Equal Parenting

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Marc and Amy Vachon

Our 4 ½-year-old daughter learned her days of the week by which one of us was home with her. If Daddy is dishing out breakfast, it must be a Tuesday. If Mommy's here, it's Friday. Her schedule may vary from day to day, but she figured out the pattern pretty quickly. Now that her little brother has joined the family, he, too, has become familiar with the dance we call Equally Shared Parenting. We've been semi-regular contributors to this blog for awhile now, and wanted to chime in about the division of labor that works for us.

First, a disclaimer: Our goal is not convincing you that equal sharing is better than any other parenting model. It is still rare, although with recent trends in women's breadwinning roles and more employers offering flextime benefits, we hope it will become feasible for many more couples. For parents in traditional roles who are happy with your state of balance, please carry on; you have a good thing going. But for those of you who might want to explore equal sharing, we invite you to keep reading.

When we first met, Marc shared his vision of equal sharing while Amy listened. Marc had purposefully downsized his career from fast-track MBA/engineer to IT support staff person to create a balanced life for himself as a bachelor and wanted to do the same as a husband and father. For Marc, this way of life was an imperative. He didn't want a marriage with him as the primary breadwinner for the next four decades while his wife got to be No. 1 with the children. Amy, on the other hand, was wondering how she would be able to keep her career as a clinical pharmacist and still be the mother she wanted for her someday children. It was a match made in heaven.

Today, two kids later, we've created something we consider pretty special. Both of us work about 30 hours per week in corporate-America jobs we enjoy. Marc works three 10-hour days, and Amy works four regular days (leaving early twice a week to make daycare pickup). Marc may be the only guy in his large financial company to request reduced hours, but hey, he's paving the way for others!

Our children require only 18 hours per week of outside childcare, and have lots of time with each of us. We divide up the housework so that we consciously spend an equivalent amount of time on it, often right along traditional gender lines, such as lawnmowing for Marc and birthday party planning for Amy. However, we can pinch-hit for each other on almost every task. This makes leaving one another in charge of the kids or the house easy. We are both competent and connected parents (no bumbling Dad here) and give each other the respect of a true partner. Neither of us directs the other - a big lesson in letting go for Amy!

Is equal sharing always a breeze? Definitely not! It takes lots and lots of communication. It requires willingness to give up excuses for being crappy at making dinner or changing diapers. It demands valuing simplicity and living within our means, making room for balance rather than a high-powered career that brings in a big salary. It means constantly reworking the standard American dream.

For us, equal sharing is about more than what is fair (although it definitely is fair). It allows us both to feel connected to what matters most in our lives -- our kids, each other, ourselves and our careers -- the net result of which is a balanced life. We've got time in our lives for our most valued hobbies -- Amy plays violin in a longstanding amateur string quartet and Marc enjoys biking, woodworking and tennis -- and for community work as well. We're giving great gifts to our children, too, by letting them learn in large doses from the strengths of two and by being role models of parents with fun, balanced lives who both love being around them.

Amy and Marc Vachon post on On Balance under the pseudonyms 'equal' and 'equal_too'. They live outside of Boston. After five years of practicing Equally Shared Parenting, they recently launched a Web site for equal parents.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 20, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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First!

Welcome back from the long weekend, everyone. Great Guest Blog. Very different from my life in the logistics of their lives...but similar in that my husband and i are both shooting for ways to balance love for our work and love for our kids.

Posted by: Leslie | February 20, 2007 7:08 AM

It sounds very interesting. I am not sure how many jobs allow part time schedules. I just lost part time and will have to go back full time in June. I was wondering if they earn full benefits only working 30 hours a week? What kind of day care arrangement do they have and do they only pay for part time care? Even though my DD does not go to day care 20% of the time, we still pay 100% of the fee. I couldn't find a decent day care that took them on a day or hourly basis. But it sounds interesting and I am not surprised the kids can adjust to different schedules. Kids are pretty smart. As for last weeks topic, I sent DD with all her Valentine's day treats for school. I redid all her cards because the school requires them to be in envelopes now. I am not sure why. Luckily, we had some left over from year one with envelopes. Then I bought 8 plastic containers with red lids at the dollar store for $2. I bought two bags of discount chocolates. I placed 4 mini chocolate bars, 4 hershey kisses, fruit snack, raisins and a sheet of sticker in each container. I couldn't find a red sharpie pen. So I drew blue hearts on each side. Labled with each child's name. That concluded our V-Day gift giving frenzy. I just hope it passes mustared.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 7:40 AM

Interesting blog and a fresh new perspective on how to balance work and family. I applaud Amy and Marc for developing something that seems to truly work for both of them and their children.

Posted by: londonmom | February 20, 2007 7:43 AM

Marc & Amy -- Have you had any backlash in terms of comments from friends, families, or other parents? Are people supportive, or questioning, or jealous?

I also applaud Marc & Amy for coming up with this arrangement, and for spreading the word to other parents about how it works.

Posted by: Leslie | February 20, 2007 7:48 AM

Amy & Mark, sounds like you have the perfect careers, the perfect spouse, the perfect division of labor, the perfect amount of daycare, and the perfect family lifestyle.

I hope you decide to have more kids. Power parents and role models such as yourselves can really make a difference in making this world we live in, well, um, more perfect! :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 20, 2007 7:48 AM

I wonder, Fo4, whether part of what makes this arrangement work is having two kids (or fewer). I am not at all an advocate for limiting the number of kids in a family (freedom of choice and accidents critical here) but the logistics of raising 1-2 kids are far simpler than 3 or more kids.

Posted by: Leslie | February 20, 2007 7:54 AM

It seems that a lot of the husbands in the couples who come up with these types of arrangements have a history of poor/strained relationships with their own fathers and are making deliberate attempts to "be a better father then mine was".

What was Marc's relationship with his father while he was growing up? What is it like now?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 8:01 AM

We have a family in our subdivision where they are both nurses and they have the same arrangement. The part that has the rest of us moms in complete and total awe is that IT ACTUALLY DOESN"T MATTER WHO YOU GET ON THE PHONE WHEN YOU CALL THEIR HOUSE. You know how normally you call and say, "I'm calling about the birthday party/PTA fundraiser/homework/carpool/playdate, etc" and the husband says, "Oh, you'll have to call back when Cheryl gets back from work. I don't know anything about that . . "

We find it both marvelous and completely freaky that in our neighbor's household either parent can answer every question. They truly are equally involved (as opposed to the dad providing daycare while mom is at work, I suppose). Still not sure how they do it -- and I would love to hear from today's guest posters what their secret is for keeping both parents equally in the loop about all that planning stuff. Do they use e-mail? post-its attached to the kids? messages left on the answering machine? Would love to know the answer.

Posted by: Armchair mom | February 20, 2007 8:02 AM

I liked the disclaimer that Amy and Mark added in their commentary.

Unfortunately many parents do not have jobs that can request reduced hours. I too wonder, with their reduced schedules, if their benefits are covered by either employer. This is a huge hurdle.

Also, the temptation to take on full-time work with promotions and large increase in wages being dangled by employers is another hurdle. Over the years I have been offered promotions and nice pay raises to go full time and each time I have turned it down - although it is getting harder as my kids get older.

At what point do the lack of promotions, time, etc. become detrimental to your career?


Posted by: cmac | February 20, 2007 8:04 AM

What a great arrangement! I applaud you both!

Posted by: writing mommy | February 20, 2007 8:14 AM

How too, too perfect. It makes me very skeptical.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 8:14 AM

I have to say that the description of their life makes me a bit envious, though I'm very happy with my situation. But it leaves me wondering if I could relinquish some of the control to my spouse. I think he'd give it a shot, but in all honesty, I don't know if I'd want to!

I guess I must be a lunatic.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 20, 2007 8:20 AM

"How too, too perfect. It makes me very skeptical."

I agree. These folks seem to be superstars who have the skills to negotiate schedules with their employers.

What about the majority of people who are average American smucks who can be replaced in the workplace in a heartbeat? How do they arrange perfect employment lives with no leverage?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 8:21 AM

What I think Amy & Marc have done is to use their talents, their educations, and their skills to negotiate for more TIME rather than MORE MONEY, which is what employees have historically done.

The Vachons' approach is something employers report seeing more and more of --talented employees who refuse promotions and salary increases because they want to keep balance in their lives.

Employers see this trend as a big problem -- and I hope they start offering more flexible solutions to keep employees engaged and productive.

Also, it's important for employers to take a longterm view. If Marc & Amy are happy with their part-time arrangements now, maybe that will translate into loyalty, and when their kids are older, one or both of them may return to traditional fulltime work and increased levels of responsibility at work.

Posted by: Leslie | February 20, 2007 8:30 AM

First of all, thanks for a blog with a delightful minimum of complaining and stereotypes.

My husband and I strive for this as well, with both of us having to work full time schedules - for the money and because we have to for our jobs. We made a decision to take lower paying jobs closer to home and can juggle parenting two kids with short commutes and lots of communication. I will say that we are extraordinarily lucky to have jobs close to home in a good town with good public schools.

The toughest aspect is career. It doesn't matter much to my husband, but as a PhD at a medical school I'm told a lot that I'm 'wasting' my PhD and need to get into a tenure-track position somewhere (there's nothing open here). I do work I enjoy, still work a ton after the kids are in bed, but sometimes there is that pull to fast-track a little more. Maybe when the right opportunity comes up, but I'm so hesitant to trade our nice, balanced life for commutes and headaches.

Hats off to those who do it, and have to do it to keep a job - it will pay off. I had two working, commuting parents and spent a lot of my youth as a latchkey kid, and always knew they loved and supported me. I'm going to go call them now and thank them. Happy Paczi Day!

Posted by: Ann Arbor | February 20, 2007 8:34 AM

First of all, thanks for a blog with a delightful minimum of complaining and stereotypes.

My husband and I strive for this as well, with both of us having to work full time schedules - for the money and because we have to for our jobs. We made a decision to take lower paying jobs closer to home and can juggle parenting two kids with short commutes and lots of communication. I will say that we are extraordinarily lucky to have jobs close to home in a good town with good public schools.

The toughest aspect is career. It doesn't matter much to my husband, but as a PhD at a medical school I'm told a lot that I'm 'wasting' my PhD and need to get into a tenure-track position somewhere (there's nothing open here). I do work I enjoy, still work a ton after the kids are in bed, but sometimes there is that pull to fast-track a little more. Maybe when the right opportunity comes up, but I'm so hesitant to trade our nice, balanced life for commutes and headaches.

Hats off to those who do it, and have to do it to keep a job - it will pay off. I had two working, commuting parents and spent a lot of my youth as a latchkey kid, and always knew they loved and supported me. I'm going to go call them now and thank them. Happy Paczi Day!

Posted by: Ann Arbor | February 20, 2007 8:36 AM

First of all, thanks for a blog with a delightful absence of complaining and stereotypes.

My husband and I strive for this as well, with both of us having to work full time schedules - for the money and because we have to for our jobs. We made a decision to take lower paying jobs closer to home and can juggle parenting two kids with short commutes and lots of communication. I will say that we are extraordinarily lucky to have jobs close to home in a good town with good public schools.

