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Full Time, All the Time

with Britt Reints

Forget the 9 to 5; the demands of a working mom aren’t limited by a time clock. Full Time, All the Time is a blog about balancing the many roles of a modern woman - and maintaining your wellbeing while doing it. I am a writer, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and sometimes volunteer living in Pittsburgh. Oh, and I think you look pretty today.

You can also find Britt on Twitter and at

Is your spouse’s job more important than yours (or vice versa)?

Categories: balance


For as long as I’ve been married, I’ve had kids.  And for the majority of that time, both my husband and I have worked full time jobs.

If both parents are working, it stands to reason that both parents would equally share the other responsibilities of being a parent - including playing taxi, cooking dinner, helping with homework, and staying on top of the laundry.  Right?

And yet… not so much.

Many times over the course of the last ten years, one of us has had to bear a larger brunt of the home front burden, despite the fact that we’re both working.  There have been times when I was responsible for the morning and afternoon pickup as well as the majority of the household chores and making sure dinner was served on time.  When one of the kids got sick, it was generally assumed that I would be the one to leave work early or not go in at all.  If my son had to be at a sporting practice at a certain time, I was the one rearranging my work schedule to make it all work.

In my husband’s defense, there have been other times over the course of the same ten years when those roles have been flipped.  I’m certainly not married to a man who is incapable of or unwilling to prepare a meal or run a load of laundry.

And yet, time and time again we find ourselves facing this imbalance in the responsibilities of “everything but work”.  It’s almost as if one person’s job is more important than the other’s - or at least, that’s how it has felt.

Looking deeper, I realize that the person who made the most money at work was often given the most leniency when it came to parenting and at home duties, regardless of how many hours were worked.  At other times, it was generally assumed that one person’s employer would be more understanding of family obligations - usually mine, because for some reason it seems understood that women in the workforce will have family obligations more often than men in the workforce, which is crazy if you think about the logistics of how babies are made.

I’ve seen a lot of this same imbalance among many of my friends.  Although both parents are working fulltime (or more), there seems to be an unspoken rule that one parent’s job is somehow more important.  Or perhaps I’m looking at it entirely wrong and the assumption is that one parent is simply more capable of balancing work and family than the other.

It may surprise you to know that I’m currently the parent with the “more important job”.  At this point in time, I make more money than my husband does, and, while we share the pickup/drop off duties equally, he takes care of the majority of the household chores.

And I’m kind of thinking this is crap.

After all, we’re partners in this parenting/family gig, aren’t we?

Have you ever found that your spouse’s job seemed more important than yours - or vice versa?  Have you found a way to better balance having two working parents in one household? I’m interested to hear your ideas and thoughts!

Photo by whiteafrican on Flickr.

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7 comments so far...

  • haha! yes! Well my husband does most of the parental duty during the week. I commute about an hour (each way) to work. He works about 2 minutes from home and our son attends the daycare at his office. so anytime our son is sick or needs to go to the doctor, my husband generally gets that job (i get to go if there is advanced notice). they also get home first and have dinner, sometimes they wait for me, sometimes they don’t (mostly when i know i won’t be home until close to 8pm). everything else we tend to share.

    i think a lot of the shared responsibility is determined by the flexibility of the job and sometimes it’s the ones that make less money, sometimes it’s those that are closer, sometimes it is all of the above!

    kate  |  March 24th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

  • Mister’s job is more important than EVERYTHING, even holidays. And sleep. Our lives revolve around The Job. ‘Tis the nature of the beast.

    But that job makes more money than I can make as a writer, provides excellent, affordable health insurance and a pension.

    And my profession gives me a hell of a lot more flexibility, so I only work outside the house part-time and I freelance part-time.

    Not that long ago, if Lil’ M was sick or during school vacations it was just assumed that I would take off, and I was also responsible for… just about everything in our lives outside of work. But that changed when I announced I couldn’t hold up the whole world by myself. Now things are more equitable and I have time to actually take that fiction workshop I’ve been wanting to take forever.

    But The Job? Still rules.

    Finn  |  March 24th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

  • My husband and I work for the same company. We parent the same five kids, except they’re all his by birth. I am the breadwinner for our household (our oldest three kids split time between us and their mom and stepdad’s house). I work two jobs. And yet… at our shared company, people have no problem asking him to work late at night or on weekends and overtime at the drop of a hat because they assume “someone else” (me) will be able to take care of the kids and the house. That blows my mind — especially since most of the people making the assumption work or have worked with both of us, and know exactly what the situation is.

    Lylah  |  March 25th, 2010 at 11:20 am

  • We’ve managed to strike a decent balance that somewhat echos much of this article
    …my employer gives me slightly more flexibility….
    ….he gets more vacation days and paid off holidays….
    …I can work from home in a pinch…
    …he’s “on call” one week out of six, plus he’s the technical supervisor and will occassionally get calls even when he’s not “on call”….
    ….my deadlines are project bid deadlines and DO NOT MOVE…

    The only times it has gotten hairy are times when 1. I get stuck working, even from home, working, on the weekend or in the evening, to meet a deadline and 2. He gets called in. Given our child’s age, me working from home without him there to chaperone isn’t going to work.

    The first time this happened, he ran out the door above my protests that he couldn’t and I could just call my neighbor… Well, suffice it to say that he didn’t get to go do the fun thing he wanted to go do the next day because I still had work to do as the neighbor wasn’t home! We now have the rule that whoever is working first in this circumstance gets a pass and if the other gets called in, they get to figure out the childcare sitch.

    CV  |  March 25th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

  • Right now, while my spouse is out of work, I’ve had no qualms putting him in charge of the majority of the household duties, but when we were both working part-time, it was a different story. There were definitely times when I felt my work wasn’t considered as “important” as his because (a) I wasn’t making as much and (b) it was more flexible, and there came a time when I said, “Dude, just because I CAN leave work early to do X or Y, doesn’t mean you can ask me to do that on a regular basis.” As soon as I put it in those terms–that it was about respect–we’ve both been better at taking my job more seriously, no matter how much I make and how flexible it allows me to be.

    Leah  |  March 25th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

  • I have always had jobs that came with “Personal TIme/Vacation Time”, whereas my husband works a manly type job that basically pays by the days worked and there is no PT/VT. That means almost all sick kids days are handled by me. So by the end of the year I am usually out of PT, and sometime out of VT too. This is a bitter pill to swallow. I can’t remember when the last time I took off of work for something that was actually a fun thing.

    amanda  |  March 29th, 2010 at 9:01 am

  • My job tends to be the more flexible one even though I technically am the breadwinner and make more money than he does right now (my husband just started a company, which means more work for less pay).

    Stacey  |  March 30th, 2010 at 3:32 pm