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How to Balance Back-to-School Responsibilities between Mom and Dad

Balancing Back-to-School Responsibilities in a Marriage

Almost half of parents feel an imbalanced divide of child care responsibilities. When back-to-school duties are added to the equation, exhaustion, frustration and resentment often take root. To ensure a fairer, more seamless strategy, consider the following tips for crafting a team plan around your individual schedules and strengths.

Create lists. Don't let back-to-school tasks pile up; instead, weave them into your daily schedule. Jot down every single item on your to-do-list and add deadlines for each one. You and your spouse can place your schedules side-by-side and look for open places to add a key task. It's much easier to break your back-to-school game plan into small, achievable goals, instead of racing around at the last moment trying to get everything done.

Pick up the slack. If your work schedule precludes you from taking a 50 percent share of back-to-school responsibilities, offer to make things up elsewhere. If your spouse is going to be busy making arrangements for your child's school year, you can bet he or she will have less time for household chores. Pick up the slack by embracing these duties, so your partner won't feel resentful about having to do more overall work.

Play to your strengths. When it comes to shopping for school clothing, one parent may be better suited for selecting appropriate apparel. A mom may feel more in touch with a daughter's style and preferences. On the other hand, a dad may feel better suited to help pick out clothing for a son. In some cases, one parent may be blessed with the ability to effectively choose clothing for children of any sex and any age. Whatever the case, if clothes shopping is right up your alley, volunteer to take the lead on this important back-to-school task. You can use this same strategy to pinpoint other responsibilities that might be more suited to your individual strengths.

Negotiate. Avoid becoming competitive over who is shouldering the brunt of the back-to-school burden. If your partner has sound reasons for struggling to meet his or her end of the deal, consider these with an open mind. Try to negotiate ways to bridge the disparities, using open, non-judgmental communication as a catalyst for connection. Remember your ultimate goal is to make sure your child is well prepared for school.

Make your needs known. While understanding is critical to successful teamwork between partners, it's also important to strive for balance. When one partner selfishly prioritizes his or her needs over another, resentment ultimately builds. Head off any hard feelings by openly discussing your concerns. Avoid being vague when talking about shortcomings. At the same time, don't reel off an itemized list of inequalities. If you need more help, make direct requests regarding specific tasks. This can help you avoid convoluted arguments that might make your partner defensive and angry.

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