We live in the modern age. An age where men and women should be equal. Where we’re striving to close the pay gap, get more women in the board room and ensure women get treated the same as men.
And that’s absolutely how it should be (staunch feminist over here btw).
And equality is something that should be present in a relationship too. You’re a partnership. A team. No one person should have to take on more of a burden than the other. You should contribute equally to the relationship and find the perfect balance of give and take.
And that’s absolutely possible. At least when you don’t have kids…
So here’s the thing. We all know that most women do more than men when it comes to running a house or looking after kids. And it’s easy to assume that it’s because men aren’t pulling their weight (and don’t get me wrong – a lot of them don’t!). but actually, with three kids myself, I know that sometimes it’s because equality is just not possible.
Let’s look at some examples;
During the week I do the washing up at least 3 times a day, if not 4 (or 5 with baby bottles). My husband generally doesn’t do any washing up at all. On the face of it this seems unbalanced. In reality though it’s just sensible. What would be the alternative? Leave half of the dirty dishes on the side ready for my husband to get home? Not exactly practical.
Also I do the majority of the night feeds. But then I’m not the one getting up at half six to go to work. I can go back to bed (and do frequently). My husband will do the night feeds any night that he is not in work the next day but as he works 5 days a week this is 2 at the most.
Or if I wasn’t earning, my husband would be the one paying all of the bills for the family. I wouldn’t be able to contribute equally and so financially things would be unbalanced.
So in a nut shell, no equality may not be possible after a baby. But that’s OK!
Let’s change the way we think about equality
When we think about equality initially it seems to mean splitting everything equally or being able to do/have/be the same as our partners. That’s why it can be hard after a baby. It’s difficult for you both to have high flying careers. Splitting the housework in half when one of you is home all day seems a bit silly. Both of you getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby – not so sensible really.
But what about if we look at things differently. What about if we think about the outcome being that parenting is a partnership, rather than equal. That both of you are working towards the same thing – happy baby, happy relationship, happy home and being able to achieve what you want to in your respective lives.
Having a happy family requires lots of different things. You need money to support it. Someone needs to cook, clean, wash and care for everyone in it. You probably have a house to run too. And shopping to do. Chores, errands or visits to get done. Everyone needs to contribute fairly but you don’t necessarily need to do half of each thing.
Equality is about things being fair just as much as they are about things being equal. So if it’s fair that you do more of the washing because you’re in the house each day or your partner pays more for the holiday than you because he’s bringing in more cash then that’s OK.
Remember, the most important thing is to make sure there’s no resentment between you or that one person isn’t being made to do more than they should. Work as a team and split things up however works for you both. And don’t worry about what other couples do. It’s your family so you do things in whatever way you like.
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