Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Ticket to Ride
by Michael Belfiore

It’s 7:00 a.m., Monday morning, and I’ve just finished my yoga practice. Right on cue, the baby calls out. Time to get her up. Time to get Mamma out of bed too. This week, as I did last week, I’m helping Wendy get to the office early while I prep the kids for the day. She’s leaving on a two-week trip to India on Friday, and there’s no time to lose in getting her ready to go, including finishing work obligations. Next month I’ll take off on a meditation retreat for a week and a half, and our roles will be reversed.

It’s all part of our project to live for our dreams in 2011, which is in turn a natural extension of  our commitment to share equally in the trials and joys of family life. Wendy and I started our lives together sharing everything, and after the kids came along, we saw no reason to change. Call it greed. I want to experience parenthood as fully as she does. And we both want fulfilling, rewarding careers. In short, we want it all.

We’re both writers, setting our own schedules. Some of our work is interchangeable, making it easy to switch off on each other’s jobs and provide each other’s childcare. We do have some babysitting help, lately some eight hours a week for our two-year-old. One of us meets our kindergartener at the bus after school, and we switch off work and childcare according to our deadlines on any given day. All of our checks get made out to both of us, so that the one who happens to be on child duty gets paid the same as the one in the office.

Our lives together are a work in progress as we continually seek balance and the optimal way of getting it all done. But we’ve learned a few principles that help us on this winding path.

Everything Is Temporary
Kids grow and gain skills, work obligations wax and wane, and our goals and dreams change over time. What has remained constant is our love for each other and our children. It helps a lot to keep this in mind when we hit the inevitable rough spots, whether it’s a hard day or a long dry spell in our work.

Counting to Ten Is for Grownups Too
Small challenges often seem huge until you step back from them. When I can remember to breathe through tense moments (“I’m huuuuuuunnnnnngrreeeeee!”) they often resolve themselves without a lot of needless anguish (see above).

Work Can Always Be Done More Efficiently
Working more quickly gives us more time to spend with each other and on our individual pursuits (see below). Simply working in our own office rather than someone else’s cuts our work time in half. Evolving work methods and technologies continue to pare down the time we spend at our desks.

Taking Time Out for Fun Is Crucial
It’s easier to stay motivated to work hard, whether at home or at the office, when we prioritize fun. Each weekend we try to build in time for family fun as well as time for us parents to have our own fun. Lately I’ve been learning to fly a flight simulator in preparation for actual flight lessons. And our big live-for-our-dreams project has us all energized.

You can follow along with our adventures at our blog, Party of 4.

©Copyright 2011 Marc and Amy Vachon

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