My Husband Is Convinced We Are “Inefficient” Parents. Huh? (2024)

Care and Feeding

Is everyone else really doing it better?

Advice by Nicole Chung

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My husband feels like he never has time to do things, and I’m curious how other parents (of littles) divide up the necessary work of the household/kid stuff. We have a 1.5-year-old, and are discussing having another. But my husband seems very frustrated with how our lives are (not) organized and says he feels like he never has time to have his own life. He seems to think that other parents are more efficient in how they handle things. I think that at this age, we just aren’t going to have a lot of time. This is how we split things up.

In the mornings, we tend to trade the kid back and forth while each of us gets ready for work and while getting her ready for daycare. We have also been alternating days for each of us to try to get a workout in. In the evenings, one parent watches the kid (at the playground if possible) while the other cooks dinner. After dinner, one parent does bath, pjs, milk, and brushing teeth while the other cleans up, and then we both come in to read books and say goodnight. After the kid’s bedtime (7:30-8), we finish cleaning up/getting ready for the next day, and have some time to ourselves. The weekends are admittedly kind of chaotic, but on Sundays I have been taking the kid to swim class and then the playground afterwards while he either grocery shops or has time to himself. (Kiddo is in a very “mommy” phase right now, so it is sometimes difficult when it is his turn to watch her.)

I like to think we are pretty good about giving each other time—he has been taking music lessons every other week in the evenings, and on those days I handle all the nighttime stuff. I occasionally go out with friends and he solo-parents on those evenings. We do not have family nearby or any regular babysitters. Are we being inefficient? Is there a better way to get everything done?

—Seeking Efficiency

Dear Seeking Efficiency,

To some extent, this is just life with a 1.5-year-old. Most parents of kids that age who are sharing childcare labor (as opposed to one parent doing most/all of it) have very little free time. It’s ok to be frustrated about that fact—it’s an exhausting time, though not without its joys, as you know.

You’re already trying to make sure you each get a little time off from parenting now and then, which is great—keep doing that, and be willing to build in more flexibility if needed, so you both have the freedom to recharge and/or do at least some of the other things that are important to you. Whether you decide to try for another kid or stick with one, I do recommend finding a good babysitter. If it’s too much to stay on top of chores or cooking every single night with your jobs and an active toddler, think about what you can afford to offload, even temporarily (and lower your house cleanliness standards, something I personally did a long time ago). It’s worth thinking about whether you could use some of your evening/weekend time more efficiently—catching up on housework, cooking meals ahead, doing laundry, etc.—but remember that rest is crucial, too. Don’t feel guilty if you mostly use that buffer time between the kid’s bedtime and yours to relax and recharge.

When it’s hard and you don’t have a spare moment, remember that this is one stage of parenting; it isn’t forever (though of course, if you decide to have another baby, that would reset the clock). You and your husband are not disorganized, or at least no more disorganized than any other parent of a toddler. This is just a really hectic time, and most of your day is naturally going to be spent either working or meeting your kid’s needs.

—Nicole

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