There is a new movement happening among couples trying to conceive; they are signing ‘baby prenups’. Instead of a marriage prenup, that dictates who gets what in the event of a divorce, a ‘baby prenup’ is there to dictate which parent is responsible for which chore in the house. The idea is to create an equalized environment in which the division of labor that entails running a home and raising a small human doesn’t default to becoming a mom’s sole responsibility.
But is it a good idea?
We’ve long heard the rumblings of mothers who are fed up with shouldering the mental and emotional load of caring for a family and that often includes the housework, the errands, and the middle-of-the-night worry sessions about how to pay for everything. So, in this light, the idea that a couple would have a signed contract that says something to effect of, ‘you take out the trash, I do the dishes’ seems like it makes sense.
But the major flaw with this movement’s central core that by putting the work assignments in writing that everything will be hunky-dory is that bringing a baby into a relationship is basically bringing in a big, expensive, ball of chaos. Sure, it may be a cute ball of chaos but trust me when I tell you, raising kids never goes as planned.
Celebrity life coach, Vanessa Petronelli told Good Morning America, “A new baby is probably the biggest life-changing transition a couple can go through, it will impact every area of a couple’s life: finances, work-life, morning routines, exercise, sleep schedule, sex life, extended family dynamics and more.”
She’s right. Kids are crazy expensive and exhausting. With all of the change that they will inevitably bring, it’s definitely worth having honest conversations about the kind of work involved and who does what. Knowing the expectations two people will have of each other will make for fewer arguments. But – and I cannot stress this enough – viewing parenting expectations as black and white and in writing will definitely lead to knock-down-drag-out arguments if there is little to no room for life to get in the way and for each parent to be flexible and compassionate.
If one person is sick and doesn’t do the dishes, leaving them for the other parent to do, how are you going to handle it if you’re living by the stark definition of a baby prenup? Do you get angry or do you have a heart and let it slide?
Instead, using the idea of a prenup as a launching point for conversations around how to deal with the immense workload of raising a family is probably a healthier and easier approach. Also, by making sure to keep your communications skills alive and circling back to the conversation around expectations as often as needed in your relationship, you can probably save a ton of simmering frustration.
Besides, you’re going to need to have a united front for when your kids discover they can take off their own diaper. Be sure you like your partner for that battle because sh*t will most definitely get real.