Friday, July 1, 2011

Focus Fridays! Division of Labor Among Parents

In today’s day and age, we are seeing such a shift in roles of what parents are doing in a family.  Long gone are the days of Mom having dinner on the table at 5:00 with the kids bathed and lip stick on when Daddy arrives.  Instead, we live in an age where men want to be more involved in parenting and women want to be more involved in a life outside of the house.  We are seeing both women and men staying at home to raise the kids and many stay at home parents are also working a paying job while the kids are napping or go to another job when the other parent comes home. 

The good part of this change in society mindset is that both parents are much more involved in their children’s lives and also still feeling like they have a life outside the home.  The difficult part is that parents are now putting so much on their plates that they have trouble juggling it all. 
We see this often in our home.  My husband works full time in a stressful job.  He rushes home to have quality time and dinner before our daughter goes to bed.  Then, he tries to fit in a workout (or play with his softball team) After that, he comes home and either does more work on the computer for his full time job or researches information for the startup company he is doing on the side (in an effort to raise money for a shore house).  On the weekends he is often coupon clipping (yes, my husband clips our coupons and does our grocery shopping!) and spending quality time with us as well as extended family.
As for myself, I am home with our daughter every day.  I spend 3 days taking care of 2 other children in our home while also taking care of my daughter and trying to get some rest since I am 8 months pregnant.  I also work 3 mornings a week at a fitness center (in the babysitting room) so I can get free membership and make a few extra bucks.  In addition, I maintain this blog (to keep my sanity) and also hopefully start a career in writing or journalism when my children are in school.  I am also trying to make money some money blogging so we can have a beach house (but I am not succeeding in the making money pert yet!)  Lastly, I am spending a lot of my time trying to learn more about money and finances so that I can be more involved and in control of how and where my families money is spent (which I have not been in the past).
Just like every other couple with kids, we are trying to share duties and responsibilities and also set boundaries with each other in a respectful way.  There’s constantly a never ending to do list and we often are on different pages about who is doing what and how much is on the other person’s plate.  Does this sound familiar?  We both have a habit of getting overextended and resentful toward one another when we put too much on our plate. 
1.       Being clear about goals.  While it’s common to have differences in what we think 'may need to be done urgently', it’s important that both people are on the same page for what the overall goals may be.  Having these conversations about our gooals is very important so that both partners are reminded that they are working toward the same outcome.
A conversation started may be “I know that we both want to make sure our family is healthy, happy, and financially secure (for example) but I feel like we are not communicating well about how to achieve those goals.  What can we do differently?"
or simply, “I need more help at home.  I feel very overwhelmed.  What can we do?”   
2.       Going to church (or spend time with whatever higher power you believe in).  Whatever your spiritual belief is, it’s helpful to take some time every week to remind yourself that you can’t be in control of everything all the time and sometimes it’s helpful to allow yourself to let go.
3.        Set boundaries.  Take time OFTEN to tell your spouse what you need.  No, you are not a nag! This is what people do to keep sane and ask for the help that they need!
4.       Make a list of what each person is doing on a daily basis so that both of you can see the big picture.

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