Working Couples: How to Fit in Responsibilities and Family Life

I can still remember walking into the house after struggling through a full day of work with a major head cold, my 4-year-old by my side. Even though I worked equally as hard as my husband, I was still in charge of daycare pick-up, not to mention cleaning the house, doing all of the shopping and getting dinner prepared and ready to go. The number of working parents is on the rise, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that 87.8 % of families with children had at least one parent in the workforce during 2012. A recent study by the Pew Research Center notes that 56 % of working mothers surveyed and half of the dads felt that balancing their work and family lives wasn’t easy. What’s a busy working mom – or dad – to do?

Finding ways to fit in home responsibilities such as chores and fun-filled family times is a juggling act that takes patience, understanding and the ability to stay organised.

#1 Communicate With Each Other

If you want to balance work, household responsibilities and caring for the kids, you and your spouse need to be on the same page. According to a survey by the Working Mother Research Institute, 70% of Generation X moms -- who were born between 1965 and 1980 – believe that moms and dads should take on equal household responsibilities. In the same survey, 73% of Millenials – born between 1981 and 2000 – have the same belief. If you believe that the two of you need to equally share the chores, cooking or shopping, tell your spouse that you expect him to pick up half of the slack.

#2 Create a List

Don’t assume that your partner knows that he should do the grocery shopping because you cleaned the kitchen and did car-pool duty this week. Make it clear who is doing what, and when. Even though a “chore chart” may seem like something that you would make for your kids, having a visual reminder to check off can help the two of you to equally divide the work and make sure everything gets done. For example, on week one of the month you do the grocery shopping, vacuuming, and cooking while your spouse does daycare drop-off and pick-up, dusting, laundry and cleans the bathrooms.

#3 Involve the Entire Family in Household Responsibilities

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests having a weekly family meeting where you give your child her chores and discuss how she is doing with them. Use this as an opportunity to bond and spend some quality time together. Get creative and have a brainstorming session where you create a family chore list or have your younger child draw what she thinks “doing chores” looks like. Not only does adding your kids to the mix offer the opportunity to work together as a family, but it also splits the responsibilities and makes way for more leisure time.

#4 Don’t Take on all of the Child Care Tasks Yourself

8% of Generation X moms and 82% of Millennials believe that both parents should have an equal hand in child care, according to the Working Mothers Research Institute. After an exhausting day at work the prospect of having to pick-up my son from daycare, make his dinner, give him a bath, get him ready for bed, read him a story and be on-call for late night water requests was more than I could handle. Instead of wanting to spend time with him, I came to look at this routine as a mega-chore. Having a partner to share the caring makes them less of tasks and more of a treat. For example, if I’m on for bath time and not much else - I’m more likely to make my child’s bath splashy-splashy fun instead of rushing on to the next task.

#5 Take a break

The world won’t end if you don’t mop the floors on one day or you skip vacuuming once in a while. Although letting your house go to muck isn’t on the agenda, instead of fretting over chores try putting them on hold while you take the kids to the park or go out for a family dinner.

All in all, having a clear communication with your partner, creating a to-do list, sharing responsibilities equally are among the best ways to coordinate responsibilities and working life.