The toughest aspect is career. It doesn't matter much to my husband, but as a PhD at a medical school I'm told a lot that I'm 'wasting' my PhD and need to get into a tenure-track position somewhere (there's nothing open here). I do work I enjoy, still work a ton after the kids are in bed, but sometimes there is that pull to fast-track a little more. Maybe when the right opportunity comes up, but I'm so hesitant to trade our nice, balanced life for commutes and headaches.

Hats off to those who do it, and have to do it to keep a job - it will pay off. I had two working, commuting parents and spent a lot of my youth as a latchkey kid, and always knew they loved and supported me. I'm going to go call them now and thank them. Happy Paczi Day!

Posted by: Ann Arbor | February 20, 2007 8:37 AM

I think this is great. I would love for my husband and I to be able to come up with an arrangement where we both worked reduced hours. Here's an example of real people making it work. I, too, am curious though about how their benefits work. I think that's the biggest roadblock for this kind of thing. I'd think it possible to work it with prorated benefits but so many jobs don't allow for any real benefits for those working less than full-time.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 20, 2007 8:40 AM

Stories like this always amaze me. When we had our first child almost eight years ago, we did the math and figured that we would lose money if I continued working (I worked for a nonprofit and made 1/3 what my husband did). So I quit, and he found a job that allows him to telecommute. We did this not because we get some sense of superiority out of it, but because we are *complete slackers.* We don't have the drive or organizational skills required to keep up with the demands of a two career family - who stays home when kids are sick, finding child care, paying for child care, etc. We are very very lucky that he makes enough that we can live a middle class lifestyle, albeit without many frills.

We (just barely) keep up with all of our appointments, etc. by using a shared Google Calendar. If it doesn't go on the calendar, there's a 90% chance that it will be forgotten.

Posted by: Takoma Park Slacker | February 20, 2007 8:43 AM

Good morning!

Your comments are excellent, and raise a bunch of key questions. Here are a few more details:

1. To foamgnome and others asking about our benefits and daycare situation: We work for large companies that do offer prorated benefits to employees at 30 hours per week. We pay a slightly higher rate for daycare than if we signed up for 5 days per week, but all the area daycares and preschools have minimums around 2 days per week so it wasn't hard to find one that worked for us. Our daughter is in preschool close to our house, and our son is in a family daycare (we found family daycares to be a bit more flexible than daycare centers or nannies in terms of hours).

2. To Leslie: We have, luckily, not gotten much backlash from family or friends regarding our arrangement. We have friends who practice all different parenting models, and we receive great tips from them as much as they may receive from us.

3. To Anon at 8:01: Marc does not have a strained relationship with his father, although we have also read that this is what spurs men on to be different with their own kids. Marc is one of 6 children raised in a traditional family model. His dad was an involved father when he wasn't at work, and valued family time over money. If anything, this value was instilled in Marc so that he could reject the standard money-buys-happiness path.

4. To Armchair Mom: Great example of equal sharing from your neighbors! Communication is one of the challenges of this lifestyle, and we debrief each other frequently - at least weekly - on the family's schedule. We spend energy keeping up on the big issues - discipline strategies, triggers for temper tantrums, activities that worked well, etc - so that we can learn from each other every day. We find that we cannot communicate 100% of all the little details, but ultimately have to trust each other to get through the day with the kids his/her own way.

Keep the comments coming!

Posted by: Marc and Amy (aka equal and equal_too) | February 20, 2007 8:43 AM

Most excellent. This seems similar to the situation many shift workers find themselves in. With no guiding philosophy or intention to go it equally, they still end up going 50/50 at least on the time spent with the children, saving on daycare expenses as a result. Our arrangement is mroe reactive that proactive - I won't do playdates or birthdays, he can't be bothered with laundry - but it works out to be fairly equal.

Posted by: Olney | February 20, 2007 8:46 AM

Most excellent. This seems similar to the situation many shift workers find themselves in. With no guiding philosophy or intention to go it equally, they still end up going 50/50 at least on the time spent with the children, saving on daycare expenses as a result. Our arrangement is more reactive than proactive - I won't do playdates or birthdays, he can't be bothered with laundry - but it works out to be fairly equal.

Posted by: Olney | February 20, 2007 8:48 AM

Just a comment to those asking about benefits, my company requires you to work a minimum 30 hours to receive full benefits. You don't have to work a full 40 hours but they don't really broadcast this fact, you have to check the employee handbook. I suspect other companies may also have similar policies.

My husband and I are striving for equal parenting. I work 3 days a week at home and he works part time at home as a freelance graphic designer. We have a babysitter come in two mornings a week so he can work. Eventually, I'd like to cut my hours and he could increase his hours. We share most of the chores but he does the majority of the cooking.

Posted by: trying | February 20, 2007 8:50 AM

Very good blog today. The equal parenting model sounds like an ideal one. My question is how will it work once the children are actually in school? One can easily say it would work the same way, but with the children out of the home for longer periods, will one of you be tempted to increase your hours? And does your choice of work hours still allow you to live in an area with good schools?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 20, 2007 9:12 AM

I think health care is the biggest obstacle to two parents working part time. Even if leave is earned at a prorated amount, you need full health care for the family. The government requires 32 hours a week to get full benefits. It is nice that some companies allow 30 hours a week. But if your employer requires 40 then your stuck. I do have a friend that is married to a school psychologist. I think he is technically considered full time but it is more like seasonal work. He is off at 3:30 every day, all school breaks and summer. My friend works 6 hours a day 5 days a week for a total of 30 hours. They have only one child and do not plan to have another. But one of the things they did to cut back on costs was to have a boarder for a number of years. I think the boarder has finally left but by renting out part of their house, they were able to both work reduced hours and enjoy maximum time with their daughter. When she was very young, she was in day care at least 30 hours a week. But now, that she attends school, she doesn't need any care at all. I always wondered if a school psychologist make salaries in line with teachers or are they better paid. A lot of people would love a teacher's hours but teaching is tough and the pay is low.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 9:14 AM

This blog is so lame.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 9:32 AM

Takoma Park Slacker -- Can you tell more about what a shared Google Calendar is? Sounds like a great tool for families.

Posted by: Leslie | February 20, 2007 9:37 AM

"The government requires 32 hours a week to get full benefits"

The Federal Government does not require 32 hours a week to get Federal Employees Health benefits.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 9:43 AM

spurred by theoriginalmomoftwo who wrote "does your choice of work hours still allow you to live in an area with good schools?", I wonder if the idea of "good schools" is misplaced. I live in DC and I'm sure overall the public schools are considered bad, but at my neighborhood school my child is getting a fine education. And in any case, the defeatest attitude that things will never get better in urban schools and that suburban schools are necessarily better is so odd to me. Why can't urban schools be not only on par with suburban schools, but even exceed the performance?

Anyway, i think today's blog is great and gives me a lot to think about-- my husband needs to continue with full time work, but I wonder if I could ask for half-time-- at least for awhile to see how it goes. I'd love to have more personal time to myself! Our health benefits come through my husbands work, so that isn't anything to worry about.

Posted by: Katy | February 20, 2007 9:43 AM


I also enjoyed the guest blog; it sounds like a great balance, a life that's actually structured to achieve the goals you prioritize. Partly it works because you've chosen high-demand, high-contact technical service jobs where there will always be time slots that need coverage, that you can plug in to . . . Which is nice because it sounds like at least one of you has a job that turns off when you leave work . . .

So many people mention benefits . . . Isn't health care the main benefit that is all-or-nothing, and horribly expensive? It seems to me that everything else (401k/403b, life insurance, ??) scales directly with salary, so that allowing part-time work has minimal other threshold cost. I have the growing impression that if we could just nationalize health insurance coverage (even if we required some level of employment/work credit to qualify, like social security; even if it were funded comparably by a salary-proportionate employment tax), we could really unlock many of the structural constraints that limit families' work-life choices. I've heard of so many people frozen into full-time work schedules, or employers they'd rather leave for better-fitting ones, by the need to hang on to their current health insurance. And healthcare cost is drowning employers, too, even the larger ones have begun to flail and cut back . . . . It seems like we could restore mobility and responsiveness to both employee's and employer's choices by decoupling healthcare from your particular employer.

On part-time care: preschools provide some part-time care, if you're flexible enough to shift your needs to their schedule, and to cover sick/off days. A shared sitter is really great for part-time care: often a family with their own sitter will want to find a way to supplement their sitter's salary which they're really stretching to pay; or to continue to support fulltime hours as their kids get older and need fewer hours' coverage, due to preschool (with its additional cost); or to add some social companionship for their own kids. Often if you can get into the neighborhood gossip loop and get word around that you're looking to share, or put notices up at your kids' preschool, you can find such situations . . . .I can see where a home daycare may also have that flexibility; if your child uses a slot that can be completed at another time of day, say for an afterschool child.

And once their kids are school-age, all childcare options are part-time anyway, and they may not have any need to cover afterschool hours . . .

Posted by: KB | February 20, 2007 9:43 AM

Happy Mardi Gras!

Posted by: Fred | February 20, 2007 9:46 AM

"And once their kids are school-age, all childcare options are part-time anyway, and they may not have any need to cover afterschool hours ."

You are forgetting school half-days, closed for student teacher days, spring and winter break, holidays, snow days, and summer. Maybe the parents part-time schedules are flexible enough to cover all the non-school times, but I suspect that even parents who work part-time still have childcare concerns once the children are in school. Granted, they may not need as much coverage as full-time working parents, but I don't think it's fair to assume that everything will be smooth sailing once the children are in school.

Posted by: to KB | February 20, 2007 9:51 AM

Very nice blog--it keeps with the theme of "On Balance". While it might not be possible for many, it's a nice thing to think about for those who can swing this. Where I take issue is on the term "Equally Shared Parenting". Both my husband and I work FT jobs and consider ourselves equal in the parenting department. I don't think you need to do something like this to be considered equal partners. Otherwise, it gives us something to think about.

And I agree with Leslie that once you get beyond 2 children, it gets more and more difficult to navigate 2 FT jobs and time with the children. Not necessarily when they are babies or preschoolers, but as they become school age and develop their own interests and needs (sports, music lessons, afterschool activities, whatever). Personally I think 2 children is enough---unless you live on a farm and need the hands :-)

Posted by: working mother | February 20, 2007 10:00 AM

Katy, you make some good points about what makes a good school. I think regardless of where you are -- urban, suburban or rural -- a good school is one that can take the students in that area as they are and still do a good job teaching them. Wouldn't it be great if every DC public school student received the good education your child received?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 20, 2007 10:02 AM

"The government requires 32 hours a week to get full benefits"

The Federal Government does not require 32 hours a week to get Federal Employees Health benefits.

REally because that is what our HR people told me when I went part time. How many hours do the require then?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 10:05 AM

Kudos to Marc & Amy. You are making most of the readers jealous because it seems you have the best of both worlds.

My wife stopped working when our youngest son was born so she could stay at home with him. Made feeding a lot easier - some people are a little prudish about mom's feeding their babies, even when it is done very discretely. She also was watching our granddaughter who was 15 months older than him - our oldest daughter was 24 at the time our son was born.

