Leveling the Parenting Playing Field
A few months ago two studies bounced around the web. The Pew Research Center conducted a study on parenting and discovered that most fathers feel that being a “father” is now harder than ever. In addition, the study goes on to say that almost all fathers who live with their children are taking an active role in their day-to-day lives.
However a few weeks later ForbesWomen.com and theBump.com released their own findings about motherhood. Stating that the vast majority of mothers surveyed felt “overwhelmed” and without enough parenting breaks. Twenty-four percent of working mothers and twenty-eight percent of stay-at-home moms said they feel like a “married single mom.”
Why such a discrepancy, are fathers really putting in more work at home?
As a working mom, I’m constantly feeling the pressure to not only work, but also manage the household and spend time with the family. Earlier in our marriage I often joked to friends and even wrote articles on how I felt like a single married mom. I would complain to girlfriends that my husband didn’t help around the house. Some days I was so frustrated that I could feel the resentment building.
But then I realized something, I wasn’t communicating my frustration with the one person that could help me with the situation, my husband.
If you are a living in a two-parent household then both parties should be contributing to that household in some way; if the responsibility is feeling one-sided then that needs to be communicated to your spouse. I firmly believe that communication, or lack of communication, is a major symptom to married single mom syndrome.
Here are some things we did to help level the playing field in the game of parenting:
- Split up household duties and stick to them. If one person does the cooking then another person should be doing the laundry.
- Never complain about how the other person handles their duties – this almost guarantees they won’t do it again. If your spouse doesn’t put the measuring cup in its dedicated space, just be happy it was put away.
- Split up the night time routine. Take turns monitoring bath time and reading books to the kids.
- Homework and other school-related activities should be handled by both parents. Both parents should know what’s going on in their child’s school.
- Work together to set the rules of the house from the beginning. If the kids aren’t allowed to jump on the couch when dad’s not home but mom allows it, then that can cause stress in the relationship and can confuse the kids.
- Always make time for family time – with the ENTIRE family. Since my husband and I run a business together and also have individual contracts we are constantly working. We reserve from 5pm until the kids go to bed as “Kid Time.”
Another symptom of married single mom syndrome is feeling like you're spending all your time parenting and wondering if you will ever have time for yourself. Remind your spouse (and yourself) that you both need some “me time,” and that time should be scheduled just like you would handle any other appointment in your calendar.
I still have those mornings where I secretly hope my husband will get up early and take the kids out for the day; I now realize that will probably never happen unless I ask him to. No matter how much I wish he would just read my mind, I know he can’t. And I can’t blame him for not having that ability. Keeping an open line of communication with my husband makes our relationship as parents feels like a partnership, instead of a one-woman team.
Would you count yourself as a married single parent? How have you come to terms with the situation? How did you level the playing field?