We’ve all been disappointed at the end of the day, looking down at our 25% crossed off to-do list, wondering who the optimistic-list-writer thought she was only 9 short hours ago. How bold and caffeine infused she was at the time!
If you’re in a dual working parent household, no matter how hard you try to divide responsibilities equally, it never really ends up that way – and that’s when resentment can take hold.
I knew there must be answers out there to these issues that I and so many others face. I enlisted the help of Lori Mihalich-Levin of Mindful Return to chat about strategies and tactics to setting expectations appropriately, setting a manageable task list, and having open communication with your partner. We even discuss ways that you can both manage to get that coveted personal time that we so need as parents but rarely get.
You Can't Do It All Yourself - But You CAN Prioritize and Outsource
Be the curated of your to do list
Take ownership over what you can accomplish - you are the one that determines what needs to happen by when and if needs to be done at all.
Don’t be afraid to outsource
Lori says, “Learning to delegate, learning to outsource, learning to rely on my village for more things is something that I’ve been growing a muscle of overtime” and she notes the shifted thinking of where she really wants to spend her time has led her to being comfortable of letting go of things she doesn’t herself have to do.
Reframe the Norms of Household Work
1. Fair Play by Eve Rosky – Lori highly recommends it noting that Rosky’s description of “owning a task” comes down to actually owning all 3 stages conception, planning and execution.
2. Drop the Ball by Tiffany DuFu – maternal gatekeeping can lead to hoarding tasks and getting really overwhelmed. Holding a strong line on the negotiation of tasks is the way to break the cycle of revolving tasks that end back up on your plate.
Be aware of the language we use around tasks
Both parents are in fact, “parenting” not “helping” – this specific language helps drive ownership and accountability for both partners. Common language like "Mother's Helpers" should change to “Parent’s Helpers”. Debunk the norms young and seek out both boys and girls for these roles to normalize caretaking in both genders at a young age.
Create an Open Line of Communication
Lori and her husband hold a meeting every week to discuss the upcoming week, future plans and to make sure their schedules are aligned and tasks assigned. Although it may sound mundane, Lori and her husband have found this weekly ritual critical to being on the same page. This in turn helps their effectiveness and their relationship. In fact, they’re on year seven of this weekly meeting - must mean something is working right! They’ve come to dependent on it as a necessity to running their home, not just a nice-to-have. Her tips to getting this right:
Follow an agenda – who is on point for coverage if needed, bills that need to be paid, planned date nights and coordination of babysitters are each standard points Lori and her husband coverage each week.
If you find it hard to commit to this (as my husband and I do), Lori suggests creating a reward, perhaps pizza and beer while you’re talking and planning. Have something to look forward to as part of this weekly time and continue to show back up for it.
Make it attainable – set a goal of meeting for the next three months, which seems less daunting than forever in time. Determine the right cadence for you. Once you’re in the routine it becomes a habit.
How to effectively
share responsibilities, accomplish your to-do list and get that coveted personal time
A video interview recap
We even chat about Clubhouse as a new medium to connect and learn. Lori has found it to be really engaging and fun new forum for interesting conversations. Check out her session she hosts every Friday 12pm where they discuss all things juggling work and baby and maternity leave!
Lori Mihalich-Levin is the Founder and CEO of Mindful Return, a company dedicated to helping parents transition back to work after parental leave. Check out www.mindfulreturn.com to see the 5 courses they offer for new parents, parents of special needs and now even a UK chapter!
Rayz Kidz is an app for parents and caregivers that improves the quality and experience of care at home. The app features event logs, hands-on activities and photo sharing! Download the app to be confident in your child care so you can enjoy the magic that is raising your kids.
Managing the Home front:
Reset Your Expectations
While on parental leave
That list of 10 books you wanted to read and the household project you wanted to take on while on leave? Those probably aren’t going to happen. Taking care of a baby is a full-time job, don’t be disappointed when all you do is care for and love the baby and maybe sometimes shower. You did your job for the day.
After leave and continuously thereafter
There will be even less things you’ll be able to do once you go back to work so prepare yourself mentally for that. And baby #2, again, the available time to “get things done” goes down but it’s replaced with the best kind of time.
Find Your Alone Time (yes it's possible!)
Carve out dedicated time each week that is yours! Lori and her husband chose 3 hours every weekend to each have as their personal time. Workout, read a book, talk to or see your friends, but it has to be for you. Your partner does the same on a different day. You get your alone time one day and one-on-one time with the kids the other! My husband and I also started this during the pandemic and found it so refreshing, highly recommend!