By Juhi Bansal
Equal parenting simply means shared parenting or partnering, that jobs and chores are not traditionally defined as “breadwinners” and “breadmakers”. That women are not the sole or primary caregivers just because “they are mothers and it’s their job”. As partners, every responsibility is shared equally especially inside the house but also outside the house.
My husband and I would like to believe we are equal partners although we were both raised with a lot of gender stereotypes and every day learn more and more about how we can do better.
The lockdown turned out to be the litmus test: not just for us but for every couple around us. When there were no domestic workers to help and we had to work from home and at home and also parent our child. It was the real test of equal parenting and shared responsibilities and I am glad my husband and I passed with flying colours. We both had work calls through the day so we divided our responsibilities in the house: I would make breakfast, he would do the dishes, he would make lunch, I would do the dishes and we would take turns on alternate days to make dinner and do dishes. We cleaned the house and bathrooms in turns, made the beds, watered the plants, made sure our daughter was fed, clothed and literate every single day. The only reason I didn’t lose it during the lockdown unlike a lot of my friends was because my husband was an equal parent/ partner every single day.
So, anyway, that’s my story. Do you think you are equal parenting? Here’s a quick checklist for you:
- Do you have gender normative roles at home? Even if you have distributed work equally (or so you might think) if these responsibilities are gender-typical, it will result in heartache.
- If your partner went away for a week and you had to look after your child would you manage completely without calling your partner even once asking questions about your child or house? Of course, you should still call each other to say “I love yous”.
- Do you ever look at a chore in the house and say “that’s not my job!”
- Does your child approach you for only particular things? Can they come to you for absolutely anything and know that you will be able to do it?
- Do you constantly tell your partner that you could help but choose not to? That you would rather have staff who could do this because you want to relax? Guess what: both partners don’t have that choice especially when the staff is not available.How can you bring equal parenting into your house?
- No chore is off-limits. Distribute work equally between the partners but also switch up every now and then and exchange chores. Like cooking or playdates or taking them swimming.
- Ask for help, especially ladies. You can’t do it all. Tell your husbands they need to level up their games and take more responsibility.
- Make sure you share every aspect of parenting from diaper duties to night feedings to homework, PTAs, art and craft, playdates etc. Don’t expect to be applauded if you do these things once in a blue moon. Make sure you contribute every day.
- Know that equal parenting does not mean that both of you do exactly half the work every single day. Some days one will do more and some days the other. Now that I have started going back to work physically, my husband is definitely doing the majority of parenting and housework along with his own office work. So, I make up over the weekends.
- Don’t worry about “how it will look”. I used to drive my husband to work every day (when he had physical work), invest our money and he prefers to cook. We field many a raised eyebrow but it works for us.
- It all boils down to intent. You can always find a hundred reasons why you can’t do equal parenting/partnering but only one reason should suffice: because you respect your partner.
Are we perfect? Far from it! We are learning to deal with our own stereotypical upbringing every single day. But, we are moving in the right direction and that’s what matters. We are not just educating our children but also our parents. It’s a long journey ahead, but remember you are in it together.