The arrival of a baby into a family is a big deal. Whether it is your first or third baby, adding another human to your family will cause ripples of change. One of the most significant changes is in the managing of domestic responsibilities.
The laundry load increases, as does the cleaning, eating, appointment making, shopping, and the list continues.
Aside from how exhausting it can be to do these tasks, there is also a noticeable increase in the mental energy it takes to remember to delegate these tasks.
That’s why it’s essential to learn to split the domestic load, ideally before birth.
The problem: how the domestic load becomes uneven
While the focus is often on planning for the baby, the reality is that families need more support in caring for the baby. Also, learning how to juggle the everyday domestic tasks and keep the household running.
As parents, we can – and should – all share the juggling of household responsibilities. It’s not up to one parent to shoulder the majority.
These tasks need to get done, and unfortunately, what happens after birth is that one parent is often left with more of the juggle.
This uneven sharing of tasks may start gradually at first. One parent may be on leave from work to care for the baby, and since they are home, they may start taking on the domestic responsibilities more than the other parent.
However, when the parent returns to work, household responsibilities are not rearranged for a more even split. This is regardless of if both parents are actively working and engaged in their own lives.
Tips for sharing the domestic load after birth
Let’s dive in on some tips and points to think about when splitting the domestic responsibilities. Check out four helpful tips – and resources – below.
1. Have an intentional conversation
Start by picking a specific date and time to communicate about the domestic load with your partner.
We’ve all been there when the dishes are piling up, and the kids are crying, wanting yet another snack, and you lose it. You feel overwhelmed with the weight of juggling it all, and you may say aloud or think to yourself, “No one helps me. Why do I have to do everything?”.
Arguments are likely to occur during this transition with your partner, and to be honest; these arguments are not productive. Yes, they may communicate how you feel, but both parties may often be too charged to have this necessary conversation.
Set an intentional date and time to discuss the domestic load with your partner. Add it to the family calendar, put a post-it on the fridge, or do whatever you need.
Bonus points: if you can make it a date with you and a partner, do it! This is a neutral time where you and your partner will discuss domestic responsibilities and hear each other’s points of view.
2. Write out your domestic responsibilities
While you may understand what you do around the home, sometimes, we fail to see what our partner does around the house. This is an excellent time to discuss what needs to be done and critical priorities for a more equitable split.
I’m a pen and paper gal, but you can use Excel or purchase a done-for-you household chore list for your family. Whatever you decide to use, this list will provide a more detailed understanding of domestic responsibilities and essential to your family.
Resource tip: Eve Rodsky, who wrote the book on balancing the domestic load called Fair Play, has an entire deck of cards that describe most of the responsibilities in the family. She has done all the hard work for you to encourage having these responsibility conversations about splitting the domestic load more evenly.
3. Realistically assign tasks
Now that you have a list of household functions, talk to each other about the expectations of completing these domestic chores consistently. Be honest about how much each of you can realistically handle.
These essential responsibilities need to be done, so there’s no complete opting out.
However, perhaps you and your partner decide to outsource some of the required tasks, such as:
- Hiring a regular house cleaner
- Getting groceries delivered
- Sending your laundry out for washing
- Using a daily dog walker
The possibilities are endless.
Remember, there is no one way to get these tasks done.
What works for your family may not work for another, so speaking with – and finding an agreement with – your partner about how your family will get these tasks done is crucial.
4. Release control once assigned
Once it’s assigned or delegated, it’s off your plate. I know it’s tempting to offer some “helpful” tips for doing a specific task, but honestly, your partner is most likely not finding the unsolicited information helpful.
Try to focus on completing your tasks and keeping the faith that your partner will do theirs. There will be an opportunity to reevaluate and see how each of you did.
Often I suggest that regular check-ins are scheduled between you and your partner, so you can discuss the domestic juggle and ask for help if needed. It can be easy to jump in and do the task, but honestly, that’s not going to help in the long term if you are working towards a more even split.
The goal: focus on your task list and use the check-ins to revisit if the new setup is working.
Final words on sharing the domestic load after birth
While this may seem like a well-thought-out strategy, the reality is that it will take a few tries to get sharing the domestic load just right for your family.
And that is okay! Just as with parenthood, there is a learning curve in this process, and I want to encourage you to continue communicating with your partner until you find what works for your family. You’ve got this!