A global pandemic is shining a light on many things in our daily lives—the good, the bad, the ugly. Right now, many women are feeling the weight of centuries of built-up inequality surrounding parental and household responsibilities more than ever.

70% of women with children under the age of 18 are working in the US. 75% of which are full-time jobs. Women make up about half of the U.S workforce. These stats highlight that women in this country are balancing work and motherhood more than ever before.

A lot has been said about the impact stay-at-home orders and school closures have had on parents across the globe (spoiler: it’s not going well). But if we peel back the layers a bit, more often than not it’s the mom who’s carrying the brunt of the added pressure to homeschool kids at home during this time.


There’s a lot to unpack about why that is: from cultural and self-imposed “mom guilt,” to societal norms defaulting to women for things like cleaning, cooking, and household management. Even women who hold the traditional “breadwinner” role are still finding themselves fulfilling the majority of the “housewife” roles. This was happening pre-pandemic—shelter-in-place has only magnified the issue. A recent New York Times article highlighted that nearly half of men say they do most of the homeschooling, 3% of women agree.

If you’re a working mom who’s finding herself defaulting into more responsibilities than your partner, here are a few things to consider when approaching shared parenting.

Speak up.

Plenty of partners think they’re taking on their fair share because they never stop to think about how much lesson planning goes into schoolwork or prep goes into meal planning. Family roles are often modeled after our own parents. Think about your partner’s father or your father and how involved they were in the day-to-day of school and home life. Many of us don’t have a truly equal parenting partnership blueprint to work from.

If you want the dynamics to change, sit down and have the conversation. Tell your partner how long it takes you to plan a week’s worth of meals or how you are communicating with teachers to understand home school projects. Go through your inbox and show them all the school updates, zoom schedules, and virtual playdates you’re managing. Walk them through a typical morning from your perspective and the trials and tribulations of making sure the kids are staying engaged while at home. Then tell them you need more help managing all of it, and you want to figure out how you can more evenly divide these responsibilities.

Work with your partner to set your family up for success.

Here comes the hard part: that first conversation might be an eye-opener, but how do you change patterned behavior? You might encounter some resistance. A partner might insist that they do everything you ask them to, and that may be true, but the new goal is to eliminate asking while they tackle tasks more holistically instead of on a chore-by-chore basis.

First, figure out how to parse out responsibilities. Go through the steps and set expectations. Once your partner understands the totality of the job, let them decide how best to manage it (Thursday doesn’t have to be laundry day, after all). Also, remember that you cannot be a gatekeeper to critical information. For example, make sure both of you have access to usernames and passwords, as well as the inbox where all the kid-related emails are sent. Letting go of the mental burden also means giving up some control.

Use tools to keep everyone on the same page.

Technology has made household management easier for many families. From shared calendars and to-do list apps to websites that organize recipes—these tools can make passing off duties simpler and set both partners up for success. Be patient with new tech. Getting used to a new process can take time initially, but once you’re up and running it can free up time for both parents.

Outsource when you can.

Today’s families are busier than ever before, so if you and your partner decide you’re both maxed out, determine whether you want to outsource it. Whether it’s hiring a virtual tutor session for an hour or having an honest conversation about potentially bringing someone into the home to give you both much-needed support while you work. Remember just because you outsource something, doesn’t mean there isn’t still some management involved—and that shouldn’t automatically fall on mom’s plate.

Schedule regular check-ins.

As much as one partner might want to shift the mental burden to be spread more equally, it can also be difficult to let go for the fear that balls will be dropped—so check in regularly. Once a week (Sunday nights work well) sit down with your shared calendars, emails, and apps, and make sure everyone is on the same page for the week. Did your first-grader get work on reading this week? What’s for dinner this week? Who’s making lunches? What times are the kid’s Zoom meetings?

Make a plan together, then allow your partner the space to execute. If dad is in charge, you need to trust him to do the work or deal with the consequences. There will be hiccups—a missed school meeting, forgotten worksheets, “snack dinners”—so be prepared to communicate about what can be done differently, consider rethinking responsibilities, and then try again. Be kind to each other. Eventually, your family will find a way to more evenly share the parenting load.

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