A new way to balance the child care workload between parents?
Published on Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Last updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2019
The pre-nup is a well-known couple's marriage contract, but it's not the only 'nup' being drafted nowadays. The growing popularity of the baby-nup is shifting the focus from marriage to children, and this parental agreement promises fairness and transparency around child care and chores.
Here we read into the baby-nup in more detail and consider how this equitable approach can help mums return to work more easily.
What is a baby-nup?
A baby-nup is a pre-written agreement between a couple that sets expectations and details parenting arrangements before their child is born, or even conceived.
It can be thought of as a 'parent pact' or 'chore chart for grown-ups', and as well as sharing out child care duties and allocating household jobs, a baby-nup can do more than just divvy up nappy changes and child care drop-offs.
This couple's contract can be used to allocate 'me time' for parents, hello date nights and gym sessions, and agree on serious matters like disciplinary techniques, schooling, the number of children a couple will have and even custody arrangements in the case of a split.
Baby-nups can be formal or informal. Some couples like to set things in stone, with regimented schedules and tasks, while others use the baby-nup as a general way to divide up labour and keep things fair, with room for movement once the baby arrives and circumstances change.
How can a baby-nup help women return to work?
Many mothers still do the lion's share of housework and child care, and all those hours of feeding, washing, playing, shopping and so on, impact on women's working lives.
They may have less time for paid work or are under more pressure when balancing employment and parenthood, so the idea of sharing out care-giver responsibilities through a baby-nup has many attractions.
Planning a return to work:
By agreeing on roles and duties with their partner prior to commencing maternity leave, women are able to communicate with their employer well ahead of time and work out timing and conditions for their return, such as 12 months off, then part-time hours.
Healthier parenting-employment balance:
By sharing jobs at home and organising the family calendar, a baby-nup can have a positive effect on women's coping mechanisms, physical health, and overall wellbeing. It may reduce negatives, like stress, guilt, and fatigue, with the return to employment being manageable and more enjoyable.
Improve communication and reduce conflict between parents:
Being in a good relationship gives women the support and positive grounding they need to take on a new role at work, meet challenges, and progress in their career.
Meeting practical challenges and covering child care costs:
With their partner helping out more, a baby-nup can free up extra time for women to do paid work, earning more money, and meeting child care costs.
By sharing parenting responsibilities, parents can also better coordinate drop-offs and pick-ups to fit their child’s care into the working week, and deal with unexpected circumstances, like their child getting sick.
Overall, is a baby-nup a good idea?
The baby-nup has caused quite a stir on social media, with people both for and against it. At the end of the day, this parenting strategy comes down to the individual couple.
For some, a baby-nup is all about preparation and sharing the load. It can help in feeling comfortable about the changes ahead, and achieving balance and order when baby arrives, while others find it to be a bad idea, or just plain odd to create a parenting contact.
For her part, marriage and family therapist, Dr Jane Greer says that, 'Who's going to be doing what [when the baby is born], and how things are actually going to shape up, is very often unknown, [so] having a conversation, having some clarity about it can only be enlightening and helpful.'
Parenting is a big job, so whether this conversation is written down or happens in passing, go with whatever works for you and your partner. Don’t be surprised if you hear of more couples saying 'Yup' to the baby-nup.
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