If you look at an average two parent household you would most likely see two working parents. There are many reasons for this; some reasons are more personally driven whilst others are practically driven. On top of that there are other responsibilities that need to be considered at home. When I started working I often wondered how my mom had a full time job and raised three children. It is a lot of work and a lot of pressure.
This article focuses on a household with both parents present and both parents work full time. Working or having a career is a good thing for a person. It fulfils ambitions, goals and needs of achievement. The self-concept of a person increases in a positive manner when they are gainfully employed at a job they enjoy. Self-esteem, self-confidence, general well-being and ideas of purpose and belonging are all elements that being employed can fulfil. A household may also need a double income to ensure the maintenance of a good shelter, adequate nutrition, sanitation, healthcare, etc. Therefore, there may not be a choice and both parents may have to work. Whatever the reason for both parents working, there is still all the home and child responsibility left.
How is this responsibility dealt with? Or more importantly, how can we deal with it in the best way? What is commonly observed is that traditional gender roles come into play and the woman will take on the majority of the household chores. Chores such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children have all been traditionally seen as ‘woman’s work’. When keeping a house was a woman’s only job, this was acceptable however, living situations have changed. If the living situations change, so must the perception of household chores. If this perception changes women may feel less stressed at home and men may feel more involved at home. This is beneficial emotionally for all involved.
An easy way to ensure that all household responsibilities are met with equal input from both partners is to make a list; work together to make a list of all the chores, tasks and responsibilities that need to be taken care of daily, weekly and monthly. Once you have a list explore ways to split it up. Remember to ignore societal norms or traditional views of gendered work. Rather look at your strengths, weaknesses, abilities and interests. Make the division of work uniquely appropriate for your relationship and household. You can do this by remembering the idea of balance. Everyone needs balance. Look at sharing responsibilities equally for example take turns cooking or helping the children with homework.
Work responsibility and family responsibility must have a balance as well otherwise one or both parents won’t really ever be completely present when home. The last bit of balance that must be considered is quality alone time for the parents. This is vital to ensure that your relationship is still nurtured and taken care; this is not an indulgence, it is a necessity!
Finding balance in all these areas is a juggling act – yet we can all do it. You may not get it right the first time, but working together as a team will ensure that your household has the best juggling act out there.
By Amy Pieterse