specific) and he does the litter box because I had to do it alone while he was deployed so much (even while pregnant with stupid gloves and mask!) that he has committed himself to do it for the rest of his life lol. So I clean human poop and he cleans cat poop. Fair enough.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      June 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Your poop arrangement seems like the most equitable display of parenting I’ve ever seen!

    • wispy

      June 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      lol! I’m not in a marriage, I’m in a poop arrangement!

    • Julia Sonenshein

      June 9, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      I think that any couple who has shared a one bathroom apartment is in exactly that! What is a relationship if not a poop arrangement?

  3. jane

    June 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I do more of the parenting. I am both around more (I’m a teacher with a shorter commute) and my husband has had cancer on and off for a good portion of my kids lives. I am around for more things like doctors’ appointments, I do all the planning of events, I make the lunches and dinners and do the laundry.

    It should be noted, however, that had always been the plan, as I knew that as a teacher I would have more time during the day and over the summers, and I also knew I would make less money. However, when he became sick and I became the primary care giver AND the primary wage earner, that was tough. There was nothing we could do about it though, so we muddled through.

    We are trying to get back to greater equity now that he’s healthy (knock wood that he stays that way). It’s not exactly how I’d like it to be, but it’s not terrible. Like most of life, I guess.

    • Hibbie

      June 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      I hope your husband stays healthy. Unexpected illness with wee ones can really put major stress on everyone involved. I’m glad you have been able to make it through together.

    • jane

      June 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Thank you.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      June 9, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      Knocked on some wood for you <3.

  4. ted3553

    June 6, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I definitely do more. Partly that’s because my husband works out of town on shift but even when he’s home, he’s less involved than I am. I’m not saying he’s not involved at all but he definitely relaxes more than I get to. He is always ready when I specifially ask him to take on a task but he takes a back seat to me more.

  5. TashaB

    June 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    We’re pretty equal, but partner is much more of a morning person, so he handles the early morning stuff most of the time (that evens out a little sleep-wise on the weekend when he takes a nap with munchkin). I do more of the household logistics – schedules, etc.

  6. allisonjayne

    June 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    I think we’re pretty damn even at this point. It helps to be two women – there’s no rules about who should do what, we basically do what we’re good at/hate the least when it comes to chores in general.

    When my kid was still breastfeeding, then yes, I was doing “more”. As she started nursing less, that changed. Now we split things pretty evenly. We take turns putting her to bed and doing daycare drop-off/pick-up. If I’m doing drop-off, my wife gets the kid ready while I get ready. If she’s doing pick-up, I come home and start dinner. We take turns sleeping in on the weekends when possible.

    I grew up in a pretty egalitarian household. Whoever cooked, the other did the dishes. My parents spent a pretty equal amount of time with me. My mom’s a total (second wave) feminist and my dad had a screwed up relationship with his oldest daughter (from his first marriage) so my mom was really into making sure my dad and I had a close bond.

  7. Kendra

    June 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    We both work full-time, so we kind of split time with our daughter after work. Usually, he takes her right when we get home so that I can get supper ready. I handle pretty much everything after that. But, if you’re referring to tasks like discipline, bathes, bedtime, meal time, or whatever…I guess I do almost all of that.

  8. Eve Vawter

    June 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    OH I need to another of my two cents, the best best best thing you can do, when you are a parent, is make sure your kids see BOTH parents sharing equally in housework and childcare, because one day they may have partners and be parents too. ALSO! make your kids do work too, because it’s not fair they only see parents doing it, kids help too, we are all a family, everyone does work etc.

    • Spongeworthy

      June 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      So agree with this! We really don’t split jobs along traditional gender roles except for cooking(me, and I like cooking) and mowing the lawn (him, he loves the riding mower). Everything else, we both do. So much so that our son is convinced the the vacuum is “daddy’s toy”.

    • CRod

      June 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Totally agree! My MIL did everything, while my FIL worked, came home, ate dinner, watched TV, and then went to bed. My husband had the hardest time with doing chores around the house, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. He was so use to the woman of the house doing that all. He truly didn’t realize what needed to be done, because his mom did it all. 6 years of marriage and I am still working on him.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      June 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      This is one of those things I’m putting in my brain box to remember in my hopes of being a successful parent. This is great.

  9. Bill Smith 999935

    June 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    We share most of the housework. My wife works part time, so she handles summer duty and getting the kids to/from school. In return, I’m the sports dad hauling everyone to practices and most birthday parties. It’s a good split since I get to see the kiddos in the evening while she’s seem them more during the day. Now, if my wife and I could actually spend some time together…………………………..

  10. Lilly

    June 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    We are pretty even, but I have found that my husband takes on more of the “motherly” stuff like tending to minor injuries and cuddles, whereas I am more the take son to the park and teach him how to climb the big things person.
    We tend to split a lot oh the household stuff along interests — I am way more organized/financially inclined so I tend to manage the money and appointments side of things — husband is more into research, figuring out the best way to do something, so he tends to do more of the planning, big ticket item shopping etc

  11. Kelly

    June 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    It varies. Right now I’m home so I do more of the parenting just because I’m the one here while he’s working full time and going to school. But my husband has been the stay at home dad before. It shifts now and then depending on our schedules. My husband will finish school this year and I’m increasing my work hours so it will probably shift again when that happens.