We took a major hit in the finances but both of us thought it was well worth it.

I was commuting to the DC area so my art of the housework was minimal during the week. Lawn care and car maintenance was something I handled on the weekends.

When our son reached 2.5 years old my wife and I wanted our son to start getting a little exposure to group play time so we found a part time daycare for 2-3 days a week. That worked great for him but my wife was bored with the empty house so she started looking for work again. Two months later and we were both working full-time.

I got fed up with the commute and took a job closer to home - 25% pay cut but getting 4-5 hours a day back in my life was definitely worth it.

Now that he is 13 years old we are both working full time and the housework gets split about 50-50 ... she dusts and polishes and I vacuum. Everybody takes a turn at the dishes. Some of the stereotypes still apply - my son and I take out the trash, mow the yard, work on the cars, but that is fine with us.

Posted by: SoMD | February 20, 2007 10:07 AM

Actually correction, what they told me was you need to work 32 hours in order for them to pay the employers portion of the FEHB. Maybe if you were willing to pay the whole premium there were fewer hours required or no minimum number of hours. But I know that is what they told me at my agency. Can any one in HR speak up about this?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 10:08 AM

Actually correction, what they told me was you need to work 32 hours in order for them to pay the employers portion of the FEHB. Maybe if you were willing to pay the whole premium there were fewer hours required or no minimum number of hours. But I know that is what they told me at my agency. Can any one in HR speak up about this?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 10:11 AM

Personally I think 2 children is enough---unless you live on a farm and need the hands :-)

Posted by: working mother | February 20, 2007 10:00 AM

A smiley face doesn't make snarkery acceptable.

Personally I think no children are enough. For me. Aren't we past this idea that one of us should tell another how many children is "enough"? I don't know anyone with a large family who had child 3 - 5 because they wished for additional workers in the family business.

We've turned the decision to have 2 children into the new urban mandate. those who subscribe to this thinking need to get over yourselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 10:11 AM

You've given us a great story! I hope that you're able to keep it up.

So much depends on your employer. As many have noted, the requirements to qualify for health care vary and with children that's something that a responsible parent needs to strive to maintain.

Do you feel that you are competitive within your field salary and promotion-wise? Or is that not important to you at the moment?

Posted by: RoseG | February 20, 2007 10:13 AM

In regards to coordinating schedules and calendars: Every appointment, kid's activity, parties, etc. goes into Microsoft Outlook. When we enter something in the "computer calendar" the other person is emailed the information, and then accepts the appt. into their Outlook calendar. My husband and I are able to know what the other has planned etc. Since my husband travels a fair amount, he is able to better plan around a school event during the week if possible. This also works well for Tasks...you can email the task to the other person with a deadline, reminder etc. We just don't have that many problems coordinating things since we went to this system....many years ago! And yes, my husband can competently answer the phone and know what is going on in the household.

Posted by: just another mom | February 20, 2007 10:13 AM

foamgnome |

"REally because that is what our HR people told me when I went part time. How many hours do the require then?"

Check with opm.gov

FYI, a lot of HR people are full of baloney, as you have just indicated. I always double-check their advice. The HR office is one of the biggest examples of waste in the Federal government.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 10:13 AM

What an awesome guest blog! Marc and Amy, thanks for sharing your story, it is really an inspiration. I would love for us to have a similar set up, and we are hoping that once my husband's business is up and running, we can do just that - each work around 30 hours or so.

I totally agree with those who say health care is the biggest obstacle to arrangements like this. When I started my current job, we ended up deciding to self insure through an HSA plan in part because I liked the idea of not having my health care be contingent on my job - I am just so tired of dealing with constantly changing plans, having to wait to qualify to get on a plan, etc, and it's nice to know that I can change jobs or cut my hours without worrying about losing our insurance. And as it turned out, because my employer pays so little toward a family plan, the HSA was actually a little cheaper. However, the downside is that with an individual plan they can impose exclusions on preexisting conditions, and also our plan doesn't have maternity coverage so it wouldn't work if were planning on having another baby. But if you're relatively young and healthy, the HSA plans can be an option if you want to self insure.

Posted by: Megan | February 20, 2007 10:17 AM

I work for a company that provides benefits for anyone who works 20 hours or more per week. The only benefit that full time employees get that isn't available to PT employees is sick leave. My husband works FT. He and I share household duties although it isn't entirely equal. I can say that after the kids go to bed, we get the lunches made for the next day, laundry washed & folded, the kitchen cleaned, etc. without either one of us saying a word about what needs to be done. We both just know and can see what has been done and move on to the next task.

My husband can usually answer questions about the kids schedule when people call. We keep a calendar on the wall in the kitchen that has the days of the month down the side and the family member names across the top. This helps us keep track of activities, parties, school closings, etc. Without it, neither of us would know who was doing what.

We have three children 5 & younger and for now, this works for us. As our kids get older, I may work more hours but I may not. It's hard to predict what the future will bring.

Posted by: MOM2LED | February 20, 2007 10:17 AM

Seriously, is it a big deal to work 32 hours a week vs. 30?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 10:17 AM

OK, this came from the site. You get partial employer portion if you work less then 32 hours a week.:

If you became a part-time career employee (working 16 to 32 hours a week or 32 to 64 hours biweekly) on or after April 8, 1979, you are entitled to a partial Government contribution in proportion to the number of hours you are scheduled to work in a pay period.

Employees who served on a part-time basis before April 8, 1979, and who have continued to serve on a part-time basis without a break in service (in that or any other position) are eligible for the full Government contribution, as are part-time employees who work less than 16 hours or more than 32 hours per week.

The amount of the Government contribution is determined by dividing the number of hours you are scheduled to work during the pay period by the number of hours worked by a full-time employee serving in the same or comparable position (normally 80 hours per biweekly pay period). That percentage is then applied to the Government contribution made for full-time employees enrolled in that plan.

The amount of the Government contribution is then deducted from the total premium (Government plus employee shares), and the remaining amount is withheld from your pay.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 10:19 AM

I think every DC public school student would receive a good education if more parents became actively involved with their local school-- even BEFORE their child is school aged. Walk in, check it out, look at the test scores, if you see problems, raise hell to get it corrected. That's what we did and it worked.

I have a friend of a friend who rather than ask/ demand changes in her neighborhood school, moved out to Fairfax so that her child could go to "the best" school in the area. She never even stepped foot in the school-- she saw the demographics and said "no way my child will be the only white child in that school." Now she is has a super long commute, can't afford to buy a home and must rent an apartment instead (because again, she has to be in "the" best area) and she thinks I am an irresponsible person for staying in the city where I have a 5 minute commute and can afford a small, comfortable home and my child is, yes, a racial minority in his school, but seems to be just fine with it.

I want to ask these parents who flee, instead of running from a problem, why not work to fix it? Genuinely curious, I'm trying hard not to be judgmental--- though probably not succeeding.

Posted by: Katy | February 20, 2007 10:22 AM

Leslie, www.google.com/calendar is what we use. We can both access it, and we can set up seperate calendars, viewable to both of us, for family events, my appointments, his work schedule, etc. And it's free.

We used to use Outlook, but I switched to a Mac and don't want to pay $300 for Microsoft Office.

Posted by: Takoma Park Slacker | February 20, 2007 10:23 AM


to to KB,

Oh believe me, I'm not forgetting school closures --- just yesterday I had my own two schoolgirls in my office all morning. They were amazingly good (I've never had to have them both at the office together before; this is the first semester DH and I have such conflicting schedules that we can't just keep one of us home for emergency kidcare. Anyway, they read books the whole time, even during office hours ("you know, that was very confusing, Mom. What do those diagrams mean?") and when I had to leave them to go lecture. My 7yo had gotten new books for her birthday and my oldest read 2 of them to her, then moved on to her own reading (_Eldest_, finished it!) while the youngest read 1 more fairy book on her own . . . easier than I would ever have hoped for, I'd packed mountains of entertainment materials for them . . .)

Anyway, I don't forget it. And being in full-time aftercare can offer some *limited* access to coverage for those times. Though I've found that, being in an urban/highly populated area, usually spring break camps and summer camps spring up to cover most of the longer openings (though they might be harder to afford on part-time salaries). The problem exists for everyone, though, and is likely not much worse for part-time workers, as most everyone is pushed to make extra arrangements beyond their usual norm to cover these days. . . . I was really responding to the idea of part-time childcare being harder/more expensive to find than full-time . . . school gaps hit everyone just about equally hard . . .

KB

to KB wrote:

>You are forgetting school half-days, closed for >student teacher days, spring and winter break, >holidays, snow days, and summer. Maybe the parents >part-time schedules are flexible enough to cover >all the non-school times, but I suspect that even >parents who work part-time still have childcare >concerns once the children are in school.

Posted by: KB | February 20, 2007 10:23 AM

"Personally I think 2 children is enough---unless you live on a farm and need the hands :-)"

What a b!tch! I thought you promised not to post here anymore!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 10:26 AM

"Personally I think 2 children is enough---unless you live on a farm and need the hands :-)"

What a b!tch! I thought you promised not to post here anymore!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 10:26 AM

To Fred, the "Wives gone wild," and anyone else celebrating Mardi Gras or Carnaval today:

*Laissez les bons temps rouler!*

Olney is right that when parents work different shifts, a lot of what the Vachons describe occurs naturally, out of necessity. My parents were in such a situation for a while when I was young, and it worked out well for us.

Back long before the email era -- how did we EVER manage without it (LOL!) -- my parents kept one another "up-to-speed" by leaving notes (containing the necessary household news and information) tucked into the refrigerator door, because they knew that was the, well, second place the other would visit upon arriving home. Not to say that there weren't occasional slip-ups, but my father was already a competent house-husband during his share of this time, and the skills he honed then served my parents in good stead decades later after my mom's stroke, when my dad took care of her and the household singlehanded for several years.

One other question for the Vachons: Do you do a lot of planning and organizing of your family life on the weekends, vacation and holidays, or whichever days you're both off work at the same time? How do you split responsibilities on those days?

Posted by: catlady | February 20, 2007 10:28 AM

"Personally I think 2 children is enough---unless you live on a farm and need the hands :-)"

I thought it was a joke. Did you see the smiley at the end? Lighten up people.

Posted by: xyz | February 20, 2007 10:29 AM

Save your number of kids comments for next Tuesday. My guest blog is on family size and balance. I thought it was a joke too.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 10:41 AM

I think one huge reason why Amy and Marc have been able to make this arrangement work so well is that they started discussing it years before they had kids -- even before they got married. This way of life was important enough to them to work toward it from the beginning of their relationship -- not just when they decided to have kids.

So, perhaps they didn't have to do as much shifting of priorities, responsibilities, etc., when they were ready to start a family as many other couples would upon reaching such a decision.

Kudos to these folks for planning in advance the really important stuff in their lives.

Posted by: pittypat | February 20, 2007 10:43 AM

I think one huge reason why Amy and Marc have been able to make this arrangement work so well is that they started discussing it years before they had kids -- even before they got married. This way of life was important enough to them to work toward it from the beginning of their relationship -- not just when they decided to have kids.

