Thriving Relationships//

How to Divide and Conquer Child Care Responsibilities With Your Partner

No parenting class has likely prepared you for this.

Getty Images
Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic is shifting the dynamics of work, parenting, and the home. With these changes comes new (or amplified) sources of stress, especially for women, who regardless of whether they work outside the home, bear two-thirds of the work it takes to run a household and a family. That’s where Fair Play comes in — a system created by organizational management expert Eve Rodsky that helps couples rebalance domestic responsibilities so that both people in the relationship can thrive. In this series, Rodsky will draw on her knowledge from creating Fair Play, and offer tips to empower you and your partner to share the load while navigating this new normal together. 

The kids are home from school, parks and playgrounds are closed, playdates are off limits, and your teenagers are bored and have nowhere to go. No parenting class or meditation practice has likely prepared you for this, but there is a way to balance the childcare demands during this time of increased togetherness. 

First, there are four main areas for you and your partner to plan around:

Friendships and social media         

Socialization and friendships are meaningful connection points for your kids. Since they cannot see their friends at school, your children may require more attention and creativity these days. Consider building virtual playdates into your family’s schedule. Tools like Zoom, Google hangouts, House Party and Facebook Messenger Kids make it easy for your kids to interact with their friends. 

Discipline and screen time

Setting limits and boundaries for kids is a team effort. Both partners should take turns on who takes the lead monitoring and enforcing those rules on any given day. This requires ongoing collaboration, especially now when there’s likely an increase of social media use in your house.

Homework and homeschooling 

Schools are closed but your kids still need to learn, right? How much “home school” time are you scheduling into their days? Who’s taking the lead on lesson plans, distance learning, and daily homework? You’re soon about to find out why teachers live for summer. Work out a weekly schedule with your partner where you each take an area to work on with your children.

Watching

You thought tending to and entertaining your toddler for the hours before and after daycare was exhausting? Try all day every day with no breaks. Teenagers pose a different challenge. They don’t want your attention, nor do they find you remotely entertaining. Your job now is to be on “watch” so they don’t sneak out and break stay-in-place orders.

To manage these four areas, have a thoughtful conversation with your partner tonight (when emotion is low and cognition is high) where you discuss the needs of your kids and what values are most important. Ask each other: What is important to your family? What do you want to focus on (and not focus on) during these weeks of social distancing where you’re all at home? Make intentional choices that best serve your children based on your family values, and reevaluate those choices often to ensure that you and your partner are splitting the load, and are each digging into some of the hardest work as parents.  

Microstep
Before bed each night, acknowledge one thing your partner did during the day.
That’s how invisible work becomes visible, and how we can begin to make intentional choices about what we do and don’t do as a couple, based on what’s really important.

Up Next: How to Get Your Kids In The Game.

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