6 tips and tricks for sharing the parenting load with your partner
When a child is born, a parent too is born. Though there are some innate parenting instincts that kick in, there is still a learning curve – especially when it comes to evolving your relationship with your partner. Often times we tend to only focus on the new addition to the family, rather than remembering that everything is new – including our relationship with our partner. Setting a strong foundation of mutual respect and understanding, and aligning on expectations ahead of time as much as possible can help you both navigate all the change that's taking place – not only for your child but for your relationship as well. We believe families function best when they have the right tools and resources to play as a team, so we're sharing some words of wisdom below.
Of course, nothing can truly be a "one size fits all" solution as every family and relationship is different, but we're hoping these six things will help you navigate this new territory when parenting together:
1) Seek to Understand
The truth is you will never 100% know how the other person feels, but you can try to sympathize. Once you somewhat get how your partner feels and/or the why behind how they act, you can not only help better, but begin to anticipate their needs. Talking about working together as a team is necessary, but is not always successful in driving the point home, especially if there is already tension. Here’s a few resources to help you get started:
- Fair Play by Eve Rodsky – In addition to her bestselling book, Eve has even developed an interactive card game that helps couples have productive conversations on how to share household responsibilities
- Couples Counseling for Parents – provides thought probing content for families
- How Not to Hate your Husband after Kids by Jancee Dunn – a provocative title, but a highly regarded resource for navigating the new parent phase with your partner
2) Celebrate Often
Even the small things! Whether you made it out the door with five minutes to spare or got all of the kids down at the same time, make sure you acknowledge those feats. Parenting is no joke. Try high fiving after you make it through a task. This not only boosts morale in a mental sense, but the physical touch and connection boosts mood as well. An after dinner drink before bed or a morning cup of coffee are also wonderful ways to celebrate together, if even for just five minutes.
3) Verbalize Gratefulness
Did your partner empty the diaper pail or prep the next round of bottles? Say thank you. This can be via text message or a brief mention over dinner. By acknowledging their actions, you are saying “I see you and I appreciate you.” Sure you’re both parenting, so one could argue that you don’t need to say thank you for something they “should do anyway”; however, that is the wrong attitude. Beginning with a poor state of mind will rarely result in a positive teammate experience. If you find this mindset occurring, go back to point one and seek to understand or at least meet them on neutral ground. Bonus: thank your partner in front of others too, especially your kids. You see this in sports when the MVP mentions the other players, as they were integral to their success.
4) Communicate Clearly
There will always be instances of misunderstanding; but, there are ways to ease the tension and lessen those issues. Plan a weekly family meeting to go over what the upcoming day(s) hold. This is where Hearth Display is useful as it lays out everything for everyone, since the entire family has access to it. This lets everyone in on what is scheduled and often avoids the “I already told you” scenario. We know that some tasks need to be assigned, like who needs to pick up who from school (use Hearth’s Task Manager for this!). Sure – there might be some days where someone “does more” than the other; however, it should even out in the long run so that both partners feel the distribution is equitable and fair. If it doesn’t, we suggest going back to the first step of seeking to understand, and using the Fair Play card deck to create a healthy environment to have a productive conversation together as a team.
5) Schedule Breaks
Do you ever truly get a break from parenting? No, but you can help each other do just that. Whether it is taking turns watching the kids while the other has night out with friends or is as simple as taking an uninterrupted nap on a Sunday afternoon, make time for these things. They will likely result in happier parents, which bolsters a better attitude, making parenting a * little * bit easier. You’re not “asking for permission” to do these things, rather leaning on each other for a little adult time. Don’t skip this step!
6) Accept Help
Know that you don't need to do it alone. We live in a society that often prides itself on how much we can do ourselves; this is why moms often get called super heroes instead of us actually providing support. However, you don’t have to do it all, nor should you. When someone asks to bring you dinner, accept it. If you need help on a certain evening, ask for some relief from someone outside your immediate family. If you don’t have any family or close friends around, the internet has made it very easy to connect with people near you. Use it to your advantage – and use Hearth's tools to help distribute tasks evenly across the family.
Good luck parenting, Hearth fam. It is one of the toughest, yet most rewarding out there. You’ve got this! If you liked this post, you’d probably also enjoy our articles on Balancing Life as the Original Family Planner and Using a Family Planner to Lighten the Load.