The Lost City of Alantis. Bigfoot. The Fountain of Youth. The perfect bra. These are just some of the legendary things it would be lovely to find. But, surely, no goal is more desired (or elusive) than an equitable division of labor between parents. Specifically between moms and dads. Because if research, internet thinkpieces, and moms crying to each other via text or in Facebook parenting groups are to be believed, not only are almost none of us finding it, but women are bearing the brunt of the workload.
Part of the problem with finding true balance is that there is no one recipe. Balance for a family with a working parent and a stay-at-home parent is going to look different from, say, a family with two working parents. But part of dealing with the issue is first understanding it... and I think a lot of people *cough cough dads cough cough* haven't really grasped it yet. (Of course #NotAllDads, but enough that this has officially risen to the level of An Issue.) And why haven't they grasped it yet? Because, frankly, they don't know what they don't know and they've gotten away with not knowing for a while. No longer.
So how well are you doing... or how much do you have to step it up? Here are...
- +1 for every question you answer "No"
- -1 for every question you question you answer "Yes." Note: You can only answer "Yes" if this is something you do 1) without being asked, reminded, or directed and 2) at approximately the same rate as your partner. So, for example, if you do the dishes every night but only because your partner reminds you to do them you only get half credit. If you get up with the baby one time for every three your partner does, also half credit.
- If a question doesn't apply to you, just skip it; if it applied to you at one point answer based on past behavior. For example, if your child currently sleeps through the night, answer based on what you did when you didn't.
- This is not scientific or a final judgment, but, like Seventeen quizzes of yore (we're talking hours of my life), a way for you to see where you are on this egalitarian journey and prompt discussion that can lead to positive conversations and growth... also, hopefully, a way to show you everything your partner is doing that you don't even notice and should because she is exhausted.
- I notice when my child needs something done for them throughout the natural course of a day — a snack, feeding, diaper change — and do it for them.
- I initiate bath time.
- I initiate my child's bedtime routine.
- I notice when my child needs a haircut and take them to the barber/hairdresser.
- I know how to care for my child's hair on a day-to-day basis.
- I know my child's pediatrician's name.
- I know my child's pediatric needs and schedule.
- I know what to pack my child for a day at school or daycare and do so.
- I know what to pack my child for a trip or vacation and do so.
- I get my child dressed and ready in the morning and/or when we need to go out.
- When my child wakes up at night, I get up with them.
- I menu plan and shop for groceries accordingly.
- I purchase necessary items for my child when notice they need something, such as clothes when they outgrow their old ones, diapers, formula, a new car seat, etc.
- I care for my child when they are sick, even if that requires me to take off work.
- I am aware of what my child is doing in school and help them with projects, homework, and other educational activities.
- I research, enroll in, and coordinate transportation for my child's extracurricular activities.
- I know when childcare bills (daycare or school tuition or nanny/sitter) are due and pay them accordingly.
- I coordinate my child's social calendar (play dates, birthday parties, and so on).
- I communicate with my child's teacher and/or caregiver.
- When company comes over I make preparations (cooking, cleaning) including childcare (e.g., your child needs to be fed earlier, put to bed).
- When visiting family and friends, I am engaged in childcare (aka you're not sitting and relaxing while your partner is watching the kids).
- When my partner and I have a date night or time away, I arrange childcare.
- I do not rely on my partner leaving instructions for me regarding childcare when she goes out.
- I plan outings (including vacations, if applicable), for the family.
- I proactively see if there are chores to be done around the house or for my child.
- Before asking my partner a question about our child or household management, I attempt to figure it out myself.
- I am generally aware and/or keep track of events on the family calendar.
~Musical interlude to tally your score~
How Did You Do?
-27 to - 20: Look at you! All proactive and pretty darn egalitarian! Well done.
-19 to -1: You're trying, and that's important, but you're starting to realize there's a lot you rely on your partner for. Check in and see where your efforts would be most appreciated.
0 to +20: The first thing you should do is thank your partner because, clearly, she's carrying a lot of responsibility around in that invisible backpack of hers. Just imagine what your house, family, and career would be like if shrugged it off.
+21 to +27: Son, you're on the thinnest of ice. But it's never too late — you can take this test again and again until you get the result your partner deserves.