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How to ensure equality after children?(49 Posts)
So I have lost count of the number of threads about partners not pulling their weight within the house and with childcare. Our baby is due soon and currently DH and I do equal amount of household stuff, with fairly strict division of who does what. I am planning to take a year off work and then maybe go part time. I read an article last year which suggested even in relationships where things were shared equally pre children that post children, even if both working the same hours Mums end up doing more of the work. How can I prevent this happening?
Not marry a w......
I'm sure some more helpful posts will b along soon
Thanks love. I seemed to have managed that one already.
some families have strict 'his' and 'her' jobs, others are more fluid. In situations where one partner is part time, it's generally assumed that they will do more of the household chores.
I found myself doing everything. Been a single mum for years now, partly a a result. So I'm not offering a success story!
I would suggest talking this through really carefully before the baby arrives.
I think that one of the pitfalls is that as a new mum you kind of WANT to do everything for your baby. Which can make it easy for the dad to step back and relax.
One of the things you can talk through is how he wants to be involved and how he can help - so breastfeeding is out but that's pretty much the only job that can't be shared. He can feed you, he can help you get enough sleep, he can sort out laundry and nappies and shopping.
Also - I really lost respect for my now-ex for ducking out. Having a very supportive, involved partner is a very good investment for him!
I really struggle to understand people who feel the need to divide jobs 'fairly'. If doing something isn't your job but it needs doing, what happens? Dh and I just do things as needed ie I think the floor needs doing so I hoover it. He fills he bin so he empties. Much simpler
Our daughter is 18 months and I took a year maternity leave. It just evolved for us. My husband was already doing all the cooking when I was pregnant so he continued and I tend to do the majority of the child stuff and he does the majority of the house stuff ( although he does still do his fair share with her).
I do agree with tea about just doing what needs doing, we don't allocate the jobs beforehand (although I am still breastfeeding so that one is all down to me)
Shared parental leave? We have the set up you describe - I took 11 months then went back 3 days p/w - very equal relationship overall but it's nearly impossible to hand back a fair share of the kid related stuff.
If DH had had sole responsibility for any stretch of time it would be more natural for him to sort dd's medical appointments, switch out too small clothes, prep her food etc. But as it is all that invisible grunt work still sits with me. Luckily we have a cleaner and he picks up a lot of other stuff that I hate doing so it just about works out but I see a lot of women doing all that stuff on top of their pre-baby workload and outside employment.
Don't become the family project manager... cf at least one current AIBU thread. He doesn't 'help' - you're both responsible for running the household.
I'm struggling with this too, I find it easier when both of us work (FT) as it's more clear cut then.
It's fair for the person on parental leave to do more, as you obviously have more time, but throw in a breastfed baby into the mix (and a toddler that doesn't sleep through) and it becomes about survival rather than division of labour.
One thing though: does it have to be you working part-time? Surely it would be fair for you to pick up more housework then? Can't you both work part-time instead?
In my experience, once one partner's career is compromised (for want of a better word), it snowballs from there. The main earner has to be prioritised, as they make more money - but the other person's career can't catch up, since the limited joint resources (like time) have been allocated to the main earner.
My advice would be to both scale back your careers while you have young kids, if you have to. If both jobs are equally important, it's a lot easier to make sure things at home are split evenly.
And for the love of God, let go of all notions of a Boden family... Embrace having low standards, it get easier with time
Also, as previous posters said, chose your children's father wisely...
If you're taking a year off work and returning part time, you won't ever have 'equality'. You'll both think you're doing more than the other as it's just not comparable; that's human nature.
If you want equality, share parental leave, go back to work full time, and make sure you're both contributing equally.
Conversely, why don't you return to full time work asap and let him parent full time?
Don't like either of those options? Well, you can't realistically expect 'equality' then. Sorry!
Thanks for the advice.
tea if say the recycling bin needed emptying I would say the recycling looks like it needs emptying soon. DH can put things off and I like to do things straight away, so if I did everything as soon as I saw it he would have nothing left. Obviously if he is busy with a lots of other stuff i would just do it.
That is a good question about part time. I guess it is because I earn less and as a classroom teacher I love being in the classroom and progressing in teaching means leaving the classroom so I don't want to progress. It is certainly something to think about.
Doing jobs as and when they arise only works if you both have very similar standards. We don't and I suspect that is not unusual. Also, the person in the house most is more likely to notice mess and is more impacted by it.
Then you can't expect 'equality'. Fairness on the other hand....
I think its just about communication really, both now before the baby arrives and then once you are living in your new set up.
I'm currently on maternity leave, with a 7 month old DD. Dh and I discussed our expectations thoroughly beforehand and its panned out generally very well.
