Duty calls: how to split up household and parental duties when parents return to work full-time

The age-old division of labor based on gender is now obsolete. Now, more than ever, there are more stay-at-home dads, working mothers, and both parents working full-time. This can create a sticky situation between couples when it comes to divvying up household chores and parental duties. What is more important than dividing up duties by quantity is the perception each partner has of their cut of the pie.

Communication is key. Talk to your significant other about what responsibilities you would like to have ideally and try to reach a middle ground.

If you are the stay-at home parent, your presence at home is just as valuable as your spouse’s time at work, even if you do not earn a cent in the process. Just as you could not stay home if it weren’t for their income, they could not work as they do if it weren’t for you taking care of the children and everything else that goes with it. Both roles are equally important to sustain a functional household. If both parents work full-time, make a list of all possible responsibilities and decide who can do what based on time commitment, schedule, and comfort zone. Many women complain feeling overwhelmed with too many responsibilities as a mother, wife, and a professional. These are the moments to speak with your spouse about what can be done to either forego some things or rearrange others so that everyone feels less stressed and overwhelmed. Remember, the parental unit is the key to a happy home. Each one of you needs to feel supported, loved, and respected to return those emotions to your spouse and in turn to your children.

Here are some questions to ask when managing the division of chores in a harmonious manner:

  1. If both parents return to work, who will take care of the baby?
  2. Who will interview the nanny/daycare/ family member?
  3. Who will do the baby’s laundry?
  4. Who will prepare the baby’s food, or will you purchase prepared foods?
  5. Who will wash the baby’s bottles and/or pacifiers?
  6. Who will take the baby to doctor’s visits?
  7. If the baby goes to day care, who will manage drop off and pick up?
  8. Will you each have a car seat in your car?
  9. Who will take over the nightly routine of bathing, feeding, diapering, and sleep?
  10. Who will buy the baby’s necessities (clothes, diapers, wipes, ointments, formula)?
  11. Who will tend to the household chores (cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping)?
  12. Will you hire help?

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About Dr. Eva Benmeleh, Bundoo Child Psychologist

Dr. Eva Benmeleh is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialization in the 0-5 age range. She is also a certified lactation educator and helps mothers with breastfeeding issues in pediatric practices. She currently works in private practice in North Miami Beach, Florida.


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