Thursday, September 2, 2010
Sharing parenting duties and pleasures between spouses is very rewarding. We are big fans of team parenting and truly believe that kids can only benefit from that.
While families have different routines, here are 5 keys to making team parenting work. By Liesl Jurock for Hybrid Mom:
1. Letting go of the stereotypes
Society loves to paint the picture of SuperMom and IncompetentDad, and it is easy to allow these ideas to infect the way you parent. In team parenting, one parent can’t have more authority than the other. Mom can’t be teaching or judging Dad, and Dad can’t be seen as the helper or babysitter, as sometimes happens in traditional families. It can be difficult for moms to let go and for dads to step up, because expectations have been programmed into women and men from a young age. But it’s critical for both parents to get on equal ground, and to call each other when the balance sways one way or the other.
2. Constant communication
Communication is a necessary tool in any successful marriage and family, but it can be an exhausting practice in an already busy life. Since both Hubby and I are both capable of doing everything in team parenting, we don’t make assumptions about who will take care of what. From the logistics of childcare, to the division of household responsibilities, to discussions on child-rearing, we need to negotiate everything that comes up. For example, when kids get sick, it’s often moms who take time off work to take care of them. For us, it’s up to the parent who has more flexibility in their job at the time to deal with things.
3. It’s about more than parenting
For team parenting to work, you have to incorporate a team approach to the rest of family life too. The biggest area to address is around housework – where one parent usually takes on the lion share because they are better at it, care more about it, or are accustomed to doing it. No one really likes doing housework, so there has to be a division of labor that both parents agree upon and follow through on. The other loaded subject is money. If one parent feels they are contributing more in terms of income or time worked, it is difficult for both parents to feel equal, and some kind of agreement will have to be made.
4. Equal does not mean being the same
Just as on any team, not all players fill the same role or have the same strengths and weaknesses. Plan your roles to build on each other’s strengths and preferences. For example, I enjoy working outside so don’t mind taking on some of the gardening duties, though Hubby is fully capable of pruning back a plant if needed. On the flip side, if Daddy has a harder time putting the toddler to bed, he must be allowed to figure it out for himself, which means Mommy has to step aside and let that happen. Of course, this is easier said then done, particularly when everyone is tired.
5. Supporting each other’s personal interests
Finally, we all need some “me-time” amidst the chaos of parenting. By making sure each parent has personal time to recharge, you’ll all benefit. One strategy is to divide time evenly to ensure a fair distribution of time away from the family. In our house, we don’t take score, but we try and each take an evening a week to do our own things. And because we’re lucky to have family who will take care of child, we also try and have a date night together once a month that is just about having fun.
There are no clear instructions for team parenting, but that means you get to make up the rules together that work for your unique family, just as we have done.
Sources: Hybrid Mom and Shine