Who Does What: Increasing Equality After Baby Arrives

Who Does What_ Increasing Equality After Baby Arrives Maine Doulas.png

New Baby, New Frustrations

With a new baby, there are great intentions about sharing responsibilities, but a reality that is just starting to get more attention is that two-parent heterosexual households are still not equal.

With having a husband being shown to add 7 hours of housework to a to-do list, a big worry of women is how they are supposed to take care of a baby and do everything else?

The answer is that women aren’t. So the way to make that happen is starting hard conversations. Conversations that have probably been long in the making. And talks like these are scary because they can go wrong so quickly.

Wanting to change the dynamic of a household means something, but change can’t happen unless everyone is on board. Sure, somethings can change without having conversations, but that is usually a short term battle of passive-aggressive choices to leave tasks undone, and postponing the inevitable - talking it out.

Some Language

Experts agree that discussing how you are feeling is more productive than blaming a person for not doing a task or attacking their character.

"Tell them you feel anxious, trapped, burdened, worried, alone, ignored, invisible, unappreciated, sad, or distant when you do it all and how you really don't want to feel that way," she said. "If you get your communication right, your partner will respond with empathy and compassion." - Alicia H Clark

Stop doing things. Not passive aggressively - but stop doing things compulsively. There is usually an "over-functioning" partner that compulsively attends to the task. It can be just as hard for this partner to learn some things don't need to be done, as it can be for the other partner to start doing more.

"This new baby is amazing but also really difficult. We both want to be connected to the new life that's joined our family but also be connected and stay sexual beings with one another. Let's be in this soup together; you and me against the world." - Laura Silverstein

Invisible Task List

One of the many direct conversations that have to happen is defining what the tasks are. And that is one of the problems. It is easy to agree that the obvious tasks with a new baby will be feeding, changing diapers, burping and holding, but if that were the problem alone, this would be an "easy fix."

However, life doesn't stop.

  • Who takes out the garbage?

  • Who makes sure there is toilet paper?

  • Who RSVPs to parties and events? Who cooks?

  • Who washes and folds laundry?

It's the entire life together that gets rearranged, and maybe you need to make a checklist. Perhaps it needs to be ridiculously long so all the jobs can be seen, at once, on paper. It may be the first time your partner can begin to understand what your day to day life looks like and vice versa.

Once the list exists, each person can have clear expectations of what each person is responsible. Also, for situations about preference, such as water glasses should live next to the sink and not in the middle of the counter - well, there may be some give and take. The important part is that you have started talking about it all.