Like so many of us, I wear a lot of hats in my day-to-day routine. I am a mother to two young, very curious boys. I am the co-founder of a thriving law firm. And I want to impact the world in a positive way.
But work-life balance isn’t about having spare hours in my day to bear the burden of carrying the mental load at home. Like so many mothers, I balance my work obligations with my commitment to my family.
I expect my husband to do the same, because he’s my partner in this project called ‘parenting’ and he wants to change the world too.
Equal partnerships play an enormous role in changing the world
Men today are doing more chores than they have in the past. However, doing more chores when asked isn’t the same as knowing the chores need to be done. This is the ‘mental load’—and it’s a burden that is still largely carried by women regardless of their education, wealth, or which parent stays at home with the children. Tackling this issue in our home is one way my husband and I plan to change the world.
Many of us grew up with mothers who managed everything at home—regardless of whether they also pursued a career. We grew up with an innate belief that it’s just what mothers do. But my husband and I both work full-time hours on flexible schedules. I don’t believe I should be solely responsible for knowing how to care for our children.
I want them to see my husband and I as devoted, loving, working parents who tackle the challenges and reap the rewards of parenting equally. I want them to rely on both of us to give them what they need. To achieve this, both of us must know what goes into running the household—and we need to tackle that workload as a team.
Achieving an equal partnership
An equal partnership doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, a strong commitment from both parties, constant communication, and strategies that work for everyone.
In our case, we use a shared calendar. This reduces the burden of the mental load because, whenever I think about something, I can add it to the calendar. It then becomes ‘our’ task – not mine. We both know what needs to be done and, together, we work out how to best manage it.
The shared calendar provides the framework for us to communicate and compromise. We use it to develop our weekly routines – and to help out whenever something comes up last minute. Here’s what that looks like:
One of us will drop the kids off at school and the other will pick them up that day. One of us will take them to guitar lessons on Thursday evenings, while the other will take them skiing on Tuesdays. Importantly, both of us know about these activities. If I have something important come up at work, my husband can step in at any moment – without me needing to prepare an exhaustive list.
Which brings me to another significant challenge in developing an equal partnership: you must avoid the temptation to assume you know best.
I’m very particular. As an attorney, this is an excellent trait. As a mother watching my husband change our son’s diaper (the ‘wrong’ way), it’s significantly less helpful. Building an equal partnership has required me to constantly challenge my own beliefs about how things should be done. I need to give my husband space to do things his way. Initially, I constantly had to stop myself from ‘just doing it’. He makes the kids’ lunches differently, packs their bags in a different order, and he might even drive them to school via a different route. Whenever I’m tempted to step in to ‘do it my way’, I remind myself that having our children see my husband doing this task is what really matters – not how it’s actually done.
Reaping the rewards of an equal partnership
There are many practical benefits of my equal partnership. It’s how I juggle running a company with making sure my sons have fulfilling lives and ensuring we always have enough healthy food prepared and served. But the emotional benefits are significant, too.
It makes our relationship stronger. I feel loved, supported, and respected by my husband, all of which are critical to a healthy relationship. The converse is true too. My husband feels loved, supported, respected, and empowered – which is essential since many men are often happy to contribute, they just don’t really know how or aren’t’ given the space to participate.
My equal partnership also helps me manage my mom-guilt. I don’t need to be concerned that my boys might be missing out when I’m not there. Because they aren’t missing out on time with me, they’re spending time with their father.
Finally, it’s an essential step in my plan to change the world. Women are equally capable of advancing their careers. We belong on the top rungs in the business world. In fact, there are incredible business benefits of having women and other diverse workers in decision making positions. But it’s difficult for women to advance their careers while also doing the majority of the invisible work at home.
A future built around equal partnerships at home is a brighter future. A world where children see their parents as a team is a kinder, more equal world. And households where women can confidently leave their children with their husband are happier households. For all those reasons, and so many more, my equal partnership with my husband is non-negotiable – for both of us.