So, perhaps they didn't have to do as much shifting of priorities, responsibilities, etc., when they were ready to start a family as many other couples would upon reaching such a decision.

Kudos to these folks for planning in advance the really important stuff in their lives.

Posted by: pittypat | February 20, 2007 10:47 AM

Save your number of kids comments for next Tuesday. My guest blog is on family size and balance. I thought it was a joke too.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 10:48 AM

What amazes me is that this concept needs a special name. I guess my husband and I are more unique than I had thought. An option other than total equality in all aspects of marriage has never occurred to us. We are both PhD engineers and routinely make sacrifices for the other either for work or family with the goal of a common level of happiness. I guess I was mostly saddened by this day's blog since it indicates that such attitudes are rare or considered hard to acquire.

Posted by: Carrie | February 20, 2007 10:50 AM

I think one huge reason why Amy and Marc have been able to make this arrangement work so well is that they started discussing it years before they had kids -- even before they got married. This way of life was important enough to them to work toward it from the beginning of their relationship -- not just when they decided to have kids.

So, perhaps they didn't have to do as much shifting of priorities, responsibilities, etc., when they were ready to start a family as many other couples would upon reaching such a decision.

Kudos to these folks for planning in advance the really important stuff in their lives.

Posted by: pittypat | February 20, 2007 10:50 AM

Nice, on topic blog today. The only thing I would suggest is using a different term and usernames: perhaps "same" instead of "equal". There are plenty of equal marriages where the partners have traditional roles or reversed traditional roles. Disclaimer or not, your way is not the only equal way.

Posted by: equal but different | February 20, 2007 10:55 AM

To Katy - in an ideal world, you're right - if everyone worked for change, DC schools would stand a far better chance of improving. However, I think many people (including myself) believe the DC public schools are in such poor condition (both the physical plants and the educational programs) that any solution would necessarily take years, and in the interim, they're not willing to settle for a sub-par education for their children when some of the nation's best public schools are so close by. At some point, your chief responsibility is to your children and family, and you have to do what's best for them.

In addition, I don't believe that most of the parents who move to the 'burbs do so because of some covert (or overt) racism. I think it's mostly because of inferior programs and opportunities in DC public schools. In my case, I'd be thrilled to stay in the District for the the foreseeable future. The ONLY reason we would ever move to the suburbs is for the schools - and that day is coming soon.

Posted by: DC Schools | February 20, 2007 10:55 AM

Katy,

You must be a Ross ES parent. I've never been around such involved militant parents in my life as to encounter a Ross parent! (joking- don't be offended)

Posted by: to Katy | February 20, 2007 11:00 AM

Thanks Takoma Park Slacker for the Google info.

For some people two kids is enough. For others 10 kids is not enough. When I had two kids I really felt someone was missing. Now with three I still feel that way but I am pretty sure either I or my husband will go completely insane if we have another kid. We are close enough to the edge as it is.

Marc and/or Amy -- do you think you will go back to more intense work (in terms of hours and responsibility) once your kids are much older?

And agree that it was very wise to talk all this through BEFORE you got married. But most people don't, especially if they are fairly young and/or fairly idealistic. Would be good to have a list of questions for couples to talk about before getting married. Not the standard "do you want kids?" but "how many, who would stay home on sick days, etc" which seems terribly unromantic but is very smart.

Posted by: Leslie | February 20, 2007 11:01 AM

Based on Mark's decision to back-off of his career even before he met Amy, it's a fair assumption that he didn't have any MBA debt. It must be nice for mommy and daddy yuppy to provide a free MBA degree to a son who has so little ambition he is not even responsible enough to work to save for retirement or build a nest-egg BEFORE he met Amy. "He shared his vision of equal sharing." His vision was, I'm lazy but I can still snare a cute feminist if I tell her that I want to be home for our kids and will do my share of the housework. I am glad they found each other.

Posted by: OR dad | February 20, 2007 11:03 AM

Katy,

You MUST be a Ross parent.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:04 AM

My husband and I are blessed with our situation. I'm off two months in the summer, while DD is out of school. It is without pay, but more than worth it on so many levels. He is a minister and has a flexible schedule during the school year. We tag team school holidays/sick days. This is one reason why we have only one child and will not have more. Juggling everything is tricky and the more kids you have the more stressful it is.

Posted by: only one | February 20, 2007 11:06 AM

Katy,

You MUST be a Ross parent.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:15 AM

Awesome column! Kudos to you for creating the reality you want, and double kudos for your compassionate way of expressing it. One thing come away with in reading about your lifestyle is that you are industrious folks, and that will set a great example for your kids not only of sharing and balancing and being selfish at times, but also just going after what you want in the full knowledge that you create and pursue your choices free from any sense of victimization. A great example for us all.

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | February 20, 2007 11:18 AM

"I thought it was a joke. Did you see the smiley at the end? Lighten up people."

So it's okay to be totally offensive if I just put a smiley face at the end?

ALL N-WORDS DIE! :)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:18 AM

"Based on Mark's decision to back-off of his career even before he met Amy, it's a fair assumption that he didn't have any MBA debt. It must be nice for mommy and daddy yuppy to provide a free MBA degree to a son who has so little ambition he is not even responsible enough to work to save for retirement or build a nest-egg BEFORE he met Amy. "He shared his vision of equal sharing." His vision was, I'm lazy but I can still snare a cute feminist if I tell her that I want to be home for our kids and will do my share of the housework. I am glad they found each other."

Envy is the worst of the deadly sins....

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:19 AM

PLEASE FIX THE TECHNOLOGY!! Both this blog and the On Parenting blog have been unavailable for extended periods of time all morning.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:20 AM

What is a Ross parent?

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 11:20 AM

Best guest blog EVER!

Posted by: Liz D | February 20, 2007 11:21 AM

To OR Dad:

Nice try. I paid my way through state college working mostly full time. I continued to work at a professional job for 7 years paying off my school debt while I went back for my MBA, which I also paid for! My nest egg grew fairly fast once I totally got out of debt. When Amy and I married we were within 10% of each other's net worth.

Both Amy and I came from lower middle-class backgrounds and both of us put ourselves through school (in case you were planning to attack her next).

Posted by: Marc | February 20, 2007 11:22 AM

Best guest blog EVER!

Posted by: Liz D | February 20, 2007 11:22 AM

to anon at 11:19, what about Sloth?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:25 AM

OR dad,

Since Mark is a technical person, there's a good chance that his employer funded his MBA. Or that he obtained it in an inexpensive continuing CSS ( ;-) ) program. Or that he worked and budgeted to pay off his debt while young and unencumbered, to preserve his choices in the future. Being free of debilitating educational debt doesn't necessarily mean you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth . . .

DH and I were both lucky to come through undergrad and grad school on full merit-based scholarships/ fellowships, emerging debt-free. Before I started reading this blog I had no idea what a gift that was (the debt-free aspect; I *always* appreciated how the scholarships/fellowships enabled us to attend our chosen institutions in the first place).

OR dad wrote,

>Based on Mark's decision to back-off of his career >even before he met Amy, it's a fair assumption that >he didn't have any MBA debt. It must be nice for >mommy and daddy yuppy to provide a free MBA degree >to a son

Posted by: KB | February 20, 2007 11:27 AM

I think educational debt or debt in general is worthy of factoring into most of these discussions on balance. The less debt or debt free opens an array of different choices. DH and I had small student loans (18K for me -including grad school & 12 K for DH). We worked very hard to pay off debt, while simulatenously saving for retirement and a down payment on a house. They were pretty frugal years. But we find it opens a huge amount of possibilities now in our mid 30s. Who knew what our life would have been like if we graduated from school totally debt free. We were just grateful to have modest loans. But it gives us the discipline to save rigorously for DDs education. We do scale back our life a lot to provide savings and quality day care. DD wears sale clothing from JcPennys verus those expensive brands. We all make sacrifies but it works. DH got his MBA paid for through his employer.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 11:34 AM

"to anon at 11:19, what about Sloth?"

That guy from the goonies? An enjoyable character to be sure, but not sure how that is relevant to today's discussion.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:36 AM

Off-topic alert:

Why is it that every time someone disagrees or comments in a less than positive way about the choices, values or character of someone on this blog that someone else entirely dismisses the point in dispute and denigrates the disagreeing or comment poster as jealous or envious? What is up with that?

Envy/jealousy (is there a difference?) is the desire for the traits, status, abilities, situation, or stuff of another. In the majority of instances, the negatively commenting poster hasn't the slightest desire to trade places with the original poster.

Is this some sort of response learned in high school? "Susie's an empty-headed snob" "You're just jealous". "No, I've never wanted to be an empty-headed snob and wouldn't want to be Susie for a nano-second. I'm calling 'ems as I see 'em."

I've got no dog in the fight above, and disagree with OR dad, but this seems to come up over and over and I don't get it.

p.s. since when are the seven deadly sins ranked? do you think God is more saddened by the commission of one than another? really?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 11:37 AM

"Save your number of kids comments for next Tuesday. My guest blog is on family size and balance"

What a shame it is next Tuesday, Fredia and I will be traveling to see #3 (AF Daughter) off to the UAE. I will not be able to comment, maybe.

I am sure that some people are glad of that! :)

Posted by: Fred | February 20, 2007 11:38 AM

Hey, it's us again with responses to some of the questions you've raised:

1. To cmac: The temptation of promotion is strongest in Marc's job, where he has been encouraged to take on management positions. Thus far, he has said 'no' because he knows that a 'yes' would mean compromising the life he loves. For Amy, there is much less of a career ladder in the niche of pharmacy practice where she works. So, no one really gets promoted; this suits her fine right now.
2. To Anon at 8:21: One of our 'secrets' to successful negotiation with both our employers is that we had both worked at our jobs for 7 years before we had kids. So, when it came time to ask for reduced hours, our employers knew what kind of workers we were and were willing to think 'outside the box' for us. We also made sure to outline the benefits of our reduced hours to our bosses, not just petition for what we wanted for ourselves. Some benefits for employers include increased loyalty, and less salary and benefits to pay out.
3. To theoriginalmomof2: We are excited to find out how our arrangement works when our kids get to school-age. Our eldest is going to Kindergarten in the Fall, and we're busy figuring out whether we want to ask for tweaks in our schedules to accommodate her new hours. We live in a middle-class Boston suburb with average schools, based on standardized test results. We heavily researched the schools here before deciding to stay, and feel good about their elementary school.
4. To workingmother: Although we do work reduced hours, Equally Shared Parenting is not limited to this arrangement. This is a very important clarification that we realize didn't come across in our blog. Our definition of equal sharing is two parents who share equally in four areas: breadwinning, childraising, housework, and recreation time. And this sharing is not about making an equivalent amount of money - it is about spending an equivalent amount of time. Two full-time working parents can definitely equally share, although creating that personal balance with time for yourself is just a bit harder if you work full time.
5. To RoseG: Staying competitive in our field is definitely an iffy thing with equal parenting. We have deliberately jumped off the fast-track in our careers, but we've chosen professions that allow that more easily than perhaps others do. We do stay very current in our jobs re: knowledge, but if we did apply for management positions, we might be vying for them with other younger applicants. That's a risk we're okay taking.
6. To catlady: When we're both home, we go with the flow a lot and just try to make things come out even over time. When the kids were infants, we casually decided who was 'on' with each of them and who was free to do other things (housework, check email, go have fun elsewhere) by setting the plan for the day each morning over breakfast. When we are together as a family, we just do what needs to be done.
7. To Leslie: We are starting to think about ramping up! With our first going to Kindergarten soon, it will be 3 short years before they will both be in school 5 days a week. We envision at least shifting our schedules a bit so that we're home for them after school most days (with after-school programs other days), but there will be time freed up that can be turned toward work then. We'll see!

