Equality and Family Responsibilities: How to Share the Load

Whether you are a two-income family, or one is the breadwinner while the other stays home with the children, finding an equitable method of sharing the family responsibilities can be a challenge. All too often, one parent winds up feeling they are bearing most of the burden. It’s not long before a feeling of being overwhelmed and underappreciated can set in. Keeping family life running smoothly is a task best shared, and the best place to start is by sitting down and formulating a plan.

Take It Seriously

If your partner comes to you complaining of feeling overwhelmed, the first instinct might be a defensive reply outlining just how hard you are working too. That might be true, but try your best to see it from the other side. Especially in a family where one person works outside the home and the other stays with the kids, things really can get off-balance in a hurry. The working parent often feels that because they have to leave the house and earn a paycheck, they aren’t responsible for doing as much around the house.

Bear in mind that a stay at home parent isn’t just doing one job, but multiple jobs every day. The tasks of caring for children, keeping the house clean, preparing several meals a day, and running all the various necessary errands keep this parent who “doesn’t work” going from dawn until dusk. There are no weekends from this job, no vacations, and no sick days either.

If you both work outside the home, you will have a limited number of hours when you are at home to make sure all the household tasks get completed. Both partners need to do their fair share to keep one person from becoming overwhelmed.

Figure Out What Needs to Be Done

Make a detailed list of the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Include everything from emptying the dishwasher to taking the kids to check ups. Seeing all the tasks laid out in this manner makes it easier to see just how much there is to get done! Split it into categories: housework, childcare, and errands.

Once you have your list, divide it fairly. There may be some tasks more suited to one partner or the other, and there is nothing wrong with that. It makes sense for a stay at home parent to take the kids to their doctor’s visits. But there is no reason that both parents can’t take turns making dinner.

If there is a task your partner just really can’t stand doing, offer to take it on, but pass on one of your more hated chores in return. You could also decide on a monthly or weekly rotation of chores, so no one is stuck with the same jobs all the time. Don’t forget the kids! Even toddlers can take on a few small chores, and it’s never too early to start teaching responsibility.

Post the list of regular jobs and who is responsible for each in a visible place as a reminder that everyone is accountable for their fair share. You might want to purchase a white board so that the jobs can be changed according to a rotation, or erased when completed.

Compromise is the key to harmony in the home. You will find that everyone is a lot happier when no one feels overworked and underappreciated!

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