Thank you to TULA Contributor Maple for this insightful blog post on ways parents can work together.
For the last 50+ years humans have advanced and changed every industry through technology — improving our productivity, communication, and automating execution — but we have overlooked one of the most important jobs we will ever have in our lives: parenting.
Parenting, like so many other parts of life, usually follows the 80/20 rule: One person does the majority of the work, and everyone else benefits from the outcome. Typically, one partner takes on a disproportionate amount of household labor, even if they are also working outside the home. In the U.S., women spend about four hours a day on unpaid work, compared with about 2.5 hours for men according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
While the lack of technology isn’t the core problem, its absence in the home has allowed inequality in our homes to persist and the inheritance of a multi-generational “home operating system” that has not been favorable for half the parents in the world we live in. The solutions over the past decades simply have not addressed relationship inequalities at home, and so the needle has not moved to make life easier. As of today, no one has bent the curve. If anything, parenting and work demands have gotten increasingly harder.
So while it is no longer the year 1950, it is fair to say that marriages, raising children and running a household often look like a time capsule. It’s time to change that.
Establish and share the mental load. Running the household needs to be a family affair, and not on one person to mentally manage all the moving pieces. Sit down together and do a dump of everything your household needs to run. From annual Dr. appointments to shoe shopping, grocery runs and paying bills. Then organize it all in one spot so it lives somewhere everyone has access. Chat through who is responsible for what— this makes household needs easier to understand, maintain and keep organized. Obviously we use Maple’s app for all of this 😉 but there are other options, too — like a shared family calendar and/or task manager.
Regularly communicate about your household. Schedule weekly check-ins (maybe it’s over dinner one night a week), where you can touch base on what’s going on. Discuss what needs to happen, create tasks together, plan and manage your family needs and who is responsible for what. This ongoing project management will completely change how you function as a family. It will free up time, help you avoid issues, and is a level of self-care we all deserve.
Express your gratitude. We know you work hard for your family, but knowing it and saying it are two different things. Expressing gratitude and saying thanks to your partner will go a long way for both of you.
Ask for help outside of your nuclear family. Don’t try to do it alone. Whether we ask a close friend to drop off dinner one night, ask a neighbor to walk the dog, or work grocery deliveries into the family budget, start getting creative in how you ask and get help. More often than not, people want to help parents however they can— because families are the backbone of our society.
The path we are walking at Maple represents more than an opportunistic chance to shape an industry— we have a chance to change a system that is failing so many. We’re creating tools for parents to work together, manage their household, and get help. We believe that technology can help shape the future of parenting. A future that will improve the quality of life for all families, everywhere.