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Seven Strategies for Sharing Parenting Responsibilities

By Alison Rockwell

Published May 30, 2018 • 5 Min Read

Just as there are no hard and fast rules about the proper way to parent, how you decide to share the duties that come along with kids and all the necessary responsibilities, should be up to both of you.

Whether you follow a traditional-style model when it comes to division of labour, or it’s an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach, try these practical tips and mindful suggestions below to help ensure an equal output of effort and contribution by everyone in your home.

1. Take Paternity Leave

Depending on your partners’ employment situation in Canada, they may be entitled to paternity leave which is a wonderful opportunity for both of you to spend time together with your newborn, while working through the kinks and adjustments (and new responsibilities!) that naturally come with one of life’s biggest transitions: parenthood.

2. Divide Days Off

Eventually the day may come when both of you are back at work full-time, which is when communication skills with your partner will be quintessential. If work flexibility is easier for one parent, they should be on deck for calls from daycare asking you to come pick up a sick child, as well as the primary person to handle middle-of the day doctor or dental appointments . On the flip side, the other parent, owing to less flexibility in their career, can book days off in advance for daycare/school PD days, sporting-events, field trip volunteering, etc.

3. Try A Balancing Act

No matter how well-intentioned you are to balance the division of labour, sometime the key to household harmony is better served by dividing and conquering, based on the strengths of each partner. That’s not to say your better-half doesn’t have a voice, but that one of you drives (not literally!) that responsibility day-to-day. If finances are an area of strength for one of you, that person can manage the budgeting and long-term planning (but both of you should be aware of how you are tackling debt, investing and making big purchases.) The same goes with meal planning or home maintenance. Come to an agreement – together – and you’ll find there is room for co-CEO’s to successfully run your family operation.

4. Revisit Your Priorities

Hopefully you had many prior conversations about how you viewed your combined future, so after the arrival of your baby (which is a major transition for all of you!), it’s a good idea to revisit your priorities as a couple and discuss what is still important to you from a time-spent and financial planning perspective. Is travelling to see family out of town a key driver? Maintaining a regular social network with friends? Paying down debt? Starting back at school part-time / doing an executive MBA? Reconfirming and/or adjusting your ideals will help you both feel you are driving towards the same plans, making responsibilities seem less onerous and more opportunistic as they help you meet your goals.

5. Confidence is Key

Recent studies have shown that a frequent complaint in many households, is that a traditional approach to the division of labour (women or one partner shouldering more of the domestic chores) tends to be the default. Similar studies show that many women secretly have less confidence in their male partner being able to successfully carry out tasks to their same standards. Whether it’s getting the right groceries, bathing the babe, soothing him or her to sleep, handling laundry, one partner may be hanging on to certain tasks based on an outdated bias of their own. If so, suggest they (or you) take a step back, and you will both reap the rewards of greater balance in the daily duties.

6. Express Yourself

There can often be an unspoken impasse between couples that can culminate in total miscommunication, despite the fact both couples have the same goal – to get tasks done. It often falls something along the lines of this: Partner A is tired of having to specifically ask for help around the house from Partner B. Partner B isn’t sure how of how he/she can be of help around the house so waits to be asked. This cycle – and some resentment along with it – continues to grow. Talk it out, regardless of whether you identify as Partner A or B, and watch how quickly your household becomes more effective.

7. Tackle it With Technology

The idea of free and overly competent help is one we are always happy to take advantage of, and thanks to technology, it’s always within arms-reach, requires little training and anyone can do it, anywhere. From meal planning apps and online grocery delivery options (depending on where you live), to using calendar invites to automatically remind your significant other when it’s their turn to do the daycare pickups, to carpool and sports team apps that can combine all your scheduling into one beautiful (often daunting!) spreadsheet, use the power of today’s technology to help make it all possible.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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Parenting Relationships