Parenting during covid is difficult. Being a good partner while staying home together around the clock, is kinda challenging. Being great at both parenting and partnership, at the same time, requires deft maneuvering. Throw in a global pandemic, and many of the struggles two-parent households are experiencing shine in glaringly bright light.
Life is burning many of us out right now. We have stress, anxiety, guilt, and mental overload. We’re bone-tired. We’re sad. We’re missing a lot. Some of us are beginning to rage because everything appears to be setting us up to fail.
To make matters worse, there isn’t a guidebook to pulling off being a parent, home educator, day care, personal chef, maid service, and employee all at the same time. As a result, we’re seeing that none of this can, or should, be done by one person.
On a positive note, it’s possible this time will forever redefine our roles in the home and our relationships with our spouses. Simply put, sheltering-in-place together has answered the question around what we do in a day. We’ve always juggled a lot but there’s less curiosity about what the other parent has done, is doing, and will do for the family.
So ask yourself:
- Who’s the default parent in your child’s eyes?
- Are you happy with how well you work with your partner to tackle the never-ending list?
- Do you fairly split the domestic work in (and out of) your home with someone else?
Bringing Back The Partner In Your Partnership
- Changing the dynamic with your spouse is a difficult conversation to have, but it’s worth having. Most folks will react positively to a direct approach, an explicit and collaborative request for help.
- How you communicate directly affects the way you are heard in the world. This also holds true in your own home. It’s important to be thoughtful in your approach. Deliver your ask for help in a way that engages and invites your partner to have a conversation with you. To start you might say, “All this time at home has me thinking about how we run our house and manage the kids. I think we both see how much it takes. I’m wondering if there’s a way to make things feel easier, so we can get stuff done faster. Want to make some time to talk about later?”
- Know your intention going into the conversation so you can manage the outcome. You’re asking for a true collaborator in the system, so put some value behind it. Give them a reason for buying-in to the plan so there’s mutual understanding. For example, your partner may be really happy to hear that buying into this will bring you more happiness, that you’ll be a more fulfilled spouse. Or they may be happy to hear that they’ll finally be taking the lead on certain things.
- There needs to be a clear division of who’s doing what, and when, to maximize efficiency and minimize disappointment. Trust matters, so give your partner space to take care of things from start to finish.
- Last but not least, this is an ongoing conversation with your spouse. It’s about teamwork and the mutual respect you have for one another. These discussions should help your relationship grow, not wilt.
When couples habitually choose to divide and conquer their to-do list, they are choosing a new way to talk about what they need. They’re recognizing that time is precious and by creating household efficiencies, there’s space in the day for what matters. Like laughing and having fun. And lots of snuggles.
Mark and I talk household/kid-stuff regularly so nothing is left up for interpretation. We do this every day while making the bed in the morning or while we’re having breakfast. Important dates and details are added to a shared calendar so the person responsible for that to-do has all they need to pull it off without bothering the other person for information. We have a reliable system for literally everything and often a backup plan for when the system breaks. While it took time for both of us to fall into this way of life, we now unapologetically rely on it, and as a result are less exhausted by day-to-day adulting.
We’re raising Archie and Lou together. They’re five and one and a half years old. I run two companies, this one and Rover-Time. Mark works full time in sales and is the breadwinner of our household. Like most parents, I’m not totally sure I’m doing everything right with my kids. When I feel like a mom that should be doing more for everyone, I take a look at my family from an outward perspective.
Here’s what I observe: I see Mark raising two boys without any stereotypes of toxic masculinity. In turn, they see his full, vulnerable heart and this helps their emotional development. They also see two dependable people managing the mundane-to-the-outrageous for our home, while juggling their careers and hobbies. This is valuable modeling for their future, one where there isn’t a helper parent but an equal partnership while parenting. I’d even dare to say we’re creating new patterns to make life a little more fair one day. At least that’s my hope.
If you could use a hand dividing and conquering
your never-ending get in touch.
I’d love to hear from you.
- What has life at home, during covid, taught you so far?
- How has it changed your relationship with your partner for the better or worse?
Share what you can. Add your experiences and best practices directly in the comments. Thank you so much for reading, for your candidness, and for helping others by doing so!