Before I became a mother, my husband and I had an equal partnership: we both worked full-time – he as a digital media consultant, I as a freelance writer – and contributed 50-50 to the household budget. We also tried to divide the household chores evenly.
Then I got pregnant and had a baby – and equality flew out the window.
I was mentally and physically exhausted, nursing the baby around the clock, and felt overwhelmed with all the household chores. I felt like I had lost my energy. There was also no denying that, although I was very successful as a writer, my self-employment could not have covered the costs of childcare.
So I decided not to go back to my job full time after maternity leave. Instead, I convinced my husband of a very unusual agreement: instead of hiring a nanny or sending our four-month-old baby to daycare, I took care of the childcare myself, as well as housekeeping and other family responsibilities. So instead of paying professionals to do it, we just paid me.
My husband saw that I was not doing well. And he started taking on a larger share of the family budget (which was like a raise for me). He took on more of the child-rearing and household chores without my even asking. And I hired help. I spent a large part of my income hiring a nanny who would help me three days a week.
With this reliable help, the situation became more bearable.
A valuable lesson
But then something unexpected happened: my husband lost his job. And we had to switch roles. Complete. He did household chores and child rearing, and I worked full time.
It was eye opening. I realized how much I missed my old job. I found how I nearly doubled my income, not least because of the time management and multitasking skills I had acquired while being a full-time mom.
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And my husband had to find out firsthand how much I had achieved in the past year. More than once, when I came back to the apartment from my office – the café on the corner – I found my normally quiet husband in tears, overwhelmed and frustrated by all the tasks he still had on his list.
My family had a valuable lesson to learn: Raising a child is hard work, harder than my husband and I could ever have imagined. As soon as my husband found a new job, we decided to leave childcare to the professionals. At the age of two, Oscar will be spending the whole day in daycare from autumn.
This article appeared on NewsABC.net in November 2019. It has now been reviewed and updated.