To everyone - again, great questions and lots of great ideas and stories out there. We don't intend to portray ourselves as anything near perfect (that's for you, Fo4), but we think we have a great example to share on this blog (which is all about balance, after all). We hope you'll also check out our website: equallysharedparenting.com for a lot more details.

Posted by: Amy and Marc | February 20, 2007 11:39 AM

Ross is an elementary school in the Dupont Circle neighborhood in DC. Notorious for its very involved parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:41 AM

My husband and I have a somewhat similar arrangement. We have consciously chosen the path of less prestige in our field (law) in favor of a life that allows one of us to pick up the kids up at 4:30 every day and be home together for dinner every night.

I love the Google or MS Word calendar idea and want to incorporate that. But I also want to offer something we just started that's helped a lot for our whole family. I bought a little whiteboard for the kitchen and every week we all write down the things we need to remember that week. Our kids use it the most: "Monday: bring shorts for basketball," "Weds: get pet food," etc, and it's given them great ownership over being responsible for themselves. Also, it's way easier to read than our wall calendar and we all seem to refer to it all the time. I wish I'd done it sooner.

Posted by: 2 cents | February 20, 2007 11:44 AM

Marc: re: paying for college

There have many discussions on this board about paying for college for your children. Given that you had to pay your way through school, do you plan on financially contributing to your children's college?

From my limited experience - the people I know that paid their way through college and advanced degrees usually have a certain work ethic that allows them to tell their children they may have to work their way through school.

Posted by: CMAC | February 20, 2007 11:45 AM

"p.s. since when are the seven deadly sins ranked? do you think God is more saddened by the commission of one than another? really?"

God recently issued a statement on that. Think I read it in the onion :)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 11:51 AM


Fred, Safe travels next Tuesday to you and Fredia. On a lighter note, we seem able to comment on these blogs for days after they cease being current, so comment away on Wednesday, LOL.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 11:56 AM

One of the things I appreciate about Marc and Amy's blog, and what I personally am taking away from it, is their commitment to doing what works best for their family at that moment. They seem to be flexible and highly aware of the sacrifices and rewards that arise from their choices. I think my husband and I are "equal" in our parenting (at this point to only one child, which admittedly makes life easier), despite both of us working full-time. Both of us have also made certain sacrifices - both professionally and personally - to achieve the best balance we can at this particular moment. If we have more children and as our children grow older, we may choose a different path. One of the reasons I enjoyed this blog so much is because it highlights one possible path (the "third path") that a family can take and it does so in a non-judgmental manner.

On another note, I second the comments re: debt. In my field (law), debt plays a HUGE role in people's career choices. It really amazes me how many people enter grad school without a clear vision of what they want out of their careers/future and accumulate $100k plus debt!!

Posted by: londonmom | February 20, 2007 12:02 PM

WOW, here's a couple that have figured out that the best they can give their children is both parents, what a tradgedy the children in this country loose a parent at the time of divorce, thanks you freaks from NOW.

Posted by: mcewen | February 20, 2007 12:03 PM

WOW, here's a couple that have figured out that the best they can give their children is both parents, what a tradgedy the children in this country loose a parent at the time of divorce, thanks you freaks from NOW.

Posted by: mcewen | February 20, 2007 12:04 PM

since Childless by Choice has moved to torturing the On Parents blog, I'd hoped that mcewen would as well. Sigh.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 12:08 PM

Pride/hubris is the first ranked deadly sin - think about it


"Why is it that every time someone disagrees or comments in a less than positive way about the choices, values or character of someone on this blog that someone else entirely dismisses the point in dispute and denigrates the disagreeing or comment poster as jealous or envious?"

Also bitter and angry.

Because they are still in a high school frame of mind and this is the best they can come up with.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 12:09 PM

My husband and I practice "equal parenting," and what is funny is that each of us seems to feel the other one does more!

Both of us work full-time (40 hours/week) for the federal government. My husband works the standard Monday to Friday shift, starting at 7:45 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m. I work Sundays instead of Thursdays (so my work week is Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday), starting at 10:15 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m. Our 4-year-old son goes to pre-school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I drop him off in the mornings and my husband picks him up in the evenings. On Thursdays my son spends all day with me, and on Tuesdays he spends all day with my mother, who lives in the area. On Sundays, when I am working (from home!), my husband takes care of our son all day.

This schedule is convenient for childcare arrangements, but it does cut down on family time because the only day my husband and I are both off from work is Saturdays. Because of my long commute and late hours, I also don't get home until 8:15 or so, which is about the time our son is getting ready for bed. We're still trying to fine-tune this system. Maybe we'll get it right about the time our son is ready for five-day-a-week kindergarten ....

In terms of chores, my husband does the laundry, takes out the garbage, and handles outside-related activities like lawnmowing and yard-weeding. He also does the bills, though I double-check and sometimes pitch in. I do most of the cooking, and also handle grocery shopping (need to get the food I'm going to cook!), dishwashing (need to have clean pans and pots to cook!), and cleaning the range and countertops (need to have clean surfaces on which to cook!). I also try to control the clutter that collects on any horizontal surface in the house, ranging from the dining room table to couches, to the floor. My husband prepares dinner for our son on the days he picks him up from pre-school, though this sometimes just involves a run to McDonald's.

Since both my husband and I have very good salaries, we also splurge by having a professional maid service go through the house once a month.

Posted by: Split-Shift Mom | February 20, 2007 12:14 PM

I do not know exactally what time we are leaving Tuesday so I may be able to make some drive by comments early...

Posted by: Fred | February 20, 2007 12:16 PM

"to anon at 11:19, what about Sloth?

Posted by: | February 20, 2007 11:25 AM"


We're all about the sloth. I am at home full-time, and my husband works at home, just so that we don't have to jam errands into nights and weekend.

It's not what we planned for, but our lifestyle has made having two special-needs children that need full-time monitoring and advocacy a little easier.

Posted by: Takoma Park Slacker | February 20, 2007 12:20 PM

"to anon at 11:19, what about Sloth?

Posted by: | February 20, 2007 11:25 AM"


We're all about the sloth. I am at home full-time, and my husband works at home, just so that we don't have to jam errands into nights and weekend.

It's not why we planned it this way, but our lifestyle has made having two special-needs children that need full-time monitoring and advocacy a little easier.

Posted by: Takoma Park Slacker | February 20, 2007 12:21 PM

wow, this is the slowest i have ever seen this blog!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 12:27 PM

In the majority of instances, the negatively commenting poster hasn't the slightest desire to trade places with the original poster.


Really? I though OR Dad's comment smacked of bitterness that some people get a leg up in paying for their educations and he didn't. He assumes that nobody could be as successful as Marc unless they had some advantage that OR Dad did not, which generally implies a desire to have had that same advantage. I agree that attacking the attacker is useless and often childless, but I disagree that people like ORDad don't reek of jealously.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 12:32 PM

useless and often childless

sorry, meant useless and often childISH. duh.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 12:33 PM

NC lawyer and 12:09,

But it seems to me that Oregon dad's

"it's a fair assumption that he didn't have any MBA debt. It must be nice for mommy and daddy yuppy to provide a free MBA degree to a son"

is pretty nakedly envious, making assumptions about how easy and privileged Marc's life is and assuming a denigrating, dismissive tone in response. . . I don't know how to read 'it must be nice to have it so easy' as anything but envious or dismissive (?) It does sure seem to come up a lot here though, in lots of the reflexive anti-elitist, class warfare type posts (you know, the ones that say, shut up, your issues are so trivial that only a privileged white woman could worry about them, let's talk about my issues instead). I do agree that Cream of the Crop was so flagrant that she incited a lot of legitimate back-reaction against overbearing hyper-exclusive elitism, but she's the only case I've seen of so-called elitism/privilege bashing others. Instead I see a regular tide of anti-elitist bashing and bashing of assumed privilege on this blog that I don't really understand . . .

But maybe others read these things through a different lens and I'd really like to 'get it', and not see so much of it as just overt hostility . . . .

Posted by: KB | February 20, 2007 12:33 PM

"since Childless by Choice has moved to torturing the On Parents blog"

Really? That must be interesting to watch...

Posted by: Megan | February 20, 2007 12:38 PM

"It must be nice for mommy and daddy yuppy to provide a free MBA degree to a son"

Higher education for children is pretty much a luxury as any other.

It must be nice to have inherited good health, intelligence and other neato stuff through DNA.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 12:40 PM

If you have two special needs kids to care for and advocate for, the word slacker should not even been used near you.

Congrats on arranging your life so you can help your kids in the best way possible.

Posted by: To: Tacoma Park Slacker | February 20, 2007 12:54 PM

We're all about sloth. . . .It's not what we planned for, but our lifestyle has made having two special-needs children that need full-time monitoring and advocacy a little easier.

Posted by: Takoma Park Slacker | February 20, 2007 12:20 PM


Takoma Park Slacker - I cannot imagine that, with two special needs children, you either qualify as slackers or slothful. My hat's off to you and your husband.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 12:55 PM

Megan,

It's the same train wreck, with some new recipients who haven't figured out her drill yet. I could perhaps fathom her posting here assuming she had some legitimate interest in "balance", but hanging out on parenting websites only to talk about spawn? Strikes me as pitiful.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 1:01 PM

pittypat, BF and I discuss these sorts of things all the time, and we are a VERY long way away from engaged/married/kids. I guess it will pay off in the end, but our friends think we're crazy. "You've only been together a year, and you're already talking about dividing the housework?"

Off-topic: re babies in meetings from last week...in general, I could not be more against it in a professional setting. But in our lab, which is very casual, a colleague who is extremely well established in the field (runs two labs, multiple publications, has been on the cover of National Geographic) brought her sick toddler to our meeting last week. He's always been a good kid, but he was absolutely silent the whole time, and it was charming to see him smile when his mom would whisper things like "hemichordates" and "primordial neural crest" in his ear.

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 1:06 PM

Who are these nasty anonymous posters anyway. And "xyz" you're right. I was kidding. This 1 or 2 nasty anonymous posters don't even have the guts to post under their "names". And FYI--people are entitled to their opinions without being personally attacked and called names and I think you have me confused with someone else. I never promised to not post here.

Leslie, I think you need to delete those nasty comments. I think the B word should qualify as an attack.

Posted by: working mother | February 20, 2007 1:09 PM

This is an example of two parents (adults) communicating and putting the welfare of their children and family and marriage above everything.

