By Samara Fabrick, LCSW
Do you find yourself fighting with your husband about who changed the last poopy diaper? Are you
battling over who’s going to the farmers market to get the organic produce for your homemade baby
food? Are you feeling like you are carrying the lion’s share of the responsibilities in your family? You are
One of the most common complaints in families with young children is the frustration with all the
responsibilities that arise with having a family and the endless list of tasks that have to be taken care of.
I hear couples reminisce about the good old days, before children, when it felt like the household duties
almost took care of themselves. So why do things change so dramatically when babies come along?
I attribute the tension and stress about responsibilities to The Giant Invisible Scoreboard. Unbeknownst
to you, before you return home from the hospital with your beautiful new baby, fairies come into your
living room and deposit an invisible scoreboard that you and your spouse start using to keep score of
who does what. You may not even be aware of the scoreboard in your home (it is invisible), but you find
yourself keeping track of the things you have done and that your spouse hasn’t. You start fighting about
things you never dreamed of being an issue in your marriage. You may even start feeling resentment
about how much you are doing and your partner isn’t. What’s the solution? Remove the scoreboard
from your life. Here’s the best way to deal with the onslaught of new responsibilities that comes with
each new child.
– Choose a project manager – Each family benefits from having one person that can manage the family
and delegate to others what needs to be done. If you have a project manager, it can avoid confusion,
feeling bossed around and a misappropriation of tasks.
– Split up responsibilities based on strengths – We are all better at certain things and therefore enjoy
them more. If you love to go to the market, take that on as your responsibility. If you find that folding
laundry is meditative, it’s yours. Try to split up the tasks by choosing things you like to do before having
to play rock, paper, scissor for the stuff that you don’t like.
– Use Sweat Equity – Sweat Equity is the concept that you don’t have to do the same things for there to
be equality in the relationship so you just have to both be sweating equally. If you don’t feel that your
partner is sweating as much as you, the best solution is to talk about it. Communication is the key to
– Don’t Keep Score – If that Giant Invisible Scoreboard sneaks back into your home, trash it. Keeping
score leads to frustration, resentment and overall misery in a relationship.
Remember, the best way to get things done as a family is to embrace your responsibilities and
appreciate the things your partner does as well. The more you work as a team, the easier things will be.
Samara Fabrick, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, specializing in life issues
surrounding relationship, marriage and family.