There is always a default parent and in our family and household that is me. I want to start off by saying this isn’t an attack on the other parent, and every family looks different this is just how it is in my household and family. I also want to preference that I’m not saying the non-default parent is a crappy parent or partner they just don’t have to think about all the logistics that go into parenting. I am also going to talk about things the other parent can do to help the default parent again this is just general and may or may not work for you.
Being the default parent means you are the parent who does most of the day-to-day parenting. These are things like making sure the family is fed at meal times, getting everyone ready for the day, doing the school runs, helping with homework, and keeping on top of housework. Also knowing everyone’s schedules and plans without having to check calendars or with the other parent as we organize all of these things. Even things like buying birthday gifts for friends, organizing holidays and celebrations, appointments, school activities, haircuts, organizing seasonal clothes and what fits the children, and buying clothes/shoes. The default parent is the parent who knows all of the children’s routines and handles all of the children’s emotional, physical, and mental needs automatically.
This isn’t to say the non-default parent doesn’t do any of these things but they don’t do it every time without fail or the need to be asked. Some tasks I’m not sure they even know exist or think about as the default parent just sorts it. The non-default parents are also the ones who can just leave the house without worrying if the children will be cared for and have everything they need. This isn’t to say the non-default parent is unable to meet the children’s needs but it doesn’t come as second nature as it does for the default parent. When the default parent makes plans to go out without the children we need to ensure the non-default parent is aware they will be left in charge of the children. If both parents are planning on being away from the children the default parent is the one who makes sure childcare is sorted and the children and the person watching the children have everything they will need while you’re away.
I’m not sure there is a way for there not to be a default parent but there are ways for the non-default parent to help the default parent in day-to-day life. These may not be all of the things you can do but these are a good starting point.
Help Around The House Without Being Asked.
This may sound really simple but you would be surprised actually how many times you automatically presume the default parent will do what needs doing without thinking. Simply putting the dishes away or cleaning them helps, changing the washing over, putting the washing away. Even cleaning the toilets and rinsing the bath out after you’ve used it are all little tasks that take a few minutes but are one less thing the default parent has to do.
Take The Children Away.
Either sending the default parent upstairs to lie on their bed and have some time to do whatever they want or have a bath to take the children out for a while without the default parent. Doing this not only gives you alone time with your children but also gives the default parent time away from the children to have time for themself. I would advise trying to make sure the house is somewhat clean/tidy before going out so the default parent doesn’t feel like they need to use to time the children aren’t in the house to tidy up and rest it. I can promise you we still do as it’s so much easier to do it without little people around. However, the idea of doing this is to give the default parent time to not have to think about the family’s needs but focus on their own.
Listen And Remember.
It can be very frustrating and exhausting having to constantly remind the non-default parent of plans and things going on. I know even the non-default parent has things to remember and deal with but try and actively remember what plans they tell you. This can be done by simply making a note of these plans and saving the default parent from having to constantly remind the non-default parent.
Feed The Animal.
I love the term family pet as the default parent is usually the one who feeds, cleans, walks, and cleans up after the “family” pet. So it’s simple – feed the animal. Know what the animal is fed, how much, and how often.
Again, the default parents tend to be the one who takes the majority of the photos. You have your phone on you most of the time so take photos, posed or candid, photos. The default parent wants photos of them with the children that aren’t selfies that’s all I’m saying.
I want to finish this by shouting out the non-default parents as they are usually the default earner default handyman and default gardener. Which has its own trial and tribulations but that’s their thing to blog about if they wish. This is Daddy bear in our family and I want to say he is helpful (at times he has his moments but doesn’t everyone), a good dad and husband. However, his name is repeated constantly throughout the day, the children don’t walk past me to ask him for something they need. He even gets to poop in peace which is something I have forgotten how to do if I’m being honest. As much as he tries to help when we look at what we both do he will also admit I’m the one who does the most parenting. He is the non-default parent and we both know it.