    It works for us. I think taking turns keeps either of us from getting overwhelmed or burnt out.

  12. SA

    June 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I do more, but that is because of work scheduling and some sleep-issues on my husbands part, but it isn’t because he won’t, but that I am willing. I take care of indoor, he takes care of outdoors, I grocery shop, he does most the cooking, we split laundry (although I prefer to because he always puts my crap in the wrong places!!). When it comes to the kid though, I do more, but he works one weekend day and has to leave the house before me of the morning so it just falls that way. He definitely steps up to the plate when we are both there though!

  13. Hibbie

    June 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    I do most of the discipline and taking care of her when she’s sick. We’re equal when it comes to teaching her. He does more of the heavy lifting-bath time, playing/wrestling, and housework. I have a degenerative condition that limits my ability to do those things. We’ve worked it out so that overall we both put it a lot of effort, but it’s a hard balance to keep.

  14. Spongeworthy

    June 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Because of work schedules, we have a pretty even split on parenting. I work a more traditional M-F 9-5, while my husband is more of a 2 day on, 2 day off schedule which includes every other weekend on. So on the weekends he works, I’m doing it all, but the days of the week when I work and he’s off he’s pretty much the SAHD. It works well for us right now. And I think it has led them to have much tighter bond since he’s been home with our son like this since the beginning and just spends so much more time with him than if he was getting home each night just when our son was getting ready for bed.

  15. Kelly

    June 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Me. I do everything. My husband works 12 hours days, 6 days a week. It’s awful. When he is able to make it home when our daughter is awake he always does play-bath-bedtime, and on the weekends he tries to cook if he can. But getting ready in the morning, drop-off/pick-up, doctors appointments, diaper bag packing ,food shopping, laundry, house cleaning, yard work…at this point it’s all me. Well, me and lots of help/support from my parents, grandma, and my sister.

    It’s not what I dreamed of and I really do hope that it will get better at some point. I dream of the day when his work life can shift from “proving oneself” to “taking charge of career”. I think he does too, for the record. He misses us and before we had a child, before this work began, he did a lot more cleaning and helping with the housework.

    I usually try to think of this as a time in our lives that will pass. The only thing that frustrates me, really, is that the times that he is home on the weekends he always wants to do the fun stuff, like go out to brunch and go to the zoo and read the paper. And he doesn’t ever, ever get any down time during the week and he’s trying to maximize the time with our daughter so I feel like I need to let him have that time…but then we’re back at Monday morning again and no chores have been done and another work week is looming. That’s the part I’m working on fixing.

  16. personal

    June 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I do almost all of it, but that’s because I only work one day a week and have a 1-year-old who is home with me the rest of the time. The day I work, the little guy goes to a babysitter and DH works just 6 hours so he can pick him up after nap and then collect DD from kindergarten. That’s the only time he’s alone with the kids.
    I do wish DH would be more willing to go to the playground or store or something with the kids every once in a while. He only ever goes out with them if I’m there. It’s something I’ve asked him to work on. I think it would be good for all of us, for the kids to have that time alone with him occasionally and definitely for me to have some time alone in the house sometimes.
    (He is a kind and loving dad and is a good provider.)

  17. ToastDon'tCare(aka LiteBrite)

    June 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    In regards to pure parenting, it’s my husband, hands down. We both work full-time but he has a much shorter commute and is home a good two hours earlier than I am. Plus, I have roller derby practice three days a week (two of them weeknights where I don’t even see my son except in the a.m.). AND, I have friends who like to do stuff, so I tend to be the one making the sans child plans. He stays on top of the school to-do lists, is the primary helper with the homework, and does all the kid’s laundry.

    He does a lot. I think I owe that guy some sex.

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      June 7, 2014 at 3:41 am

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  18. Emil

    June 6, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    My husband, he is a SAHD

  19. jendra_berri

    June 6, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    It’s pretty fairly split. We do different things, but it all evens out. I wash the bottles, do the baby laundry (which includes cloth diapers), doctors appointments, baby shopping and scheduling, evening daycare pickup and dinner.
    My husband does the morning routine while I sleep– every day. And he takes the lead in the bed time routine, which often is all he’s home in time for.
    The morning thing, though, it’s just the best. I rarely ever have to wake up before 8:00. And on the weekends I sleep in later.

  20. Drstephaniedvm

    June 6, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    In our family I do most things partly because now that we have kids I only work 1 or 2 days per week. That being said though I was still responsible for all the cooking, grocery shopping, tidying, laundry and dishes before kids as well. The only reason I’ve not lost my mind with this arrangement is because we have a babysitter 3 days/week and hire someone to clean (but not tidy) every other week.

  21. Justme

    June 6, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Honestly, it’s a pretty even split between the two of us. Not because we purposely set out to have this uber egalitarian household, but because we are team players who step up and help out when shit needs to just get done. Period. It’s not about what he does or what I do…it’s that it is DONE.

    I think the best thing that we’ve already started with our three-year-old is establishing the fact that Momma and Daddy are on the same team and there will be NO pitting one parent against the other.

  22. C.J.

    June 6, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    I do more with the kids since I am home. My husband is very involved with the kids too though. He has always helped with the housework even before I got sick. He leaves most of the decisions for them to me. He will give me his opinion but in the end will support whatever I think is right. That’s mostly because he is worried he is being unreasonable because he is too overprotective.

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