Divvying Chores When Baby Comes
Wednesday - January 28, 2009
Sometimes it’s hard enough trying to divvy up household chores between you and your husband when you have nothing else to worry about but each other. But what happens when your twosome becomes a three-some with the addition of child?
When it’s just the two of you, it’s not that important that the dishes get washed right away or the clothes in the hamper are laundered every Sunday, as long as you have enough clean pairs of underwear to last you through the next week, right? You don’t mind that things aren’t put away neatly all the time.
When a child comes along, however, your mess multiplies in triplicate and so does your list of chores, it seems. Getting these chores done can be made doubly difficult when you’re trying to just take care of your baby’s daily needs as well. There’s dinner to make, vacuuming to do, baths to take and toys to put away. And you’re still hoping that at the end of the night you might just have a moment for yourself and for each other.
So what’s the best way for you and your partner to divide childcare and household duties so that neither of you feel overwhelmed, underappreciated or unhappy?
According to an article on babycenter.com, aiming for a straight 50-50 division of work might not be the best way to go.
First, babycenter.com suggests listing your current tasks so you know where to start. Keep a one-week log of everything you do for the house and family and then compare your list with your partner’s. Ask yourself if you feel OK about all the items on your list or if you want to change anything. The big thing here is being willing to compromise. If you don’t like one of your chores, maybe you can swap with your partner for one you don’t mind doing.
Then, make a list of your baby’s needs. According to babycenter.com, it’s important to make a list of all the tasks involved with raising a baby before the baby even arrives. You and your partner should talk about how you’ll split up the new tasks.
The article emphasizes that couples need to shed their traditional expectations and instead be willing to share their own motives and fears. It’s important not to end up resenting your partner’s involvement (or lack of it) because you’ve failed to discuss what you expect of one another.
Your family might not fall in to the traditional role of dad works and mom stays home. If you’re both working, then you both need to put in the time for childcare and household chores. If one of you works and the other stays home, then maybe the one at home can take on more tasks, but this doesn’t mean that the stay-at-home parents should carry the complete load of housework and child rearing alone.
babycenter.com also advises that couples need to make room for two experts in their house. “Mothers and fathers bring different parenting and nurturing styles to their children, and these differences are important gifts for each child. But parents sometimes have a hard time respecting and valuing those differences. Rather than criticize your mate about how he dresses the baby, simply accept and respect that he dresses, bathes, or feeds her differently than you do and that’s OK. If your partner is constantly criticizing your efforts, you’ll be more reluctant to help with the baby.”
It’s very important to communicate during this time and tell each other what you need. After all, no one is a mind reader.
Some people might prefer going with the flow and taking things as they come. But if having a set list of duties makes you feel more at ease, then developing a schedule is the best way to go. Write it out and put it up on the refrigerator.
If things are written out and agreed upon, it might save you a lot of needless arguing over who should be doing what and when they should be doing it.
There’s nothing worse than having a new addition to the family but being angry and bitter at each other when one person thinks the workload is unfair.
Babycenter.com says to agree to work together so you can play together later. In the end, everyone in the family will benefit when both parents are working as a team to maintain a happy home.
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