It’s no secret that as parents, we have a lot on our shoulders throughout the day regarding our kids and schedule. We have our personal lives to manage, our work lives, our kids’ lives, our kids’ appointments, our appointments, the list could go on. That must mean both parents are shouldering the organizational weight, right? Not quite, according to a recent tweet that went viral.
Recently, Ashley Austrew writing for Care.com highlighted a series of tweets from Sonya Bonczek, a publicist and mom, who said she was gathering email addresses for party invitations; when she picked up on a trend she was seeing. Whenever she asked a father for his email address, he instead supplied his wife’s contact information.
“Been running into dads of my 3-year-old’s classmates and asking for their emails for his birthday party,” Bonczek tweeted. “So far, three dads have proceeded to give me their wives’ emails instead. This is now a social experiment.”
Of course, Bonczek would later clarify that she was merely kidding about the social experiment, but she may be on to something. Far too often, moms get singled out as the family manager, even when there is an opportunity for the partner to be involved.
A Nerve Has Been Struck
Even if Bonczek may have been tongue-in-cheek about her experiment, it struck a nerve with hundreds of women who have become quite understandably taxed by being treated as the family secretary, not just by their partners, but by school administrators, doctors, and everyone else that has to contact them about their kids.
According to one mom:
My husband is never, ever included even though we parent 50-50 and sometimes 60-40 in his direction. Don’t get me started on how often everything finance, mortgage, etc. comes to him first, even though I’m the primary borrower and money manager.
Pretty much same here, with the addition that I work full time and my husband has been home with the kids for 20 years now. But still, everyone contacts me first when it comes to scheduling anything.
Even more so, one mom wrote that her husband works at their child’s school, but the school still only contacts her whenever they need to send paperwork or other information.
My husband is a teacher and this fall our oldest son is starting at that school where he works. The school just sent out an informational email about dates and forms we need to fill out, and they only emailed one of us. Guess which one?
On the bright side, dads were also equally annoyed to see other dads not taking a more active role in raising their kids, but alas, others defended the idea of making moms responsible for all of the scheduling. Excuses ranged from forgetting things too quickly to assuming moms are just better at planning events. Some dads even claimed their wives might think they’re having an affair if they give their email addresses to another woman.
“I’d say this to prevent ‘who is this woman you have your e-mail address to?!’ outrages,” said one dad.
Another father came clean in his reply.
I hate to say it, but I too pass off a lot of the networking/scheduling to my wife. She’s the master of the calendar. She tells me where and when, and I get it done. I don’t want to network with kids’ playmates. I handle sports coaching, billing equipment, travel, etc.
As the article points out, this type of setup may work out better for some families. Or perhaps some mothers may love planning. That doesn’t mean moms and wives aren’t inherently better at keeping a schedule or managing other household tasks. One mom said many women only handle the calendar because their partner won’t step up to the plate.
All these comments saying ‘But my wife is better at that stuff.’ My husband says this. I’m only ‘better’ at it because I have been socialized to give a you-know-what about staying on top of calendar planning. Men are literally capable of learning/bothering to use Google calendar.
Step It Up, Guys
Yes, every family has to figure out their unique way of balancing household and childcare tasks, but the bottom line is that women are exhausted.
As I led off with, the U.S. has some of the highest rates in the world regarding ￼parental burnout￼, and moms get the brunt of that strain. Research has shown that moms are tasked with most child care and household work, such as managing the family schedule and activities. Even when moms are the “breadwinners” in their respective families, studies show they still end up doing more of this caregiving work, and not less.
As Austrew points out, many folks might scoff at the problem by saying that moms enjoy caregiving work more or are naturally better at it. Still, in reality, many moms don’t have the equal opportunity to be able to opt-out. Bonczek’s tweet proves that even when male partners have the chance to share the load, too often, they say, “Nah, I’m good,” and give their partner yet another task.
The result has led to dozens of fed-up, and exhausted moms, such as those who initially replied to Bonczek, with moms getting treated more like administrative assistants and not partners. Dads can undoubtedly RSVP to birthday parties, write things down on the family calendar, and more.
Indeed for dads and moms out there, if you’re looking for a great way to stay organized, I’m currently in the middle of reading Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brainand can’t recommend it enough. It’s a spin on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, but more of a modern approach given the vast amount of technology and apps at our fingertips.
Any relationship is always given and take for sure, and sometimes the mom or dad may enjoy the organizational aspect more than the other, as mentioned above. But at the end of the day, simply asking, “how can I help” could go a long way.
I just thought this was a fascinating topic as it relates to parenting. I am interested in getting a reader’s perspective on this topic. What are your thoughts? How does your family split duties when it comes to organization? Can you relate with the above commenters? Yes? No? I would love to get your perspective below!