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

Equal Sharing of Recreation:
Benefits and Challenges

How many parents complain that they can’t find time for themselves?  We suspect the answer is ‘almost all.’  In their recreation domain, many American parents are out-of-balance to the negative.  Even if they are able to squeeze in enough fun time with their kids, they usually aren’t getting enough time for fun on their own or with other adults.

We have struggled to carve out recreation time like everyone else, but are helped tremendously by our philosophy of equal sharing.  When our daughter was born, we made a commitment to create time for each of us to pursue at least one hobby in a meaningful way at all times.  While this goal hasn’t worked perfectly, we’ve been happily surprised by how easy it is to achieve most of the time.  We actually do have enough time for ourselves overall.

Only a superhuman can sustain a life of giving without receiving.  The fact that equally shared parenting can facilitate balance between the two extremes means that it makes life more enjoyable.  

The beauty of getting time for yourself in an equally shared parenting model is that you are not doing so at the expense of your children.  This is because you are almost always leaving them in the capable hands of your spouse while you are out doing your thing.  And we believe that parents making time for fun away from their children is actually the best thing for the kids.  We want to teach them that being an adult and a parent is a good thing, even with its tremendous challenges.

It benefits everyone if both partners are leading happy and fulfilled lives.  A wife who is free to manage her own fun, and then does so, is a lot more enjoyable to be around than one who feels trapped as a servant to everyone else’s needs.  The same goes for men, of course. 

Guilt has a way of messing up the whole point of recreation.  Even if your partner shows no signs of trying to make you feel guilty, you can often do this job all by yourself.  You start to second-guess the importance of your time alone, or you figure it is just easier to stay at home.  Sometimes, we just have to force ourselves out of the house when it is our turn to go.  Maybe the best gift we can give to our families in return for our recreation time is to actually enjoy it and come home renewed.

Another challenge is knowing that whenever parents equally share and partake of recreation time, they also get more single-parent duty to cover for each other. 

Everyday fun
Equally shared parenting gives parents a way out of the common complaint about not having time for themselves.  Although it isn’t always easy to create the right balance in your recreation domain, equally shared parenting makes it possible more often than not.  

Recreation, as we discuss it here, should be broadly defined.  What renews each person is highly individual.  For some, washing the car is a chore.  For others, it is a meditative and peaceful activity.  Recreation doesn’t have to cost a lot.  In fact, it can be completely free.  Exercise is a great use of recreation time, for example, and can take the form of a run along the river, a hike on a beautiful day, or a yoga session in your living room.  

One key facet of equally shared parenting is that both parents are competent to handle activities in all four domains.  This makes life more fun because it lifts the burden of responsibility for any one domain from an individual parent.  Not only are you able to get enough time to yourself, but you are sharing the housework, breadwinning and childraising.  So, in essence, you have all the fun and half the work.  Life in balance is a good thing.

©Copyright 2008 Marc and Amy Vachon

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