Part 1: Our Journey of Equally Shared Parenting

Father And Children Sorting Laundry In Kitchen

This is part  1 of a post on our family’s journey of equally shared parenting. Part 2 was posted here, which is my husband’s take on this!

“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”
― Sheryl SandbergLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Recently I read about how businesses are aspiring to create equal opportunities and reduce the pay gap between men and women in the workplace. In my opinion (and some other studies actually) home and family strategies are also needed to achieve equality at work.

Create space for men to step up at home in order to create the opportunity for women to lead at work Click To Tweet

Equality starts at home. Equality in the home represents the sharing of household and childcare responsibilities.

father and daughter parenting

When building your career, you need to commit time and energy to your job. However running a household and significant time off required for any matters related to the home and children, has an impact on how one can progress. I wrote here about the maternal wall bias mothers face at work.

We know that women do more household work than men, but here is one of the many referenced studies which proved it. I see what you are thinking; we know this, did we REALLY need a study to show women do more housework than men?

Another challenge with parents driving their careers: who is taking care of our children when fathers and mothers are both driving careers? One way to address these gaps is through creating equal homes. By sharing the family workload, a mother (and father) will have more space to focus on their career or any pursuit for that matter.

Related Post: The Maternal Wall: How to Disrupt Bias Against Working Mothers

How we strive for equally shared parenting in our home (*warning* we have wins and misses)

Do not every let a father babysit his child, ever

Mamas, please do not refer to your partner taking care of their child as babysitting and do not allow anyone else to refer to it in that way. Lets change the narrative. Its called parenting. Plain old parenting.

Allow and encourage your partner change diapers, feed the baby, bathe the baby, and do not correct him. Unless someone’s life is at stake, let your partner figure out his way. I don’t know about y’all, but with my first child, no magic kicked in that gave me mad ‘baby care skills.’ Day by day, I needed to figure out how to hold the baby, feed the baby, burp the baby, what to do when the baby is crying. I had to learn that, and a man can learn this too in the same way. In fact, my husband did. He is pretty good at it.

Let's change the narrative, fathers do not babysit ever, it's just plain parenting. Click To Tweet

Fathers must be given space to figure it out

Allow fathers the space to figure it out. Sometimes they want to, but we stand in their way:

  • We discourage them because we want to ‘correct’ and show them the ‘right way’. Is it really a train smash if they don’t rub lotion on the baby in an exact precise way?
  • We put pressure on ourselves that we need to be seen to be running with certain things because we are a bad mother if we do not.

Related Post: The Side of Motherhood We Do Not Post On Instagram

Father's day - daughter and father

Husbands and fathers, lean in at home

Please lean in to your families. Example, when there is a new baby in the house – understand that the mother needs support and the baby needs parenting. Change diapers, feed the baby, take baby for a walk to give the mother of your child a break. Hell, go all out, and run with meals.

During my first maternity leave, my husband would ‘take over’ when he came from work, do as much as possible and bring supper home. He also wanted his ‘bonding’ time, and did as much as he could in the little time he had after work and on weekends with our baby girl. This was the turning point in my life when grocery shopping on my own became an outing I looked froward to!

Tag team

For the last four years since our first child was born, we tag team everything. Who needs to be home in the afternoon; taking turns to look after the kids when they are booked off sick; or when there is a taxi strike and our nanny cannot get to work. We even tag team weekend pursuits, so we each have some timeout as well in our individual capacities (we try!). This has relieved us of the pressure to be away from work all the time (this is a reality of parenthood) and has helped us to maintain focus on our careers and personal passions. It is not easy but we work through it and do what works for us.

Equality starts at home with men and women contributing in the home to housework and childcare Click To Tweet

As a couple, set goals and challenge current norms

As a couple, challenge stereotypes where you can. I am guilty of letting things slide too. Although in our home we strive for equally shared parenting, the subtle judgment makes me back off sometimes. When I am referring to something that my husband does for our family, I get that look from people like something is misfiring in their brain. ‘Your husband wakes up to give your baby milk and you just sleep?‘. Yeah. I sleep. Like a baby.

I am also clueless on which medicines apply in which scenarios when the children are ill. My husband has a better relationship with our family doctor and he knows kids’ medicines (it’s a super power). So he always knows exactly what needs to happen when they are ill.

At the same time, I always end up being the one that runs with ‘family projects’. Example, when we travel, when my daughter needs stuff for school,  when we moved house,  gifts, etc. That is okay because I don’t mind. So I guess it balances out. Ha! We do what works for us. Its not fifty fifty exactly,  not even close, its a perfect imbalance. We do not keep a log book but we try to each contribute in our own way.

Finally…

It is only logical. To gain access to the leadership talents of women, we need to create space for women to be mothers and work. To have  equality in companies and governments, we need equal homes. For women to increase their roles in the workplace, men need to increase their roles in the home. My personal view is that if society is consistently making mothers feel forced to choose between children and a career, no one will pick careers. I need to restate this quote again, because it sums it all up.

“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

– Sheryl Sandberg

What does equally shared parenting mean for you,  can we strive for it or it is a pipe dream?

Further Reading:

Bye Bye Mommy Guilt, Why You Should Feel Proud of Being a Working Mother

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Mommy, wife and a career loving parent. This blog is for moms who also like working.

13 thoughts on “Part 1: Our Journey of Equally Shared Parenting

  1. I love what you say about Dads NOT babysitting – I agree totally…Dads are not babysitting, they are parenting, just like Mums do…great article:)

  2. I love that Sheryl Sandberg quote, as well as all the points you bring up throughout the article. One of the hardest for me is giving my husband room to figure things out. It’s so easy for me to just step in or just tell him what to do, but that’s such a disservice to us all.

    1. I agree I also feel I want to ‘step in’ all the time, but I know to step back and let him be. In all honesty, we each have our strengths when it comes to this. He is good with the practical parenting side, and I am definitely seen as more ‘nurturing’ (when they need comfort most times they want me :)) It all works out in the end. Thank you !

  3. It’s been really hard trying to get my partner to share equal parenting duties. I feel like he’s always been “lending a hand,” and the kids are solely MY children and MY responsibility. It’s cause a lot of doubt in my feelings for him.

    1. Thank you for commenting and sharing this! I can only say it is about finding what works for you as a family. If you are truly not satisfied with the status quo then open and talk. Sometimes if we open up and raise something it can clear up a lot!

  4. Great post.I love the part about Fathers must be given space to figure it out..I think it’s so important.
    My hubby was amazing at this and I ended up learning so much from him.Thanks for sharing.

    1. Your husband also sound like a good partner 🙂 Thank you for commenting. That was my learning, letting my husband just also figure it out.

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