Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands. ~ Ronald Reagan
My wife’s job, as I’ve mentioned previously, requires that she spend part of her time working in another state. For that reason, I’ve been a part-time single parent since my son was about six months old. I have no complaints or regrets – the experience has been fantastic and without a doubt, I’ve become a better person for it.
Recently, an acquaintance asked if my wife and I have achieved “household equity.” That is, do we share household and parenting duties equally? A good question: When my son was a baby, there was a time when my wife carried a greater load, however today, despite a few bumps along the road, I’m proud to say we split household responsibilities equally.
If you were to ask me for tips on achieving household equity, I’d respond with these two. Keep in mind, though, I’m not an expert and every situation is unique.
- If you’re both gainfully employed, don’t allow how much money you make determine the weighting of household and parenting duties.
- Start with the list of things you don’t like doing rather than the things you do like doing.
Now, some might view the first tip as irrational, after all, if you have a situation where say, a wife makes $100K per year and her husband $50K per year doesn’t it make financial sense for the wife to spend more time working and less time at home? I’ve met plenty of folks who use this rationale to justify household inequity. Still, by making the choice to give first priority to the well being of my family I personally believe salary comparison to be largely irrelevant to the discussion of household equity (that is, as long as I’m making less than she is).
Regarding the second item, there are a handful of household/parenting things I really detest doing. For example, I absolutely loathe trying to get a duvet cover on and I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps it’s the fact that every time I negotiate the task it seems to take four times longer than it should and leaves me feeling like a complete idiot and wondering what I really got out of my education.
By the way, looks like Jedi Yuka Yoneda has an answer to this problem in a recent Inhabitat article (h/t kottke).
I also happen to detest filling up the soap dispensers in the house with the bulk soap. Being an exercise in patience that I do not have, every time I’m given the task I end up trying to move things along just a little bit too fast, inevitably creating a gigantic mess to clean up.
By starting with the list of things we both dislike doing, it became much easier to negotiate areas of responsibility and iterate towards household equity (and happiness). As a result, today my wife takes care of the duvet covers and soap dispensers while I take care of the garbage and morning dishes.
So, how does all of this relate to running a small business?
With a 2017 goal of keeping my blogs shorter (so I have more time to take the garbage out and empty the dishwasher) how about picking this back up next week? Until then, let me make an addition to our ever expanding Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ playlist by way of a song by the prolific M.I.A. called “Borders” off of her new album AIM.
I thought of the song while reflecting on Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus,” a poem that appears on a bronze plaque inside the Statue of Liberty (pictured above). Regarding the words in the poem, as noted by our former President:
Let us remember these words. For it falls on each generation to ensure that that lamp – that beacon – continues to shine as a source of hope around the world, and a source of our prosperity here at home. (source)
Let us remember these words indeed.
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Photo credit: melanzane1013 – Emma Lazarus plaque, Public Domain, Link