Moms are notorious for trying to do it all. Take care of the kids, make the appointments, keep the house in order, and the list goes on. It’s the main thing I hear from friends, read about on social media, and see on television: Moms feel like they must do it all on their own. This eventually takes a huge toll on a momma’s mental health. Why aren’t more families talking about this with one another and splitting responsibilities more fairly?
As someone who is naturally a take-charge person, I will admit splitting parenthood and household duties didn’t always come easy to me. This is something I’ve had to actively work on throughout marriage and parenthood. Because of this, I’m a huge advocate for open communication as often as possible. This allows our household to reevaluate how things are working (or not working) and adjust accordingly. I’m sharing helpful tips for how to begin splitting responsibilities in your own household in a way that works for you and your partner!
How to Split Responsibilities with Your Partner
1. Start the conversation when you’re both calm and collected.
Don’t wait until you are already at a point of frustration feeling like you’re doing too much to have a conversation about responsibilities. I can guarantee it won’t be received well. I would suggest telling your partner that you would like to discuss the division of responsibilities in the near future. This will give them time to think about what they need as well. Scheduling a date to have this conversation ensures you both will have time to come into this conversation levelheaded and without emotional ties or defenses.
Before this conversation, brainstorm what you want to talk about so it can be most productive. It’s important to remember that most people’s expectations of household and life responsibilities are made from what we witnessed growing up. Be mindful of this and allow both your partner and you ample time to give their input and be heard.
2. Take an inventory of every responsibility that needs to be accounted for.
The following household chores need to be divided up:
- lawn care
- trash and recycling
- grocery shopping
These clerical tasks needed to be divided up:
- medical/dental/eye/hair appointments
- medication refills
- pet responsibilities: feeding, walking, grooming, health appointments, etc.
- automotive maintenance
- home repairs
- sorting mail
- bill pay
The following child-related tasks need to be split:
- drop off and pick up for school/activities
- organizing and communicating with extracurricular activities
- preparing lunches and snacks
- administering vitamins/medications
- childcare – weekdays and weekends
- morning routine – getting up, getting dressed, fed
- mid-day – activities, snacks, nap times
- evening routine – fed, bath, bedtime routine
- overnight – if you have a baby; who is changing diapers, feeding, washing bottles and/or pump parts, etc.
- sick days – who picks up and cares for your child if the school calls when your child is sick or injured
- updating clothing and shoes – replacing when outgrown and storing or donating old items
- family archivist – taking pictures and videos, making albums, printing photos, etc.
These calendar management tasks need to be divided:
- organizing play dates
- managing communication with the school(s) – parties, activities, projects, etc.
- birthday party planning and organizing – parties, presents, food, etc.
- holiday time planning and organizing – parties, presents, food, etc.
- vacation or travel planning and organizing – packing, hotel/place to stay, activities, food, etc.
It is possible that responsibilities can be rotated between partners periodically if that works better for your lifestyle.
3. Decide how you will split responsibilities.
Sit down and have a conversation about each responsibility. This will look different for each family and what they are comfortable with. Make sure to take into consideration the time each responsibility takes and how often it has to be done. Daily tasks should be balanced versus responsibilities that only take place biannually or annually.
My husband and I have our responsibilities split with the sidenote that even before we had a baby, we each had specific things we did or rotated doing. Our roles in our home are a bit less traditional than many couples and we’ve always been like that. My husband leaves for work early even before I wake up 99% of the time, which means mornings fall solely on me. Getting the dogs settled, my son woken up, breakfast, dressed, and out the door is all my responsibility by default. Three out of the five workdays, I pick our son up after work, and the other two days my husband does. This is also due to our work schedules. And if possible, don’t forget to include the kids in any responsibilities they are capable of helping with!
4. Make sure it works for both of you.
Make sure that when you split responsibilities that it works for both of you. This can be done by being honest about how you feel. How they are divided will depend on work schedules and lifestyles mainly. It will also depend on what each partner enjoys doing and what they would prefer not to do. For example, my husband enjoys cooking it and gives me anxiety. Therefore, it makes sense for him to do the cooking when possible and for me to only do it when needed. And because I do not enjoy cooking, I do other tasks — like doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen — in order to balance out our responsibilities. In the end, both partners need to be in agreement!
In my home, my husband usually does bath time with our son while I do the dishes and clean the kitchen. This gives him extra time with our son since I get to spend more time with him. If I finish cleaning quickly, I also start a load of laundry or put laundry away. I also lay out the next day’s clothing for my son and tidy up the house while my husband makes our son’s lunch after our son is in bed. On weekends my husband gets up with our son and lets me sleep or stay in bed a little longer. Because he typically plays golf or hunts on the weekend, this is our trade-off. Overall, we both clean the house, plan meals, order groceries, pick up, and put away laundry together as much as time allows.
5. Hire help when possible.
Hiring help can be so beneficial if it is something that is within your budget. We pay someone to mow our lawn weekly and it saves us a lot of time making it worth it to us. We also use a meal prep home delivery service some weeks for a dinner or two that we find convenient. Other ideas for help: housekeeping services, dog walking and grooming, grocery delivery, laundry services, and babysitters. Outsource where you can to make the most of your time!
6. Record exactly who oversees what responsibilities to eliminate confusion.
When it comes time to plan everything out make sure you take down who will be attending to what responsibilities either electronically or in written form. This will help keep your household organized and can serve as a reminder for who is expected to complete certain tasks. If your children are old enough to take part in helping with any responsibilities, I suggest you add them as well. This will help take the load off you and your spouse while teaching them responsibility. Even though my son isn’t quite two yet we are still teaching him to help pick up toys and clean his high chair tray after meals. Start small and work up from there with your own children. You will be impressed with how much they can help!
7. Frequently reassess responsibilities and make changes as needed.
Making sure the responsibilities are split fairly will strengthen your partnership as well as your role as a parent. It will also help prevent burnout on a daily basis. Make sure to frequently revisit and assess how things are going. It should be an ongoing line of communication between both partners in order to make it successful! Don’t be afraid to revise responsibilities according to job schedules or just life in general.
Overall, make sure the line of communication stays open between you and your partner. In terms of everyday life and taking care of responsibilities that this is key! I also believe in giving affirmations to your spouse that show you appreciate everything they do. Personally, when I feel appreciated it makes doing daily tasks and responsibilities much easier and more pleasant. You feel like a team and that you are accomplishing things together for the betterment of your family.