Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

About Marc & Amy

Marc and Amy We are a married couple who live in a middle-class suburb of Boston.  Marc earns his share of our income as an IT desktop support staff member for a market research firm in downtown Boston.  He commutes to work by bicycle (or bus in bad weather), and works three 8-hour days and two half-days each week.*  He is home with our kids on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  Amy earns her share as a pharmacist in a large ambulatory medicine practice with clinics throughout greater Boston.  She coordinates a group of clinical pharmacists who are responsible for educating the clinics’ physicians about the safe, effective, and cost-effective prescribing of medications.  Think of this as the opposite of a drug company representative who details physicians to use the newest and most expensive medications.  Amy’s office is based in our home town, so she can walk to work in nice weather.  She works Mondays through Thursdays.  Fridays, she is home with our kids (once their school day is over).  We each work 32 hours per week.

Marc has a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA.  Amy has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.  We are both in our middle (OK, late) 40’s.  We have two children – a daughter (we’ll refer to her as M) who is now 8 years old and a son (we’ll call him T) who is 5 years old.  Both of them began 18 hours per week of nonparental care at 4 months of age, after Amy returned to work from maternity leave.  They first attended part-time daycare at a neighbor's home, and then part-time preschool before entering elementary school.  M is now in third grade.  T attends Kindergarten.

We have practiced equally shared parenting since M’s birth.  In fact, we made mention of our dreams to equally share on our first date!  At home, we both tackle chores – sometimes in a planned manner (e.g., for laundry, Marc does ‘darks’ and Amy does ‘whites’), sometimes according to who is available (e.g., dinner is the responsibility of whoever is home with the kids), and sometimes simply by who notices something needs to be done first.  We each have our favorite tasks, often right down traditional gender lines such as lawnmowing for Marc and birthday party planning for Amy, but we can pinch-hit for each other on almost any front.

To make do on two part-time salaries, we budget our money carefully.  We have downsized to one car, take modest vacations, cancelled cable TV (a good thing for family togetherness too!), and accept lots of hand-me-downs.  We also take advantage of local free recreation almost every day by going to our town’s playgrounds, municipal pool, outdoor concerts, and fairs.

And don’t forget the fun stuff!  Amy is an amateur violinist, playing in a string quartet several times a month and attending a chamber music camp annually.  She also enjoys knitting, gardening and inline skating.  Marc loves biking, woodworking and fantasy baseball.  M is into her violin, reading and swimming, and T loves gymnastics, fiddling (violin), and ice/inline skating!

Equal sharing is our joint hobby.  At least when it extends beyond simply doing it to activities like creating and maintaining this website, running workshops, and consulting with specific couples.  We are passionate about sharing this option with others, and giving parents or soon-to-be parents cause to rethink their priorities if they value balance more than worldly riches or accomplishments.  Equal sharing makes sense on multiple fronts:  

  • It is the next frontier of feminism.  First, we gave women the right to vote and work…now, let’s give them equality at home too.
  • It is a path of balance for men.  Not all men want the burden of breadwinning to eclipse their chance to fully participate in their children’s lives.
  • It is a double-win for kids - intimacy with both their parents.
  • It is great for a good marriage - lots of togetherness and communication…and sex.

On the flip side, however, equal sharing takes guts.  As a generalization, men have to give up the prestige of the overworked power career, and women have to let go of control in the home and with the kids.  Equal sharing also requires compromise and massive amounts of communication and jack-of-all-trades competence.

Since starting this website in 2006, we have had the pleasure of watching the world wake up to the possibility of equally shared parenting.  No, it's not easy.  But it is wholly possible.  Our aim is to bring this dream within reach for all couples who want it, and we've written so much more about the practical how-to of this lifestyle in our book, Equally Shared Parenting: Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents (now also available in paperback).

Every day we feel so fortunate to have achieved this balance of work/home/family/fun.  Amy says ‘how lucky we are’ and Marc says ‘it’s not luck…we created this’.  It is probably a mix of both that led to the specifics of our current situation, but the gist of it can be created by any couple – assuming their priorities are aligned to allow for the needed sacrifices.  No matter what, we are deeply thankful.

*For the 10 years prior to 5/29/07, Marc worked for a financial services company with a schedule of three 10-hour days per week (Monday/Wednesday/Friday). More recently, he worked four 8-hour days per week (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday) to be home with the kids on Wednesdays prior to our youngest child entering Kindergarten in 2010.

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