How to share the parenting responsibilities after baby is born

If two people decide to have a baby together, then both parents need to share the responsibilities associated with raising the baby.

Yes, only one parent can give birth, and often only one parent stays home as the primary caregiver. But that doesn’t mean that parenting isn’t an equal partnership.

The physical and mental load of raising a baby is beyond heavy. It’s wonderful, but it’s endless, all-consuming, exhausting, and isolating.

Expecting one parent to take on the majority of caring for a baby’s needs is unfair. And on that note, parenting isn’t housekeeping. Every adult who lives in that house should be doing their equal share.

So, if this is your first baby and you’re both trying to navigate your new roles, or one of you in the partnership is feeling resentful, frustrated, or disappointed by the other partner’s lack of initiative or support, this article is for you.

How to share parenting responsibilities after baby is born

We bring a baby into the world, and no one really tells us how it’s all going to work on a practical basis, particularly from a place of equality.

Times have changed since our own parents raised us. Typically (of course, not every family), the father went to work, while the mother stayed at home and did practically all the child-raising and housework.

We’ve come a long way from that…or have we? Many new parents don’t know another way because that’s what was modelled to us.

There are definitely ways to make some changes to this outdated and unequal scenario. Here are some ideas to help you to become equal co-parents.

1. Acknowledge that parenting is 24/7

The parent who goes out to their paid job doesn’t end their responsibilities when they clock-off. There are 24 hours in a day, meaning that nighttime parenting is just as important as daytime parenting, and should be shared equally.

2. Make a list of your strengths and priorities

Sit down together and discuss what your priorities are as a family and as an individual. The tasks valued most by one person could be assigned to them. Or divide them up based on the jobs you don’t like, and your partner doesn’t mind. For instance, if your partner doesn’t mind vacuuming but you don’t like it. Or one parent (if breastfeeding) does the night feeds while the other parent does the night nappies.

3. Accept that you’ll both do things differently

For the primary caregiver, it can be really hard to relinquish control. You want your partner to do their share, but to do it your way. It’s challenging but it’s important to stop being the ‘gatekeeper’ or ‘CEO’, or they’ll be more and more reluctant to share the responsibilities. They might fold the laundry ‘wrong’ (or not fold it before putting it away), but gradually let that go; it’s how they do things. You’re different people with different values and processes.

4. Shift to a ‘shared’ mindset rather than one parent ‘helping’ the other

In an equal partnership, no one is ‘helping’ the other when it comes to raising a baby. No one is ‘babysitting’, no one should be ‘on call’ to help only when asked, no one should be ‘grateful’ to the other for simply parenting, no one is amazing because they’re ‘hands on’, and no one should be the parent who makes all the decisions about the baby. It’s time to shift that narrative entirely.

5. Sync your to-do lists and calendars

One parent shouldn’t be expected to carry the entirety of the mental load, so anything at all that needs doing, add it to a shared list, or any upcoming appointments or events can go into a shared calendar. Add items as small as ‘research nappy creams’ or ‘is my baby’s poo normal?’. The parent who isn’t home usually has access to the internet as well, plus a lunch break and possibly a commute (unlike the parent at home).

6. Respect and equally divide each other’s ‘me time’

Activities outside of parenting and the home must be communicated so as not to clash with the other partner’s free time. If one parent wants to go for a run, a massage, or a coffee catch-up with a friend, add it into the shared calendar, and respect it as long as it’s equal and happens at an agreed time and duration (like not right on bedtime three nights in a row!). The great thing about tackling all the tasks as a team is the extra pockets of ‘me time’.

7. Get a shared email address and provide both phone numbers

The mother is usually the go-to point of contact for anything baby or household related. A way to change that right from the start is to set up an email address that you both get notifications for on your phones for medical appointments, Centrelink letters, utility bills, emails from childcare, or texts from anyone who looks after your baby, and so on. It will drastically reduce the mental load whilst showing others that parenting is 50-50.

8. Communicate regularly and accept that you’re both learning

Parents are made, not born. No one becomes a parent knowing how to pack a nappy bag, burp a baby, settle them to sleep, or understand what each cry means. And no adult has a burning desire to clean the fridge, wash endless piles of laundry, take a cranky baby to the supermarket, or wipe little bottoms all day long. It’s simply what both parents signed up for when they decided to have a baby. It has to be teamwork…or it honestly won’t work.


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