In this article a first time mother offers tips on sharing parental responsibility and talks about why this is important in any relationship.
Growing up, I didn’t give too much thought to parental roles. Until my parents divorced, my mother worked long hours and was the “breadwinner”. My dad was a #girldad and primary caregiver to me and my two sisters.
My mom the person who made and attended all of our doctors appointments. She arranged all of our extracurricular activities. She was also in charge of all necessary upkeep of our home and financial obligations.
My mom did all this before and after my parents divorced. She did it without any of there children ever knowing the amount of work it took. We never heard her complain or had a clue how hard it could be.
Fast-forward to the beginning of 2021. Despite only knowing two days before giving birth that I was pregnant, I knew that as long as I wasn’t a single mother, I had no intention of “doing it all”.
My significant other and I would be sharing parental responsibility! That didn’t happen as quickly as I thought and talking with other moms, I was not alone.
Parental Roles Have Changed & So Should We
The only parents who get “time-off” from the active role of parenting are those who are separated, divorced, no longer together, etc. If you’re in a relationship with someone in which you agree to raise a child together, parenting is a 24/7 job.
The days where moms used to leave dads alone with the kids and havoc ensued is slowly becoming frowned upon as a whole.
Moms are more open to talking about mommy burnout as mental health is becoming a more discussed topic. Television shows have even begun to change. More mothers on television have careers, children, and are the traditional “housewife” model.
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The Care and Growth of Your Child Should Be Important to Both Mom & Dad
If your child is the priority for both you, why would not try sharing parental responsibility?
Both parents should know who their child’s healthcare providers are. Both parents should know who their child’s teachers, babysitters, coaches, friends, and parents’ friends are.
It should be a priority for mom and dad to attend appointments, conferences, recitals, etc. for their child.
Mom and dad should be able to work together to share parental responsibility of the daily parenting duties. If your child is a shared priority you should be able to share parental responsibility.
The importance of shared parental responsibility
This may challenge your own ideas of what you believe parental roles to be. Shared parental responsibility may be different than what you grew up with.
But without understanding there cannot be change or even a constructive conversation.
Developing Shared Parental Responsability
- Identify your needs and desires independently before talking with your partner.
- Once you understand what shared parental responsibility is you can identify what you’re looking for. Do you desire a hour to yourself each day? Do you need assistance in the morning with the baby? Take some time to think about these things and write them down.
- Come together and make a list of responsibilities.
- Be as precise and detailed as possible when it comes to making the list. If the dog needs to be walked daily twice daily write it down! Does the laundry need to be washed and folded once a week? Shared parental responsibility includes feeding baby as well as yourselves. Take your time and write it all down.
- Outsource any of your shared parental responsibility if you want and can afford to do so
- If the thought of either of you cooking every day is too much, can you both agree to take-out a couple nights a week? Can you afford someone to clean your home or do your laundry? Is it possible to hire someone to mow the lawn or babysit a couple of afternoons? If it’s within your means to outsource some of the parental responsibilities and you both agree, do so!
- Make space if you can for unmet wants and desires.
- Everyone is not going to get all their desires and needs met. Compromises have to be made. But if what you’ve listed independently hasn’t been met, express it. Maybe there’s no space for a daily hour to yourself but you guys can agree to a designated 30 minutes daily of alone time with one Saturday or Sunday afternoon uninterrupted to yourself.
Shared Parental Responsibility Does Not Happen Overnight
Sharing parental responsibility isn’t always easy and everyone has their off days. Be patient!
You’ll find that one day you have take on more than the your partner.
Other days you may find that you guys switch or share responsibilities. It’s important though that parental responsibility is still shared and for the most part balanced.
When things become unbalanced, hold one another accountable. Talk it out, regroup, and move forward with shared parenting.
No one should feel they have to “do it all”.
Sharing is caring after all!
Mom With No Plan is a first time mummy who didn’t realise she was pregnant until two days before giving birth to her daughter. When she is not juggling her newfound journey of motherhood, she is blogging about it. She enjoys a daily cup of coffee, an occasional glass of wine and spending time with her family.
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