They are fortunate to have the financial circumstances and employment circumstances to do such task.

My ex and I also had arrangements whereas the kids never went to babysitting (except the first two years of my oldest sons live). However, both of us completed our college degrees during this time.. so that stress was added.

Anyhow, my anal expectation when my ex was home with the kids.. was to be.. with the kids.. and doing family stuff. Computer time and other things seem to override. I couldn't understand that, but.. as I indicated, I guess I was too anal.

People who do put their family and spouses first (mutually) will have happy households and produce happier children. Good for you for setting the example and may others follow! But please recognize that not many people have the same circumstances to allow such family bonding. This couple is INDEED blessed!

Posted by: C.W. | February 20, 2007 1:19 PM

"For some people two kids is enough. For others 10 kids is not enough. When I had two kids I really felt someone was missing. Now with three I still feel that way but I am pretty sure either I or my husband will go completely insane if we have another kid. We are close enough to the edge as it is."

Leslie, I read this to Fredia and we both laughed a very knowing laugh.

As the saying goes,

"Insanity is heredity, you get it from your children."

Posted by: Fred | February 20, 2007 1:19 PM

To CMAC:

The discussion of whether or not to pay for our children's education rages on in our household as well. We believe that education costs are a greater percentage of family income than when we were in college (no stats just our belief). We expect to contribute something to their educations.

We like the "pay half" concept to encourage our kids to own their choices for education. If they decide an ivy league education is worth the money they will have to figure out a plan to achieve this. If they decide a state school or trade school is more cost effective and in line with their passions then they can choose this as well.

We are very aware of the financial ramifications of working less than full-time during these early years. We would like to believe that spending more time with us is more valuable to them than spending more time being taught by teacher's assistants at a prestigious school 15 years from now.

Posted by: Marc | February 20, 2007 1:23 PM

Megan/NC Lawyer -- I had to go see CBC's posts over at On Parenting -- I definitely agree with NC Lawyer -- why she bothers is beyond me.

NC Lawyer -- we've gone from what's wrong with Duke to Duke is BACK! Well duh they never really left. Now if only we could do something about ranking... :-)

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | February 20, 2007 1:23 PM

Nope, not a Ross parent. Ross is pretty racially diverse I think.

i still think that if people got involved with their community schools early on, it would make a tremendous difference. And if you start when the kid is an infant, that gives you years to makes the school better. If education is important to you, you can make it happen and you can bet that there are other parents in your neighborhood that will join you in your efforts to make things better.

Posted by: Katy | February 20, 2007 1:25 PM

I'm fascinated to learn that mcewen believes that women having basic human rights and equal workplace opportunities causes divorce. As a child of divorce, I can definitely say that NOW had nothing to do with it, since part of the reason my parents split was that my mom had entered into another relationship in which she was dependent on a man. Yikes!

Marc and Amy, great post. I am very interested in how the day-to-day tasks break down in your household. Do you choose according to your likes/dislikes, or is it just it's Tuesday, this has to get done? Do your children go to daycare and get picked up at the same time each day, or does it vary with your schedules?

My husband and I recently switched from both having full-time jobs with very long commutes to one full-time job and me freelancing part-time from home, but mostly taking care of our daughter. Still trying to work out how I carve out enough time to work without having a babysitter eat all the money I earn. We often talk about how part-time professional work is the holy grail--he would love to have more time with our daughter.

Posted by: restonmom | February 20, 2007 1:35 PM

Off-topic alert:

Product of a Working Mother: I am most glad to see all the fans in royal blue stepping away from the many window ledges on which they were most recently perched. The poor and innaccurate ranking will trip up all the non-ACC fans when they fill out their brackets. Better for us!

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 1:37 PM

From the time we were kids in the heyday of affirmative action my parents told me and my three sisters that they would not be able to pay for our college educations. Three of us received full scholarships to undergrad. I received a State Department fellowship to pay for my grad school.

My husband and I definitely do not plan to pay for our daughter to attend school in the U.S. He is Belgian. Undergrad in Belgium costs a fraction of what it does here. My husband pays fifty percent of his salary in taxes; we have already provided for her college education through this means. We are focusing on retirement savings.

Posted by: Denkpaard | February 20, 2007 1:37 PM

NC Lawyer and Product of a Working Mother, I haven't looked but I can only imagine. As much as she sometimes made me laugh or get angry, mostly she makes me sad. But she sure does know how to stir the pot, I'll always give her that. She is a piece of work.

Posted by: Megan | February 20, 2007 1:37 PM

Amy and Marc have a good situation that they obviously worked hard to attain. They are both highly-credentialed though, which certainly gives them some leverage and bargaining power. A smart company usually tries to keep such people happy, rather than lose the investment in such folks. But Amy and Marc could be both working full-time and "climbing the ladder" at work, which we all know takes lots of extra hours and smoozing time...so they are living more modestly in giving up such activities to spend more time with family. My husband and I have something similar, although he works full-time and I work 20 hours per week. He works full-time but comes home at a reasonable hour every day (usually by 5:00 p.m.) -- doesn't do the normal 60-hours-plus per week that most professionals in our urban/suburban area do. Many of my kids' friends' parents routinely get home after 8:00 p.m. That is definitely a choice -- between more or less money and career success. Like Amy and Marc mentioned about themselves, my husband has given up some career progression and financial gain in order to have a balanced home life. I have definitely done the same in working part-time. We have three kids -- the third one having been a big "surprise." It was definitely easier to do the balancing act with just two kids, but we've managed to work the little guy into our lives just fine -- albeit at more of a financial strain. For all those commenting about the Federal Government -- I work for the Feds, 20 hours per week, and I get prorated benefits. The percentage the government pays into my health insurance matches the percentage of a full-time schedule that I work. My sick and annual leave are prorated but come out the same in the end as if I were working full-time, because if you only work three days a week, you don't need to take off as many days for vacation.

Posted by: Momof3 | February 20, 2007 1:39 PM

50 percent in taxes? Guess what? You paid a fortune for your childs education. Welcome to the wonderful world of european socialism. Thank God I live in the US.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 20, 2007 1:44 PM

Mom of 3 posted: "Many of my kids' friends' parents routinely get home after 8:00 p.m. That is definitely a choice -- between more or less money and career success. "

Momof3 - You may well be correct with respect to some of your neighbors. You know them, and I don't; however, please reconsider this across-the-board judgment.

For IT professionals, the choice is not between more or less money and/or career success. The choice is between having a job and not having one. If my husband works 50 hours and becomes unavailable after 6 p.m., his job goes away. His company needs someone in that position that keeps the trains running 24-7 and if he's unwilling to do so, his position will either by offshored or shifted to another office. Similarly, you may not be aware of which companies are up for sale, or which departments are in line for elimination. We went through one downsizing already, and still haven't recovered financially from the extended period of owning two homes and having one job. (We moved in order to position DH better for other opportunities.)

What may look like super-careerism or misplaced priorities to an outsider, or one unfamiliar with the confidential realities at various employers, may actually be one or more parents trying not to get fired, or to retain their jobs after an acquisition.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 1:50 PM

Mona,

I am so glad you're on again today.

I beg you: PLEASE PICK YOUR LAW SCHOOL WITHOUT ANY REGARD FOR YOUR BOYFRIEND.

For my first Foreign Service post, I requested a post where my then-boyfriend could use his PhD, based on his promise that we would get married.

I got the posting (in Korea). He got a job offer from a school there and then didn't take it. I was crushed. We broke up before I finished language training.

If your relationship is on shaky ground now, it almost certainly won't last. You don't want to regret moving far away from friends and family just for him.

Not that I regret it too much. I ended up meeting the man who would become my husband in Seoul.

Posted by: Denkpaard | February 20, 2007 1:55 PM

Thanks, Denkpaard. The thing I can't really decide is, even if I leave him out of the equation, I still have to decide between a school that's great in my field (west coast) and just good (east coast). It would be easier to go to AU, but not necessarily better for my career. I have less than a month to make a formal decision...what do I do?

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 2:09 PM

PS Denkpaard; is your husband Korean? Are you Asian as well? (I just realized how inappropriate those questions are; feel free to ignore them.) I only ask because BF and I are mixed-race and while my friends don't bat an eyelash, we get stares from strangers. I guess people are accustomed to seeing white men with Asian women, but not the other way around.

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 2:14 PM

Mona:
I'm also glad you're on today - I was too late reading the comments from Friday.
As someone who just finished law school last May, I feel pretty confident in saying that the legal job market is more competitive now than it has ever been. There are an obscene number of people in law school right now, so you need to do everything you can to set yourself up for future employment. This means going to the best school that you can for what you want to do, because it will matter a lot when it comes time to interview. Nothing against AU whatsoever, but if it isn't the best in your field, then you are trading difficulty in moving out west for difficulty in finding a job.
But a word of comfort: law school is not as hard as some people make it out to be. Yes, you will work hard first year, but you cannot (and should not) work all the time. You will have time to work out and go out. I found that people who worked before going back to law school, instead of going straight through, had a much easier time managing their studying.
Hope this is helpful.

Posted by: Charlottesville | February 20, 2007 2:20 PM

Katy, they're going easy on you today! I made comments regarding the abandonment of the DC public schools everal weeks ago, and riled up all kinds of people.

I'm with you: can't complain about something if you haven't tried to fix it. We're staying right here in DC, actively involved with the school, and WHO CARES that our kid will be the only non-hispanic caucasian in his class? (I don't say white, because my husband is middle-eastern, and quite swarthy. I expect this child won't get taken for "white" very often.)

Hats off to you.

Posted by: WDC | February 20, 2007 2:24 PM

Laura/Mona,

I do not understand why you think Santa Clara is so good for your career. Yes, I know the IP program at Santa Clara might be good, but it's a substantially lower ranked school, and you'll be competing for summer jobs with Stanford, et al. 2Ls and the many, many JDs who have California ties. That's not good for your career, even if you graduate first in your class, and not even the most confident, brightest, hardest worker should ever count on coming in first. Are you that convinced of the hiring power of the Santa Clara alumni network?

btw, if you have the time to hang out here with us, you have the time to visit the greedy associates (yeah, I dreaded typing that into this blog, but am willing to take the crap of admitting to the non-lawyers that there's a JD blog focused on compensation) blogs at infirmation.com. Much useful and practical career guidance from smarter people than I.

please forgive the unasked for advice. There's a reason why we all care enough and are willing to be redundant enough to keep saying the same things to you. We are surrounded by colleagues who didn't appreciate the extent of the geography-limiting nature of law hiring, or took on $200K in law school debt, and hate their jobs or can't get a job where they want to live, and are MISERABLE(and you know how I despise all-caps communication). Let's just say that, 10 years after graduation, they do not sound like Amy and Marc.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 2:24 PM

"We are very aware of the financial ramifications of working less than full-time during these early years. We would like to believe that spending more time with us is more valuable to them than spending more time being taught by teacher's assistants at a prestigious school 15 years from now.

Posted by: Marc | February 20, 2007 01:23 PM"

Marc - Agreed. My husband routinely takes his (mandatory) overtime in comp time for the same reason. It would be nice to have the money but what we want is more time with our kids. Today is my daughter's 9th birthday and I keep wondering how that tiny baby we brought home got to be in 3rd grade. These years are going by way too fast.

