Figuring out the division of labor at home is never easy. From those very first days when we nervously bring our fresh little human home, there are seemingly infinite decisions to make about who does what, when, and how often. We partnered with our friends at Bumkins to interview three full-time working #MINDRMAMAs about how duties are shared in their household. Second to share her story is Pearl Pari, who works in the finance industry.
Talk us through your typical weekday, at home and at work.
My husband Alden and I live in Ridgewood, NJ with our three-year-old daughter, Naomi. I am an attorney working in financial crimes at a financial firm and my husband is a network architect working at a pharmaceutical company. Our weekdays can look considerably different from week to week, especially because my husband is a low-key workaholic who consults during his free time and I spend a good deal of my free time working on pro bono immigration cases. However, as far as Naomi is concerned, our mornings and evenings almost always follow a similar flow.
Like a relay race, as soon as my husband enters the kitchen, I hand over the baton and I run out the door to catch my bus to the city.
Our typical day begins in shifts. I am the first one up around 5:45 am, followed by Naomi and then Alden. Naomi and I get ready together (which is no small feat). Mornings are trying ever since Naomi developed a serious opinion on her wardrobe, which often does not take into account the weather. We have several wardrobe and hairstyle changes (A.K.A. meltdowns) before Alden even wakes up. Then we somehow make it to breakfast.
Breakfast time, when we aren’t running late, is one of my favorite times of the day. Naomi and I get a chance to chat, dance and play a little before Alden joins us. Like a relay race, as soon as my husband enters the kitchen, I hand over the baton and I run out the door to catch my bus to the city. Alden and Naomi enjoy some playtime; he packs her lunch and drops her off to daycare before heading to work himself.
Most of our day, Alden’s and mine, zooms by with meetings, phone calls and work. Before I know it, it’s the end of the day. I bust out of work like superman on a mission to catch the 5:30 pm bus home. My commute is a bit daunting. On a good day it’s an hour and a half door-to-door, but with traffic I get home closer to Naomi’s bedtime, which is around 7:30 pm. On evenings that I commit to my pro bono efforts, I don’t make it home until after Naomi’s bedtime and miss the fun of our evenings altogether. My husband’s commute is much shorter and he has more flexibility with work, so he drops off and picks up Naomi every single day. In writing this I have realized how much I enjoy the evenings we do get to spend together as a family, even though they seem so short.
What does the division of labor look like in your home?
The division of labor in our home goes through cycles each week depending on our respective work schedules and any attempts to exercise. We are both pretty exhausted by the end of the work day and end up playing catch up with house chores from Friday through Sunday. However, there are two chores or responsibilities that remain constant every week, Alden is our full time chef and I am forever buried under laundry.
Did you actively decide on this balance, or did it kind of just happen that way?
As a family, we are always looking for ways to be more efficient with our time and often create to-do lists, calendars and schedules for our chores, etc. They don’t always work but we are open to giving anything a try. Our family motto could be “a constant effort to do better.” Our housework dynamic is always in search of a better routine in an effort to have more time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. So our “balance” is always changing and is being tweaked from week to week, which is an active, intentional decision on our part.
Is there anything you think could work better about how you share the load at home, and how do you think you could go about achieving that shift?
There are several things that I can change to make our lives at home better, but committing to them is the hard part. The recurring challenge we face is cooking dinner every night and still being on track for Naomi’s bedtime. We have tried several times to meal plan and cook on the weekends and it has resulted in smoother weeknights. However, on weekends, we love hosting our friends and family when we can, and cooking for the week is often forgotten. As a family, we need to learn to say NO to Sunday plans. Wish us luck in the new year, this may be our family’s New Year’s Resolution for 2019!
What are your favorite tips and tricks for reducing the workload at home?
We are blessed to have extended family that is always around and willing to travel to help. At first, I wanted to do a lot of things on my own, especially when it came to Naomi, but now I realize I need the help and welcome it. Naomi is blessed with three loving aunts and both sets of grandparents that jump at the chance of watching her. We cannot express our gratitude enough to our village: not only do they watch our daughter but when the grandmas come over, our refrigerator and freezer are stocked with meals and all our laundry is clean and pressed. Mom’s love really is the best! My biggest tip to any parent is to accept help in any form that it is provided. It may not be exactly what you asked for but if you are open to it, it can be a blessing in so many ways.
By discussing what we need to accomplish and our expectations for the week, we are able to roughly design a week that works for both of us.
One practice Alden and I have almost every Sunday evening is to go over our schedules together. By discussing what we need to accomplish and our expectations for the week, we are able to roughly design a week that works for both of us. During this time we also call dibs on events or things we want to do outside of work and home. We may not always do a great job carving out time to spend together, but we have somehow successfully managed to give each other time for ourselves. At least twice a month (but usually more often) we each spend time away solo, which can mean dinner with friends, or doing something we enjoy like golf for my husband and a girls night for me. It’s a nice treat that we can gift each other without keeping tabs on who gets to spend more time alone. Our Sunday evening scheduling is key to ensure that as a family we have a successful week.