We are 4 months away from getting our first child, and are getting a little bit anxious on how we will be able to deal with the situation.
Would you have practical recommendations on how to divide the tasks between the two parents so that the roles are clear in advance and that we can be prepared to handle the challenging moments?
There are some things that fairly obviously fall to a specific parent - for example fathers rarely breastfeed. But apart from that it really does depend on what works for your family.
Is there going to be one parent who is home all day with the child whilst the other is out at work all, or will there be some days each? Or will the child be cared for by someone who is neither parent during the day while both work?
If every day is basically the same arrangement then there could be particular tasks that the same parent always does - for example, in our house Dad always does bath time. If, on the other hand, there are different arrangements on Tuesdays from Thursdays, you may need to have different tasks on different days.
The other thing to remember is that as the child grows, roles may change, and other circumstances may change. Perhaps whilst the child is young, Mum may be breastfeeding, and so night-time wakings are best dealt with by her. But when the child is older and doesn't need that any more, perhaps it may be better if Dad deals with night-time wakings, or maybe alternate nights might work.
Even though looking after a small child is not usually intellectually challenging, it is relentless. If one of you has spent all day looking after the child, they probably need a break - even if it's not to rest, but to make the dinner or put the washing away. Also, looking after a very small baby can make it very hard to do anything else. Don't expect to also do housework, you might manage some if you're lucky, but don't expect it.
Of course, what you decide now may change when baby is actually here and you are faced with the reality of a tiny bundle who you've fallen in love with but won't follow the plans you had laid out.
answered 13 Feb '11, 10:59
I was listening to a review about the book Spousonomics and I guess the gist of the book is that chores should be allocated to the person who can do them faster. Start by picking the chores with the biggest time discrepancy and allocating those first. Towards the end, if one person ends up with an imbalance, put the last few allocated onto the other person to balance the loads.
That will minimize the time spent doing chores, which leaves more time for proactive stuff.
answered 05 Mar '11, 21:05