Posted by: cmac | February 20, 2007 2:26 PM

Does CBC go by another name or were her posts deleted from On Parenting, because I don't see her over there?

Posted by: Lou | February 20, 2007 2:30 PM

Denkpaard, Charlottesville, NC Lawyer, thank you all so much for your help. Trust me; none of this advice is unsolicited! I am confident in SCU's alumni association; one of its bragging points is its networking and close-knit academic community. This is something I do not like since I am used to the small fish in a big pond environment, but I appreciate its importance. It's #4 in the country for IP, and it's true that it's not highly ranked overall, but the alternative is a higher ranked school with a lesser IP department. If I go there, I'll be competing with Stanford grads. If I stay here, I'll be competing with GWU grads...and I get conflicting reports on which is the best decision to make. Overall, I'm guessing (?) that it depends where you want to stay after school, and the answer to that is: I don't know. I could do worse than Silicon Valley, for sure. But is it worth the cross-country move and (oh my god I can't believe I'm opening this can of worms again) dragging my cats on an airplane?

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 2:40 PM

WDC, the tone of your comments was quite different. Katy's was more of the cheerleading variety.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 2:44 PM

Hi Mona - just another thought - have you though about the ramifications if you do go to Santa Clara but at some point realize you don't like IP and want to switch to another field in which Santa Clara is not so highly ranked? (Happened to some of my friends). If you've already thought through this, never mind :)

Posted by: RecentLawgrad | February 20, 2007 2:46 PM

There's no snow or ice in Santa Clara in the winter.

Posted by: To Mona | February 20, 2007 2:50 PM

Mona, No offense taken. Actually, we're a mixed couple too: I'm a black American woman; he's a white Belgian man. It's our daughter who gets the raised eyebrows because she looks like him.

Sorry I can't advise regarding law schools. I was just saying that your choice should truly be your choice and not your boyfriend's. But it sounds like you are dealing with other issues as well. A month is not much time. I wish you a lot of luck. I went to AU for grad school (School of International Service). Is it a top-20 law school?

Posted by: Denkpaard | February 20, 2007 2:53 PM

"This 1 or 2 nasty anonymous posters don't even have the guts to post under their "names". "

Are posters also cowards when they are anonymous because of sexual confessions/content?

Their posts aren't deleted. Shouldn't a blog be consistent in enforcing rules?

And who the heck appointed you as the person to say who has or does not have guts?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 2:58 PM

Their posts aren't deleted. Shouldn't a blog be consistent in enforcing rules?

I just wish that the duplicate entries would be deleted.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 3:02 PM

Answers: yes, I've thought about what to do if I don't like IP law. I've considered copyright law and litigation as well, but I don't think I'd prefer them as much, and I plan to use my legal degree to do pro bono work for non-profit animal rights organizations in what little free time I'll have. It'll mean taking more classes, but it'll be more fulfilling than writing patents all day and whatnot.

It's true that Silicon Valley doesn't get ice or snow. But I kind of like our capricious weather. 70 degrees year-round does not appeal to me, but I could get used to it.

SCU is not a top 20 school, but neither is American. SCU is highly ranked in IP, AU is more highly ranked overall and focuses more on political science than life sciences.

My dream was Stanford, and had I gotten in, I'd be in Silicon Valley in a heartbeat. But my LSAT scores weren't high enough, so I didn't apply. I will consider applying for a transfer after my first year in law school if I do well.

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 3:05 PM

What about the University of California, either Boalt (Berkeley) or Hastings (SF)? Or do you not want to attend a CSS?

Posted by: To Mona | February 20, 2007 3:08 PM

Is your heart set on staying in DC?

Posted by: Denkpaard | February 20, 2007 3:12 PM

I knew better than apply to Berkeley, and I didn't get into Hastings. Hastings doesn't even have an IP department at all, so I'm not really crying about that. Interestingly, while I'd have preferred some of the "CSS"s on my list, state residency is a big deciding factor among public schools. UMD will most likely accept me, but not so for UC.

I went to UMD for undergrad. My heart will forever belong to a CSS. <3

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 3:14 PM

RE: Cost of Education

I am a recent Ivy League graduate and I would like to speak for a moment on cost of education. The Ivy League schools made an agreement a few years back that all admissions processes would be need blind and that each school would provide 100% of demonostrated financial need in the form of government loans and school grants. At the same time they eliminated all academic and sports scholarships. It was actually cheaper for me to attend an Ivy League school than a state school. I ended up with a bunch of Federal Student Loans (totally ~18K) and my parents payed what was left (which they were able to do thanks to a huge grant). Please don't count out the Ivy League because of money. They will make it work for you, and I think my educationw as definitely worth my current debt load.

Posted by: Catherine | February 20, 2007 3:14 PM

I've thought about what to do if I don't like IP law. I've considered copyright law and litigation as well, but I don't think I'd prefer them as much.

Mona - please don't think this is snarky, but, but copyright law is IP law.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 3:17 PM

Denk, nope. I love DC, always will, but I'm flexible as long as A) I'm near a city and B) It's not too hot. I prefer the coasts. WDC and SF bay area are my top two choices, which is probably why SCU and AU are my top two for law school.

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 3:17 PM

I loved today's post. This is what my husband and I do and it works for us. We couldn't be happier.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 3:29 PM

If you graduated from an Ivy League school and think "payed" is how you spell the word paid, I am concerned that the Ivy League's standards are truly terrible. Guess there's some truth to the old saw about an Ivy League education being overrated.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 3:31 PM

Marc and Amy --

It was so nice to read your blog as your marriage and parenting philosophy really match what my husband and I are trying to achieve. I work a traditional schedule (M-F, probably close to 50 hours). I get off early on Fridays so I can pick DD up at school and take her to dancing lessons. I work from home for a couple of hours every morning before everyone's out of bed so that I can take DD to school and arrive "late" to my desk. DH is self-employed and his schedule is different every week. He works a lot of evenings and weekends, but work comes in spurts. So, he's frequently home to pick up DD from school and help with homework. DD averages two afternoons and one morning in her elementary school's before/after care program. DD's challenge is remembering where she's supposed to go after school each day, as it changes literally every week. I laminated tags with her different options and drop one in her backpack every morning so she can check to make sure she's going the right direction (meeting parent at the park across the street, going to after care, going home with a friend, etc.).

Chores are divided pretty equally. DH handles the outside, trash, floors/carpets, pets, and basic maintenance. I handle laundry, bills, shopping, and bathrooms. We share the cooking and subsequent clean-up. We both hate to dust and straighten the clutter, so we share that duty and it probably doesn't get done often enough (lol). DD helps with trash, pets, laundry, dinner prep and clean-up, and of course cleans her own room.

This was not the example I grew up with and I love that DD spends as much or more time with her Dad as she does with her Mom. My dad was largely absent due to work and rarely tried to help with parenting or housework as his efforts never measured up to mom's expectations. The biggest lesson I've learned during our marriage, and especially during the past almost nine years of parenting, is to not be critical of DH's parenting or housekeeping skills. We frequently take different paths to the same destination. Constant communication is the key. We have made a point to call each other every day around lunch time. We spend that time making sure our schedules match for the evening and the next morning.

Thanks again for sharing your experience. I look forward to checking out your blog.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | February 20, 2007 3:35 PM

What a terrific, positive, realistic yet incredibly inspiring story today! Thank you Marc and Amy for sharing!!!

Gosh, WP, their story is so great, how about giving Marc and Amy their own blog?? "On Equality"...I for one would be there daily!

Posted by: college park | February 20, 2007 3:35 PM

To restonmom: You wrote 'I am very interested in how the day-to-day tasks break down in your household. Do you choose according to your likes/dislikes, or is it just it's Tuesday, this has to get done? Do your children go to daycare and get picked up at the same time each day, or does it vary with your schedules?'.

We break things down in three ways, depending on the task:

1. By what needs doing that day. For example, the parent who is home with the kids is responsible for making dinner.

2. Down the middle. For example, Marc does 'darks' and I do 'whites' for laundry. We trade off who does the bedtime routine with our kids - one of us takes our son and the other takes our daughter and then we switch the next night.

3. By interest. For example, Marc enters our finances in Quicken and I do all the research about summer camps, preschools, Kindergarten, etc. Marc does most of the lawnmowing and I do the vacuuming.

4. By who cares the most. This one is a slippery slope, because we have to be careful that one parent doesn't get stuck with chores because he/she has a higher standard. But what I mean here is that if I care about creating a nice photo album of family pictures and Marc would just as soon throw the pictures in a box, I end up creating the photo album myself. For more crucial issues such as keeping the house to a specific level of clean, we talk until we arrive at an agreed-upon standard that we both try to adhere to then.

Our daughter goes to preschool 2 full days a week and one half day (the half day is not necessary, but she loves school and it gives Marc a few hours alone with our son each week). On full days, I do all the pick-ups and drop-offs because Marc starts work at 7:30am and ends at 5:30pm. The half day is one of Marc's days at home, so he does the drop off and pick up. Our son goes to a home daycare two days a week only (the same two days that our daughter is at preschool for full days); I do those drop offs and pick ups for the same reason. Preschool runs 8am to 4pm; the daycare runs 8am to 5pm. They are both close by, which helps get me to work on time.

Posted by: equal | February 20, 2007 3:37 PM

I'm also pleased to see dads as involved as moms on this blog. What a great way to achieve balance. :-)

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 3:41 PM

Lou, CBC was on yesterday the OnParenting blog with a first posting around 9:45, and continuing.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 3:46 PM

Mark and Amy, if you are still reading, I did go to your websight and liked the blurb where your child ran past Amy to get to mark for comfort.

I like the concept of equal parenting, but due to circumstances beyond our control, it doesn't work out. One of the biggest problems is that I don't drive. So for me to get the kids to soccer practice or whatever, it takes me an extra hour of effort. And so goes many more parenting tasks. I score low achievement grades compared with my wife even though I have to put in many times more effort.

I am itching of curiosity though, and I know I'm being rude to ask, but since you are answering questions, here goes:
1. Catholic? Christian?
2. Any more kids to be considered?

I've been reading your posts on this blog since October, and I think it's great that we have a husband and wife team here.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 20, 2007 3:47 PM

Is this a discussion on equal parenting or a perpetual "what should I do about law school, what about my boyfriend (boo hoo)" discussion?

Posted by: Ask Amy | February 20, 2007 3:48 PM

Ask Amy, it's a discussion on how to achieve work-life balance and Mona's choice of law school likely will impact her options to achieve that elusive balance.

Congratulations, you win the snark of the day award, although there will be those who argue that it properly belongs to OR dad.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 20, 2007 3:54 PM

Mona's concerns re her boyfriend and law school ARE legitimate balancing or (future) equal-parenting issues Why? Becuase, as Amy and Marc stated in their blog post today, they talked about these issues while they were dating, before they got married.

