Marriage After Baby: Division of Labor
A little bit ago, I polled you on stories asking what you wanted to see from us in terms of marriage posts. One of the topics that was mentioned the most was how we divide, conquer and balance household responsibilities, childcare, work and social life.
I recognize that everyone has their own way of doing things…ours isn’t perfect, but I think what has helped is that we really honor each others’ strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses. I know what I thrive at and what I don’t. Perry knows what he is a capable of and what he prefers not to do and somehow we overlap each other to make it work. When we moved in together when we were engaged, it took us a longggg time to figure this stuff out. But after eight years of living together, I think we are on the right track!
Division of Labor in Our Marriage
I am laughing when I type this because I literally want to blow our house up and start again. We are both feeling like our home owns us. We like to think we are pretty minimal when it comes to our belongings but I swear we spend so much time picking up and reorganizing. It drives me crazy. I am this close to hiring someone to help me come organize and Marie Kondo the shit out of our house. Also, THIS tiny home is my jam. Anyone have extra land we can plop this beauty on?
If you follow along with us on Instagram and Instagram stories, we did a poll to see what was worse- LAUNDRY or DISHES. I was Team Laundry and Perry was team Dishes. Whichever category got the least amount of votes would have to do the ice bucket challenge. The final results were 67 of you hated Laundry and 83 hated Dishes. That meant that Terra (who thinks Laundry is the worst) lost the bet and had to pour a bucket of ice water over her head in stories. It was really quite something…
Here’s how we divvy up housework:
Perry: Trash, Recycling, Yard Work, Vacuuming, Sweeping/Mopping, Dishes, Grocery Shopping, Feeding Rio
Terra: Laundry; Kid’s stuff like: Managing Winter’s room/Lennon’s space in our room, toy maintenance, clothes; and detail work like filing, dusting, wiping down spaces, organizing, general nightly clean-up and beyond.
We switch off doing the bathrooms because we both equally hate it :)
Perry and I have a unique situation where we both work from home. Winter goes to preschool from 8:30-3:00 four days a week which means Perry and I are taking turns with Lennon while the other person works on those days. We don’t have this down to a specific schedule but we try to talk about what need to get done and give each other a few hours each to get some work done. This can get messy because we both have a lot on our plates, but right now, we take turns working throughout the date and then work again at night after the kids are in bed. Doesn’t leave much room for Mom and Dad connection time but it’s what we have to do get it done.
It’s my goal this year to work smarter and not harder so I recently hired an assistant to help me sep up systems. She has been so great so far and while we are still trying to figure out her role, it’s allowing me more time to work on creating content and building The Mindful Mamas Club and less time on some of the backend stuff.
Emotional Support for Kids and Engaging them Activities
Perry is really good at playing with the kids. He is so creative with coming up with activities and teaching them about gardening and the great outdoors. I am the one the they go to for emotional support. Because my background is in child, family and school psychology, Perry leans on me for guidance on how to discipline, talk to Winter so she can really hear us, and parenting.
While he is a really intuitive father, he tends to get overwhelmed when Winter is overly emotional. Winter has these breath holding spells (you can read more about them here), and they are epic and really horrible. She tends to want me to help her get through them and while I am so happy to be that safe person for her, it affects me so much. I often have to take five minutes after they occur to cry and release how scary they are for me. So while I am good at handling them in the moment, Perry is awesome at the aftermath of it and helping Winter and I to process it and move on.
Both Perry and I practice compassionate and mindful parenting where we encourage our kids to lean into their emotions and not avoid or bury them. We believe that all emotions are good emotions and we talk to Winter like she an adult. We are constantly trying to better ourselves for her and Lennon and while we have many road bumps, I feel so blessed that Perry and I are equally invested in the pareting aspect of our kids. Perry grew up with a stay-at-home Dad so I think his upbringing has a lot to do with his ideals on parenting.
Night Time Routines
Winter prefers that I put her to bed, but when I was pregnant and felt really sick or when Lennon was super little, Perry did a lot of the bedtime routine. It was really sweet to watch Perry and Winter bond but now that our life is a little more adjusted she prefers that I do it. When Perry does bedtime routine, Winter thinks it’s a free for all and they end up revving each other up by laughing so hard where I am more structured and mean business. With Perry, somehow they end up wrestling, doing gymnastics or being really physical. With me, Winter and I work on our mindfulness, often do mantras, breath work or stretching, read books and cuddle.
I want to preface this again, Perry and I have a unique sitatution because we both work from home and because of my history with mental health, he has had to take on more night time responsiblities to make sure I get some sleep so I don’t fall into a tricky space mental health wise. With Winter, we both got up. I would breastfeed and Perry would change her diaper. But we quickly realized that we were both sleep deprived and no one was functioning so the large majaority fell on me. Well, it didn’t go well. When you have depression (or even when you don’t) it is sooo hard to function on a few hours of sleep. So we adjusted what didn’t work with Winter and had a plan that we worked on with our marriage therapist and our midwifes on how we would approach nighttime duty with Lennon.
For a long time, I would pump and go to bed at eight or nine. Perry would stay up with Lennon until midnight to give me a head start and feed him with bottle. Then it was my shift from midnight to six AM. Perry would then get up with Lennon and let me sleep until eight. As Lennon got bigger and we transitioned him to the crib from our bed (I will be writing a whole blog post on this process), now he sleeps longer boughts of time so I am able to get up two to three times a night to feed him. I am not able to pump much so it makes it hard to give him a bottle. Also, little Lennon refuses to drink forumla. I am hoping little man starts sleeping even better because I am still pretty tired even though he is going 3.5-5.5 hours straight. So right now, I will take a nap about twice a week to try to catch up.
When Perry and I got married, I was so stubborn about this topic. I wanted to be an independent woman but seriously had the WORST finance management. Perry is a numbers guy and is really good at making spreadsheets, balancing the checkbook and keeping our long term goals in mind. I remember this one epic fight about not wanting to give him my account information because I wanted control. I think wanting control stemmed from my need to prove that I could still take care of myself. But after a lot of talks and coming to the realization that he Perry really was good at finances, I let him take the wheel. We of course, make big decisions about investments and large purchases together, but he runs the day to day financing.
I am sure our balance of it all will continue to evolve, but that’s where we are right now. How do you divide and conquer in your relationship?
Photography by Kyla Fear