Being a parent is tough, but it’s even harder when you and your partner aren’t on the same page – or one of you is doing all the work.
Parenting with a united approach helps everyone to feel secure and positive, puts resentments on the back burner and helps you work towards your family’s goals much more seamlessly. Here are seven tips to help make it happen:
1. Plan ahead
It’s important to establish what kind of parents you want to be – and what parenting philosophies you subscribe to – early on. For example: how you plan to discipline your kids; your approach to diet and nutrition; bedtime routines; whether you have a rigid or flexible routine; or even what activities your kids might participate in.
Discussing these issues before you’re in the trenches reduces the chance of disagreements later. It also stops kids getting mixed messages about what they can and can’t do. Rather than one rule for each parent, there’s a united front and boundaries are clear.
2. Divide and conquer
In the true sense of the word, a partner is a co-worker, ally and companion – in short, you’re in this together so act like it!
Divide and conquer is a great motto to have, so if you haven’t already designed a system of different tasks and responsibilities for the home and children, then it’s time to do just that! Who books doctor appointments? Who takes them to swimming lessons? Who reads bedtime stories? Nut it all out.
Perhaps there are some tasks that you each prefer over others, or work responsibilities prevent you from doing something, so create a task chart that works for you both equally.
3. Support each other
There’s nothing worse than simmering resentment over one parent not pulling their weight or not getting involved. If your threenager is having an episode with your partner, for example, have their back by supporting them and the way they’re dealing with your child.
Recognise when your partner is struggling and might need more help. If your partner has a very busy work week or is unwell, you could step up and take over some of their responsibilities to lighten their load.
4. Show gratitude
A little thanks goes a loooong way. Even though it might be your partner’s job to take out the recycling or run the bath, thank them for it! It will make them feel appreciated and help encourage a culture of gratitude in your family. While it’s every parent’s duty to care for their kids, being expressive and showing gratitude for the (sometimes relentless!) work that’s being done will pay dividends.
5. Give each other a break
Give each other a night off parenting duties each week, or schedule in regular “me-time” activities for yourselves. When people look after themselves they’re much better at looking after everyone else. And the beauty of having a partner is that you can easily take turns on the parenting front when need be (if you’re organised!)
6. Make parents a priority too
Don’t forget to lock in those date nights – or even a sneaky hotel night away – if you can manage it. It’s important to continue to work on your relationship as well as being great parents. Couples who feel happy and secure have a much better chance of working as a team and creating a happy home for their children.
7. Call in the experts
In some families one partner might be away a lot or do long work hours, making it more difficult to work effectively and equally as a team. In this case extra family support or even hired help might need to be considered to give the more hands-on parent much-needed support or a break.
Or perhaps you and your partner have opposing parenting styles and could benefit from some guidance from a counsellor to ease conflict and help you move ahead?
As a team, you need to look out for each other and identify when some extra help might be required.
What parent teamwork tips work well for you? Share your stories on our Facebook page.