Mum-of-six Krechelle Carter knows a thing or two about managing the working parent juggle. Here are her tips for sharing the load with your partner when you both have busy careers.
Fifty-fifty. That’s what we say. My husband, Dave, and I agree that for our household to run efficiently, it’s important we share the load fifty-fifty and work together as a team.
We’re not a traditional family. We have six munchkins: five in school and one left in the nest. I work more than the standard 38 full-time hours a week as a blogger and freelance writer, and my husband, Dave, works six days a week as a labourer. Times are busy—there’s no denying. But we get through our weeks successfully and happily, both working full-time and balancing the household chores, and here’s how we do it.
Tip #1 – Write a common list
It might seem simple, but the first thing Dave and I do to prepare for the week ahead is to draw up a list. You can do this planner-style or electronically, so long as you set out each day broken down to morning, afternoon and night. We list what each of us is scheduled to do outside the home, be it work, appointments, kids’ sports, etc., and also a list of home tasks. Mine include making dinner, tidying the kitchen, paying bills, and Dave’s responsible for folding washing, walking the dog, making lunches—a fifty-fifty split. Writing one list that we both refer to ensures that we’re on the same page and we make the most of our day.
Tip #2 – Use a linked planner
Communication is key. Dave and I have our phone schedules linked so we know what we need to do and what each other’s day involves. It’s so much easier seeing the whole family’s appointments, including who’s scheduled to pick up whom, plus all our chores laid out together in one place. And if one of us is running late or needs help to complete the task, the other has all the information he needs at his fingertips to step in or get started on what’s up next; in our family, there is no such thing as over-planning.
Tip #3 – Sunday night planning
We take some time on a Sunday to plan out our week ahead. We generally work to the same weekly schedule, but of course there is the odd spanner in the works (hello vet appointment!). But planning each day ensures we maximise its potential and can cope more easily with the occasional hiccup. I can assure you, when we head into the week with a plan, we achieve a whole lot more!
Tip #4 – Keep things simple
I don’t know about you, but I am often guilty of over-complicating things. Keeping our house clean is important, for example, but so is developing efficient strategies to take this on. It could mean lowering your standards a little or asking for more help. Think about how you can simplify your life. Do you really need to mop every day? Don’t burden yourself unnecessarily—this is especially the case when all the parents in the house are working full-time—simple upkeep is best.
Tip #5 – Appreciation
It might seem like you’re both in the thick of it together, fighting your way out of overcrowded days. I appreciate my husband taking responsibility for fifty percent of the household chores, however I am guilty of sometimes expecting it instead of respecting it. A little thank you goes a long way.
Tip #6 – Establish good morning and night time routines
Our morning and night time routines ensure that all chores are done, we are prepared for the next day and we make the most of our time. Everyday chores such as meal prep, washing and tidying the house are all written into our daily routine and completed morning and night. We don’t let them build up or get away from us. We have our routines set in place and have found the best ways to make them work for us.
Keeping things simple, rocking routines, and being consistent are the essentials that ensure we smash our week with a clean house, bills paid and everybody arriving at their appointments, school and work on time (well, most of the time).
Remember though, at the end of the day, routines are flexible. Moving a task or activity to the next day to deal with the unexpected, lighten the load or to simply get some rest is perfectly fine (and not worth the guilt!). We all need to sometimes. If you’re organised and communicating clearly, you’ll be able to take any changes to the plan in your stride.
Written by Krechelle Carter. Mum of six children, six and under; freelance writer for publications such as Kidspot and Woman’s Day; blogger; and creator of the Eight at Home community. Strong believer in following your dreams and balancing it all…most of the time! Find her at eightathome.com.au, on Instagram and Facebook.