Raising a child together is an incredible experience but it can also be challenging. It takes mindful effort to parent effectively as a team. We talked to Erin, Mama of an 8 year old and a 10 year old, to learn how she and her partner work together as parents.
How do you work together as parents to raise your child(ren) and manage all the logistics?
We work together as parents by figuring out how to utilize our strengths and fill in for each other when we encounter weak points in our parenting. We share domestic and parental duties mostly, but have certain “hot button” issues that we used to struggle against, but now strive to support each other in dealing with them proactively and healthfully (thanks to couples and individual therapy and studying conflict resolution).
In therapy, we’ve gotten better at supporting each other in dealing with our frustrations with the kids in productive ways. For example, I am more permissive of them eating in the living room, but he gets frustrated when they make a mess with their snack. I realized that I needed to stick to the rule (no eating in rooms other than the kitchen) to reduce that trigger for him. He has gotten better at checking in with me when I need a break. He takes over for me at bedtime when I need some time to myself.
What do you do to nourish your own relationship?
We nourish our relationship by having date nights, heartfelt conversations after the kids go to bed, and planning and cooking meals together. We aim to prioritize our relationship by checking in with one another in our individual and collective goals. Some individual goals that mean a lot to me are bettering myself as an individual, mom, teacher, and woman. I prioritize time for writing, hiking, hanging with friends, and enriching myself as I feel like it makes me a better mom and wife and all-around person. My goal to be self-actualized, reflective, and thoughtful makes me a better person because I am more at peace with myself and others. I think setting an example of a gentle, yet powerful woman is an important one for my son and my daughter.
What does an ideal day look like when you and your partner are sharing the tasks?
An ideal day for me and my partner is one in which we work side-by-side in household chores like cooking and cleaning and caring for the kids. It feels like we appreciate and take time for each other, and say thank you. I’ve learned that it’s important to let him know how much I love and appreciate his contributions to me and the kids—however mundane and seemingly trivial. It’s the little expressions of appreciation and gratitude that help to sustain our bond, I’ve found over the years. I think my kids are learning that relationships take work and commitment. Love is an act, not a noun. It’s an everyday striving to understand, connect with, empathize, and learn from one’s partner. I hope that they realize how hard we’ve worked to communicate better, and respect and honor each other more fully.
Looking back, what advice would you have liked to have received before becoming a parent?
- Hearing from others how much of a struggle parenthood is.
- How important it is for a mom to find her tribe.
- The importance of working on being your best self so you can translate that into being a strong and compassionate partner and mother.
- To value self-care—working out, time alone, time with girlfriends.
- To view things moment-by-moment and realize that life is fleeting and transitory.
- To nurture gratitude for all parts of the journey.
- To empathize and support others, especially mom-friends.