Sharing of Breadwinning:
Tips and Tricks
Equal breadwinning is possible with imagination and courage. Each
parent, and then the couple together, should brainstorm ways in which
to create the work-life he/she wants. Some ideas to consider for
physical work arrangements are staggered schedules that minimize
overlap between the two parents, working opposite shifts ('tag-team
parenting'), compressed work hours, reduced hours, and working from
home to reduce commuting time.
You may want to visit the Financial
Calculator section of EquallySharedParenting.com to try out various
options for work hours and shifts to see what the resulting cash
picture would be for each option.
How to ask for a schedule
How do you approach your boss with a request for your idea of a
flexible schedule and increase your chances of getting a ‘yes’?
Not all organizations or companies have set up rules for
job-sharing, reduced hours or flex time. Not all employers will
embrace your request, and not all will be able to honor it.
Assuming you have at least a modicum of hope for a positive outcome,
here are some basics to improve that chance:
- Take responsibility
for the plan. Create a
thoughtful plan for how your ideal schedule might work in your current
position and why it can be a ‘win’
for your company.
positive. Don’t avoid
approaching your employer with your ideas because they have not been
done before. Think
positive and be cognizant of the company’s needs. Then,
ask. If you are rejected, retool your proposal and ask
again. And again.
- Build up seniority.
you stick with a job, or
at least a company, for many years, you are a known entity when it
comes time to ask for reduced hours or a non-standard
- Be a good worker.
with seniority is the idea that you are known to be
competent, helpful and productive at the workplace. Win awards
for your creativity, high quality work, and service to others.
Take responsibility for new projects or programs. Prove yourself
worthy. Meet deadlines. Be cheerful. Then, when you
ask for a different schedule, your company will know that losing you
would be a bad thing.
work each day
Once you are entrenched in a work schedule that allows for equal
sharing, you’ll need to make your workdays run smoothly with your
spouse and with your children’s schedules. Here are some ideas to
- Review each
upcoming week with your spouse. At some point, perhaps
each Sunday evening, sit down together to go over the coming week’s
- Trim away wasted
time. Take a look at your commute to see if you can reduce
it or turn it into something more fun (giving you some recreation at
the same time). Maybe you could bike or walk to work? Maybe
you have a hellish commute and you want to consider moving closer to
work or switching to a job closer to home. This change is, of
course, much bigger than getting out a bike, but it merits
- Know where your
money goes. Equal breadwinners have equal decision making
power over purchases. Unless you maintain separate bank accounts,
you will both need to weigh in on buying decisions, big and sometimes
small. We highly recommend creating a budget to track family
expenses. This budget does not have to be onerous,
time-consuming, or terribly restrictive. But, by tracking
receipts and paychecks, you can get a good idea over time of where your
money is spent in various categories.
- Trade off staying
home with sick children. Typically, the mother is the
employee who stays home when the kids are not feeling well enough to go
school. Not so in equally sharing families.
- Expect to use
vacation time when childcare is unavailable. Equally
sharing parents also trade off taking vacation days to cover weeks when
school is out, early dismissal days, or parent/teacher conference
time. There is usually plenty of warning for these
events. Splitting the responsibility between parents reduces the
impact on either spouse’s employer.
We don’t have any statistics for the percent of couples who practice
our definition of equal sharing, but we suspect it is still extremely
small. Our workplaces need brave souls to pave the way for
meaningful reduced-hour and flex-time careers for both women and
men. We need to make this option far more accessible to the
average worker, whether he or she considers work to be a career or
simply a job. We need to show employers that equal sharing brings
benefits to the workplace as well.
Only those who believe fervently in balancing work and family will take
the leaps necessary to achieve this arrangement. These people are
our spokesmen and spokeswomen, and our mentors.
©Copyright 2008 Marc and Amy Vachon