3 steps to parenting together, happily

Parenting is hard. That’s the truth. Sorry if you thought it was all going to be peaceful moments staring at a beautiful, sleeping baby. Parenting with another individual (or more) is even harder. Whether you are de facto, married, dating, separated, divorced or otherwise, quite often you need to make parenting decisions together. Sometimes that could be about big issues such as when they can go out at night without you, curfew time when they’re teenagers etc whereas other times they are simpler issues such as do we make them hug their relatives or not and should they go to sleep at 7pm or 8pm.

Just having two parents who are individuals makes things tricky because you’ve both been brought up differently with often contrasting values. I remember before we had kids my husband and I used to be bewildered when we heard about a couple separating when they had young children or even a baby and we’d wonder how they could leave each other at that time. Once we had our babies we would often remark to each other that we know fully understood how it could happen and we realised how hard it was to keep our relationship together during those early years.

Are you a mum who is often frustrated by the way your partner parents? Do you lie awake at night worried that you and your partner will drift apart because you approach your parenting so differently? 

You want to feel connected to your partner and complement each other’s parenting styles, but you have no time to sit down and talk about it and you don’t know how to approach the topic without it feeling like an accusation to your partner, so you always end up in an argument.

If this sounds familiar, you need my Parenting as a Partnership Plan. It will align you and your partner in your parenting goals and strategies and set you both on the same path towards parenting as a partnership. The Plan has three stages and you can choose the order or even whether you do all the stages. 

Stage 1: Individually complete the plan on Moving Forward Together. Print the first page of the Plan twice (or more if you have more than two parents involved in your partnership) and each parent completes the questions on their own. This gives each parent the time to consider their opinions and answers without having to find the words in the moment to explain things to their partner.

Stage 2: Come back and discuss your answers and develop a way to move forwards together. This page can be reprinted every time there is a new issue you’d like to discuss with the parents involved in your partnership. It is a great way to make the issue feel like something separate to each parent involved and not belonging to anyone in particular but to your parenting plan as a whole.

Stage 3: Make a list of the household jobs that need to be done to keep the house running from taking out the rubbish, the washing, unpacking the dishwasher and changing the sheets on the bed. Make sure you write down everything. Again, you might need to print this page twice or more to get everything down. Take a few days to do this part (a week works well) – you’ll be surprised at the things you forget about until you’re doing them. Together, start owning those jobs and dividing the labour of the house. It doesn’t mean it can’t change and you can’t help each other out and swap around occasionally, but it’s a great place to start. This stage ensures that every job is accounted for a removes that feeling that your jobs are unseen and unappreciated.

Once you’ve worked your way through the Parenting as a Partnership Plan for the first time, you will realise how useful it can be for anytime in your relationship when you need to find a solution to an issue. It’s not about who is going to get their way, but more about parenting as a partnership, just like working with a colleague on a project at work. The Plan helps remove the emotion and bring you closer to a solution.