In her book and CD Chaos 2 Calm: The Moms-of-Multiples Guide to an Organized Family, Tonia Tomlin provides tips, strategies and key issues to discuss. These tips can be used by any couple, with any number of kids, to organize and share household duties. Here is Tomlin’s approach.
Sorting It Out
Parenting multiples is a challenge unlike any other. Parents must function as one unit in unison with one another in every way. Both parents need to closely evaluate their schedules. How the responsibilities unfold will be different for everyone, but the conversation must take place prior to the babies’ arrival.
This will not only allow for you to have an open and honest conversation about the division of household and parenting responsibilities, but it will also be a tremendous assistance in understanding what additional help you may need from friends, family and/or hired help.
Make a Plan
A Partnership Plan can be a useful tool in sorting out responsibilities. Its purpose is to form a commitment between you and your spouse to fairly and lovingly assign specific household chores to one another.
As you create your partnership plan, keep in mind the division of labor can and should be revisited as your lives evolve and change. To begin, make a chart with columns headed as follows:
Duty Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
In the “Duty” column, list responsibilities. These can include:
Daily Child Care: Early Morning Feedings, Late Night Feedings, Morning Bottle Prep, Late Night Bottle Prep
Daily Kitchen Cleanup: Morning, Noon, Evening
Laundry: Children’s, Adults’ Beds: Children’s, Adults’
Meal Preparation: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner
Weekly Household Cleanup: Vacuuming and dusting, Lawn Care, Grocery Shopping
For each day, or as needed for the weekly chores, write in Mom, Dad, or an outside helper’s name such as Grandma, nanny, etc.
The Key Questions
In making your Partnership Plan, discuss and jot down answers to these key questions:
• Should we hire a nanny, housekeeper or gardener? If so, how many days per month should they work? What will their responsibilities entail?
• Do we have friends or family that will be willing to help out regularly?
• In our jobs, are there adjustments either of us needs to make in the number of hours worked or the amount of travel?
• Will one parent stay home with the children long-term? How will this impact the division of responsibilities?
• If we will be utilizing daycare, who will drop off and pick up?
• Who will do nighttime feedings? Early morning feedings?
• Who will prepare bottles? Should we do it in the morning or the evening?
• We will have much more laundry. How will we divide this chore?
Letting these questions “sort themselves out” can lead to an inequitable division of labor that will take a toll on the relationship. A fair division of chores makes for a healthy parenting relationship while providing the children with the opportunity to know both parents as caregivers.
Adapted by permission from Chaos 2 Calm: The Moms-of-Multiples Guide to an Organized Family (Sorted Out Publishing, $17.95).
A Partnership Plan Can Help
Organize Household Chores
by Tonia Tomlin