Posted by: To Ask Amy | February 20, 2007 3:56 PM

WDC-- after i posted i tried to take it back! Thanks for helping me not regret it. and I don't think I'm just doing it (attending PTa meeting since youngest was 5 months, writing for grants, pushing prinicpal to make changes, Etc.) was all done "out of the goodness of my heart." this is about making my life easier by keeping a shorter commute and a good school will increase our home's property values. Doing right by DC does a whole lot of good for me and my family, so why not? I'm sorry I missed your comments earlier.

Posted by: Katy | February 20, 2007 4:06 PM

Just gotta mention that CBC's posts on the parenting blog didn't get nasty until she was attacked by other posters for asking a perfectly legitimate question.

Yeah, she let it fly after that. But she was clearly trying to be inoffensive in her first couple of posts.

I do think she's right -- that some people have it in for her, and whenever they see her name, they spew.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 4:07 PM

Fo4-
Not trying to be snarky. Just curious, what are you able to help with at home? Maybe you can't drive, but that doesn't mean that you couldn't help with housework or manage the bills or cook dinner or prepare the taxes or do other stuff around the house. Plus, saying that it is just too much effort for you is a cop out -- Don't use your blindness as an excuse to take advantage of your wife. I know a couple of blind people who are perfectly capable parents who take on their fair share of parenting and household tasks. Also, considering that you claim you can't help your wife a lot at home, does it make sense for you all to have more kids and pile her up with even more work? Isn't four kids and enough?

Posted by: Curious | February 20, 2007 4:09 PM

CBC brings it on herself. She is a vile and despicable excuse for a human being, and people understandably and rightly are offended by her very presence. If bloggers could smell, the blogs she frequents would be rife with stink.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 4:13 PM

To Father of 4:

Thanks for checking out our website.

We hope our words stand on their own merit regardless of our religious affiliation. Since this doesn't really belong splayed in the Washington Post without anonymity, please write to us (our emails are on our website) and we'd be happy to answer it personally.

As for more children, we're both in our early 40s and very lucky to have two healthy kids. So, we consider the family complete. Waiting to have children until we were older wasn't totally by choice, but it definitely helped us establish our careers as full-timers beforehand.

Posted by: Amy and Marc | February 20, 2007 4:15 PM

Education has increased at a rate far greater than the inflation rate - so telling your kids to pay for college is entirely different than having paid your way through yourself (this is also true for most state schools).

If you file FAFSA and qualify for aid, the resulting package includes loans that your child will need to pay off, a student contribution that your child will need to work for, and a parental contribution. A child can contribute to the cost (and perhaps value it more accordingly) without footing the entire bill. The Ivy league and other large endowment schools are much better about meeting need - but there is then a large penalty on children of wealthier parents not interested in contributing at all. (These schools, however, do not penalize children whose parents earn less and CAN'T contribute.)

... the tough part comes with the fact that most schools do not have the endowments necessary to fully meet the need gap. Even with parents contributing a reasonable amount the students are frequently still saddled with large loans.


Posted by: more education | February 20, 2007 4:20 PM

The anonymous poster at 4:07 p.m. has it right in the first two paragraphs about Childless by Choice. At least IMHO. Once CBC apparently felt attacked, it was scorched earth time. I thought her question was a legitimate one.

As for whether people have it in for her, I don't know and won't comment on that one.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 20, 2007 4:21 PM

This is a great post - one of the best I've seen on On Balance. So are the comments. :)

As a single person with no children, this topic still interests me. Why? Because some of us wonder why and how a 40-hour week came to be considered "part-time" in many fields. Many, many of us - parents and non-parents alike - want to have a good middle-class job that doesn't require us owing our soul to the company store, so to speak.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | February 20, 2007 4:26 PM

Thanks for the responses to Ask Amy (by the way, I enjoy your WaPo column daily); I couldn't have said it better myself. I'd also like to add that anyone is welcome to change the subject at any time. I can't tell you the number of times I've jumped in on a breastfeeding discussion, and I've never had a child attached to me. I learned a lot from it, too.

As for CBC, I have to admit that I don't find her as heinous as some people here tend to. There are vehement know-it-alls on every side of any debate. I think the difference between her and other childfree/less people is that most of us are here to gain insight for future reference, while she possibly likes a debate more than the rest of us.

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 4:34 PM

since I'm not a lawyer, i really don't know why it matters so much about the school. Are you saying that if you don't go to top ranked school, then you can't get a job as a lawyer? Or is it that the job will be at a less prestigious firm, making less money, or in a less sought after location, etc? I think that there are lawyers across this country, from small towns to large cities. Is everyone who gets a law degree from a "lesser" college bound for the unemployment line?

While I agree that Mona needs to make her decision for herself and not for her boyfriend, isn't part of balance recognizing that you have a personal life?

I'm also a slacker in the sense that I want to enjoy my work and make enough to live on comfortably, but I have no ambition to move up the ladder if it means excessive hours of work. I believe in the 40-hour work week. I have no interest in working more than that except on a rare occasion.

Marc changed positions to make that happen. Keep this in mind when you are looking at your career goals.

Posted by: Not a lawyer | February 20, 2007 4:37 PM

NC Lawyer, I can't imagine you wouldn't know this website already, but if not, check it out. Mona and any other budding JD, it's good for a laugh for you, too.

http://www.anonymouslawfirm.com/

Here's my favorite post:

Paralegal dies in some sort of accident


The Firm mourns the loss of a paralegal, who apparently died last month from some illness or in an accident. He/she was a valuable and loved employee, whose dedication was noticed by all. He/she will be missed. On a brighter note, new paper clips arrived today, and everyone is very excited. The Firm's recent paper clip shortage has impacted everyone's life here, from the partners who use the paper clips to the associates who get the paper clips thrown at them. A party was held to celebrate the new paper clips in conference room 24B. Cake was served. Also, we mourned the loss of our paralegal, who we miss deeply, and wish he or she was still here with us. A fund has been established in his/her name, as soon as we remember it.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 20, 2007 4:47 PM

to Not a lawyer:
Unfortunately, as a lawyer it does matter where you go to law school, to an extent. Law firms come to interview on campus at higher ranked schools, which makes the interviewing process unbelievably easier. It's also a sad-but-true fact that you will need higher grades at a lower ranked school to get the same interview opportunties that you would have at a higher ranked school. Also, higher ranked schools are more nationally recognized, so you are not limited to the region where you attended law school (obviously some people want to stay in that area, so they may want to go to more of a regional school). Of course you don't need to go to a top ranked school to be a lawyer, and I hope I didn't suggest that. But for certain law jobs (big firms and certain government positions) it sure helps a lot to have a top ranked school on your resume. Not fair, I know.

Posted by: Charlottesville | February 20, 2007 4:55 PM

As if there aren't ENOUGH lawyers out there already...

Seems like there really IS a lawyer glut. Anyone going into that prof now ought to think twice.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 5:00 PM

Thanks for a great post, Marc and Amy. My husband and I are also committed to this and we have both worked full-time since we met, and it's because we have to, not necessarily because we choose to. I find the comments interesting because they show how people think about this general approach to parenting, and I just think it's important that people see this as not something that is necessarily tied to having money or privilege. It's tied up more with what you value in parenting and in your relationship with each-other as parents than it is about how much you work each day.

Posted by: wwwmama | February 20, 2007 5:00 PM

There IS a lawyer glut. I'm glad I'm not going into ambulance-chasing!

Posted by: Mona | February 20, 2007 5:12 PM

I take a break from studying for the bar to read up on "balance" for the day, and what do I find but a law-school discussion! I can't seem to get away even for a minute.

But since you're on the topic, I went to a T4 school and had multiple job offers for when I graduated. A T4 that is well-respected in the area may often be as good as a higher-ranked school because local firms know you have ties to the area, they are familiar with the school and the grads it produces, etc. Sometimes very good schools aren't highly ranked due to the super-secret and somewhat odd ranking process.

Back to work -- no balance for me until next week!

Posted by: lawgirl | February 20, 2007 5:49 PM

http://www.anonymouslawfirm.com/

A law firm that has a sense of humor. I wonder how much extra the billable rate is for that?

I did send in my application!

Posted by: Fred | February 20, 2007 6:26 PM

http://www.anonymouslawfirm.com/

A law firm that has a sense of humor. I wonder how much extra the billable rate is for that?

I did send in my application! I wonder if they take people from CSS's?

Posted by: Fred | February 20, 2007 6:27 PM

Dear Fred,

Congratulations, you're hired!

Anonymous Law Firm is pleased to offer a position to Fred Farkel, in our Los Angeles whichever area that I can produce the highest billabe hours department, at a starting salary of $145,000 per year.

You start in ten minutes. Be there, or you're fired.

Sincerely yours,

Anonymous Lawyer
http://www.anonymouslawfirm.com

Posted by: Fred | February 20, 2007 6:30 PM

"Is everyone who gets a law degree from a "lesser" college bound for the unemployment line?"

It does make a big difference what school you go to, and there are a lot of law school grads who don't end up with job offers even from well-ranked schools.

I think lawgirl and others are right on about the regionalism issue. A lower-ranked school in the geographic area you want to practice can be a better choice than a higher-ranked school somewhere else. I assume this doesn't apply for the superstar schools like Yale and Harvard, but if you're talking the lower end of Tier 1, I think it's worth considering, or at least that's my experience and that of a lot of other people at my law school.

Although I also have friends who were able to get fantastic positions out of state; it's really just a matter of what makes it easier or harder.

Posted by: Megan | February 20, 2007 7:02 PM

Mona--
I have refrained from commenting so far in part because I just don't know that much about the market in patent law, BUT I have to add my voice to the chorus here. If you decide you don't want to do IP and don't want to say in CA, Santa Clara just does not strike me as a school that's going to get you very far.
Since you are obviously a very smart woman, how about retaking the LSAT and seeing if you can get in somewhere else?

Posted by: Top law | February 20, 2007 9:02 PM

Top law, perhaps because it's February? she can't get in anywhere better at this point with an August '07 admission.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2007 10:34 AM

Right. I meant for September '08.

Posted by: Top law | February 21, 2007 3:04 PM

I'm a couple days late and I have not read most of the above comments. But I have a question: How much time does this arrangement give you two together, without the kids?

Posted by: boomerette | February 22, 2007 10:27 AM

Marc & Amy - Forgot to ask this in addition to just previous question: How much time are all FOUR of you together, not counting sleeping? NOT criticizing, just asking.

Posted by: boomerette | February 22, 2007 10:51 AM

For Boomerette:

Let's see...we are alone together without the kids every evening after they go to bed (which is by 8pm - we're firm believers in set bedtimes), and we have a monthly date night for which we splurge for a babysitter.

For times we are all four together, that would be each weekend (except for sporadic times when we split up the kids and each take one, or when one of us is with them while the other is off doing something like errands or social events or fun stuff) and then each weekday evening for dinner until they go to bed. Even on Marc's workdays, which are 10 hours, he is home by 6:15 and can join us for dinner.

Hope that all makes sense!

Posted by: Amy | February 22, 2007 4:28 PM

You obviously don't talk to many fathers - we worry about child care all the time - especially single fathers. Many of us restructure our entire lives to be with our children.

Posted by: J | March 5, 2007 9:34 AM

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