How we share the load at home: Part III

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How we share the load at home: Part III

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. Up third in the series is intellectual property lawyer Rachel Santori, who shares her family’s unique approach to the home-life juggle.

Talk us through your typical weekday, at home and at work. 

Rachel’s daughter is pictured with Bumkins’    Junior Bib    in Watercolor

Rachel’s daughter is pictured with Bumkins’ Junior Bib in Watercolor

I work full time as an intellectual property attorney.  It’s a very busy career but thankfully I love my job and my firm is amazing! The leadership is sensitive to the needs of working parents. I work from home on Mondays and Fridays. Tuesday – Thursday, I go into the office and, on those days, I have an evening nanny who comes in at 5:30pm when my regular nanny’s day ends.  I’ve accepted that, if I go into the office, I am not making it home for bedtime. I found constantly trying to coordinate who will make it home on those days to be too stressful. Having regular evening help allows me to plan to stay late, plan my dinners and events for those nights, or just use that time to go get a manicure!   

What does the division of labor look like in your home?

My husband travels a lot and works very long hours, and is also passionate about his work. Every few days we look ahead and figure out who can do what. If you look at just the division of labor of childcare, it’s probably uneven and I do more of the work. But we don’t think about it that way and, instead, we divide up all of the “labors” of life. My husband fully takes on a lot of chores and responsibilities in other areas to balance the load. In my opinion, I get to do the fun stuff while he’s stuck with taking care of taxes and trash!

Our division is also changing as our daughter grows. In the early days when she was breastfeeding, there was less that my husband could do to contribute. Now that our daughter is walking and talking, it’s all hands on deck and it’s easier for my hubby to pitch in.  

Did you actively decide on this balance, or did it kind of just happen that way?

I thought a lot about it, did a ton of internet research and read several books on this topic. But, in the end, we just had to work out this new dynamic and keep trying new things until everyone felt comfortable. In the beginning, I thought I had “ruined” everything by taking on too much and set a bad precedent of doing everything. I’ve since heard several other moms tell me they thought they did this too. Moms – it’s ok! Once your kid gets older, I think it’s easier for dads to bond with them and they will want to hang out with them and take care of them.   

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? 

One thing that I have come to realize is that this is always a process and we are always improving and figuring things out. I think for me the challenge is to let go and let my husband and others help me more often. 

What are your favorite tips and tricks for reducing the workload at home? 

I love automating as much as possible in our lives. I have Amazon subscriptions for all of our basic necessities, and all of our bills get auto paid. Packing lists have really changed traveling for me – it’s so much less work to follow a packing list rather than to mentally go through everything the baby will need each time we’re going away for a night.

At the moment, I’m experimenting with ways to reduce the load of meal prep each week.  I just tried Jennie’s Kitchen meal delivery, which was amazing, and I’m also looking to try hiring a culinary student to come in on Sundays and cook big batches of family style meals. (If you know of someone, let me know!) 

What’s your family’s approach to balancing the workload at home? Tell us in the comments. And check out Parts I and II of this series with Bumkins here and here.

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How we share the load at home: Part II

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How we share the load at home: Part II

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.  

Pearl’s husband Alden, the family’s ‘full-time chef,’ is pictured heaping deliciousness into her daughter Naomi’s Bumkins    Silicone Grip Dish    in Marble.

Pearl’s husband Alden, the family’s ‘full-time chef,’ is pictured heaping deliciousness into her daughter Naomi’s Bumkins Silicone Grip Dish in Marble.

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.

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Gathering around the table with Mindr and Britax

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Gathering around the table with Mindr and Britax

We were so grateful for the recent opportunity to gather around the table with some of our corporate mamas, to share some laughs and our best ideas about amplifying our efficiency at work and at home. Our friends at Britax joined us to contribute some of their favorite tips for maximizing efficiency on your commute - like their new Nanotex fabric that wipes off clean. And every mama took home a Britax B-Ready G 3 Nanotex Stroller - making us all a little zippier on the go, and giving us each a lil’ somethin’ extra to feel thankful for this Thanksgiving season! Big thanks also to Maman for having us, and to #MINDRMAMA and photographer Rashmi Gill for capturing all the action.

We love that the beautiful Britax B-Ready is carried exclusively by Brixy, a network of independently owned and operated baby stores. There’s no better time than this Small Business Saturday to shop local, so scope out your closest store here.

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