I made it clear that I don't see myself as being "off work" but rather that I'm doing a different job - and this one is much harder and tiring than my professional one! So my priority is always taking care of dd while dh is out at work, if I get housework done during the day its a bonus.
Evenings and weekends we both care for DD and both do housework. He tends to do the hoovering, dusting, scrubbing etc. I tend to do shopping, cooking and laundry. But its pretty fluid really.
I do ALL the night feeds (entirely my choice) as I don't have to go off to work in the morning - if we've had a bad night then me and DD can gave a quiet day at home chilling out and resting. But dh says when I go back to work we should take turns with any night wakings.
So, just keep talking until you're both happy with the plan and keep talking afterwards to see how its working for you.
Thanks Gillian my DH knows that looking after baby will be job for the year. Although this is our first child so we don't know how difficult bring a parent will be I think when looking at our friends experiences that DH has less of an understanding of what it will be like than I do.
Does anybody have any suggestions of specific things to talk about or questions to ask of each other?
My DH took the last month of my maternity leave, and I went back to work. It made my return to work much easier, as we didn't need to worry about nursery straight away, and I came home to dinner on the table every night. And he had a nice month getting out and about with DC.
I'd definitely recommend it. It makes it easier to have fair expectations when you know a role reversal is coming (works both ways).
You don't have to strictly divide chores but I'd divide your workload into four.
Daytime looking after baby
Daytime full time work
Evening/night looking after baby
1/2 are one full time equivalent
3/4 need to be split as equally as possible. That's crucial because otherwise you end up on 24 hour baby duty PLUS everything domestic
It's really good you are thinking about this now. I wish I had.
I married a nice and good man, but it's difficult not to slide into roles and never come out of them - particularly when you take a long maternity leave.
Splitting the maternity leave is brilliant, if it's possible. I wish it had been around when I was off work as it will give your DH a much better idea of what needs to be done and also a stronger bond with your baby.
I actually found maternity leave mostly fine, apart from a few choice bits were DH was wondering about 2 weeks after DS was born when he could go back to his evening ( 7 -11) bridge class. I think I may have cried at that point - I cried at a lot of things though so it's hard to remember.
The crux point for me and in retrospect I would have handled it differently, was when I went back to work.
I was p/t but the worst type so 4 days week slightly shortened hours, with basically f/t expectations. I also did and still do all bar one of weekly pick ups and drop offs. I struggled along as best I could with a demanding job and pretty much all of the household chores, but things came to a head when I had medical problems about ttc DC2, and still seemed to be expected to manage everything at home and at work with a pretty demanding (aren't they all) toddler.
We resolved it in the end by my dropping hours and grade - my choice, but certainly a million miles away from when we first met as both earning the same in the same profession.
Will be interesting when DS goes to secondary as I'm planning to go back f/t then and there's no way I can pick up everything at that point so we'll need to discuss it again.
Anyway sorry long discourse - specific jobs are good and don't pick up his slack, shared parental leave if possible, renegotiate when you go back to work, p/t does mean to be fair you will do a bit more, but until your DC is old enough to go to school not a lot more as you'll be looking after your DC.
Good luck with it all.
Following with interest. I have a while to go and am less certain about what our plans are for the future after at least maternity leave (either of us could give up our jobs but we're not sure).
One thing that I have found very nice is that my DP has talked to his friends with young children a lot (probably more than we've talked about it as we're both clueless) and from what he says they seem to have given him very kind, balanced advice.
Talk about expectations and about how nothing is set in stone. Careers evolve and so does family life. Make decisions about childcare (when/if you return to work) together. Talk about money, is everything in joint names or separate - is now the time to change anything? Talk about hobbies and interests - do you do any, do you want to do any, how will this be achieved with a baby in the mix? Just keep talking!
Just discuss stuff but also do not become a martyr. My older sister just decided to get on with stuff and her DH never did a thing and is useless but she sort of became a second Mother to him. He was and is a lazy bugger but she enabled his behaviour by not challenging him, he would have starved if he had been married to me.
People have different standards I have known relationships where it's the man who takes the lead with housework because he has very high standards. It was very even in my household after DC when I worked FT. I'm not working now so for the first time I am chief cook and bottle washer. The pay off is I get tons of free time as DC are secondary school age.
I do more, DH has the grimmer but quick jobs that I hate as he doesn't have much time. So he is always on cat litter duty.
When on ML I did pretty much everything but I'm one of those annoying uber efficient types that does stuff at a million miles per hour. so I still had free time when on ML. I actually did a course two mornings a week and DS went in to nursery.
I refuse to do more than one hour of chores per day but I can get a lot done in an hour.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
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