When Marriage Isn’t an Option, But Raising Children is the Only Choice
A 2013 Pew Research inquiry found that married parents are more “egalitarian” than cohabiting – or unmarried – couples. On average, the study found, “Married fathers’ time in paid and unpaid work totals about 55.5 hours per week, 1.4 hours more than that of married mothers. Yet the total work hours for cohabiting fathers are almost three hours less than that of cohabiting mothers.”
So how can men address this disparity in household responsibility? Check out these five potential solutions.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
If one partner in a marriage works and the other doesn’t, there is an unspoken assumption that the non-working parent should be able to handle all the household responsibilities. That assumption is not just wrong, it can be actively detrimental to the most important relationships in a person’s life. That’s why it’s key to be open and honest about everything, including the sharing of parenting duties. Simply keeping watch over the kids for a few hours so one’s partner can take a break can be hugely important. After all, inter-parental conflicts can be detrimental to a child’s long-term development.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s impossible to be a good partner if you’re mentally and physically exhausted all the time. Make sure you’re getting a decent amount of sleep every night. Maintain interests outside the family so that you don’t come to resent your loved ones for dominating your time. Take up yoga to keep your aggressive impulses under control. Get enough exercise to keep your energy levels high and immune system going strong. You can only help your family do well if you’re doing well.
Manage Your Time Effectively
While children obviously demand a lot of time and attention, it is possible to keep up with work and hobbies while being a parent. The key to achieving that balance lies with time management. A young child’s nap time can be used as time to knock out a few chores. Having lunches made and clothes laid out the night before a school day can make mornings go much more smoothly. Enrolling your child in an after school study program or pee wee league can create a few hours buffer between the end of the school day and the nightly preparations for bed. It’s not easy, but it is manageable.
Understand that You’re Not Alone
Being a parent, married or not, can be a very lonely thing. It’s important to remember that billions of other people are going through the same painful, life affirming process at as you are. Reach out to other parents in your neighborhood and set up some play dates. Check out some out some mommy or daddy blogs to get some parenting tips and commiserate. Understanding that the job of being a parent isn’t a climb up a mountain, but rather a journey across a long path with clearly delineated milestones is crucial.
Talk to Your Children
Talking at your children isn’t the same as talking to your children. Given that being a parent is a 24 hour a day job, it’s totally understandable that frustrations can mount and communication can devolve into commands and condemnations. It’s important to remember that we are not just our children’s guides through life, but also their first models for behavior. Being honest with our children about the ways that they can hurt, annoy and amuse us can be very helpful in cutting down on interpersonal tension.