In my earlier post 12 essential steps to plan your return to paid work with confidence, Step 9 is to Negotiate the Household Arrangements
What is included in the household arrangements?
Household arrangements includes everything from housework, DIY, managing children’s afterschool activities, to emergency childcare arrangements.
Various studies in recent times show that, despite all the talk of the modern Dad and equality in the home, responsibility for the majority of the household chores still falls to the woman. This is supported by a study from the European Social Survey (ESS).
What do you think? Is it OK that a mum (or dad) takes responsibility for the majority of the chores while she is on a career break? What happens in reality though? In my personal experience (and that of some of my clients) is that the Dad feels he has every right to have ‘leisure’ time at the weekend. After all, he’s worked long hours all week to provide for his family. So maybe he spends Saturday on the golf course, or spends Sunday morning out on his bike with friends. While the mum gets to spend yet another day at home with the children. When does mum get a break? To do something different, to do something more grown up. The bulk of the household management, budgeting and chores tend to fall to the stay-at-home parent and that seems to make sense, as long as mum (or the stay-at-home parent) has some ‘me’ time too.
Have the discussion before you go back to work
When you go back to paid work, it is essential to sit down with your partner and ‘renegotiate’ the household arrangements. Think back to before you had children. Were you responsible for everything? If yes, how did that work out? How did it feel? If no, what has changed? What needs to change now?
In my family, we did this the other way round – I went back to work and my husband was the stay-at-home parent for a few years. When he went back to work, albeit part-time, we changed some of the arrangements. Even now he does the food shopping, the cooking and most of the ironing and cleaning. I am responsible for ‘remembering’ everything – who has an Inset day, who needs their PE kit, making sure everybody is up and dressed in time for school, organising birthday parties, Christmas card lists …
It might sound a bit too professional or corporate to negotiate the arrangements but, let’s be frank, it takes two to make a baby. It makes sense to have the discussion before you go back to work. Ask your partner to suggest what chores he will take responsibility for. Be direct. Men and women communicate differently. Be aware of that. It is not enough to simply list out what needs to be done and expect the man to work out what he needs to do. You need to be specific or ask him to be specific. Men tend to assume that if something needs doing, you will ask. Whereas women tend to assume that if something needs doing, he will offer.
Don’t wait until you’re exhausted and worn out from trying to manage the household and going back to work. Far better to have this conversation when you are feeling positive and calm so that it doesn’t turn into an outraged ranting session.
What can you outsource?
Think about “outsourcing” too. What can you ask somebody else to do for you e.g. ironing or cleaning? Don’t forget to include this cost into step 7 “Do the maths”.
Don’t forget the emergency childcare arrangements
It’s not just the household chores you need to discuss. What will happen if one of your children is sick and can’t go to nursery or school? Will you be using a childminder? What will happen if she is ill? Who will stay at home? Will this depend on who has what meetings or clients? It is far better to have the discussion in advance – because it will make it easier to discuss if, or rather when, the worst happens.
Never too soon to start planning
If you are a mum who’s taken a career break, and now you want to go back to paid work, these 12 essentials will get you started on the journey to go back to work with confidence. It’s never too soon to start planning.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? Lack confidence? Need help?
If you know you WANT to go back to work, but you also know that you NEED SOME HELP, book a call to find out how I can help you. The Confident Mother Experience may be just want you need. If you’ve reached that stage of trying to work it out on your own – go back to your previous career, change career or start a new business – and you’re just feeling completely overwhelmed or driving yourself nuts going round and round in circles AND you’re also smart enough to know that the best plan is to get some help, let’s talk. Click here to find a time that works for you.
I designed The Confident Mother Experience to help you identify the exact steps you need to take, when AND in which order. You will update your LinkedIn profile, refresh your CV, start networking, get clarity on what’s most important to you, and create a realistic and positive action plan to go back to work with confidence.
I am here to support you every step of the way. Most months I run free online training on this and similar topics – don’t miss out – leave me your details, and I’ll send you a reminder in advance.