Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Slow Family

Heard of the Slow Food movement? It is the crusade to bring back handcrafted, artisanal, heritage foods to our dinner tables, complete with the time required to hunt/gather and prepare these delicacies. It is the opposite of the 80% corn diet we get at McDonald's or other quick-fix aisles in our supermarkets. It is entwined with another powerful movement to eat locally grown and prepared food in order to reduce our use of fossil fuels in its distribution.

Why am I waxing on about Slow Food and locavore habits? Apart from having a soft spot in my heart for both (and a plan to get more involved in each of them), I think that equally shared parenting is often about Slow Families and local living. It is about prioritizing time with our families over the hustle and juggle of fast paced careers and do-it-all success. While articles like this are touting new ways to outsource household tasks, and new tasks to outsource, we're thinking about how we can be more hands-on with our own lives. We don't want so many Christmas lights that we have to hire someone to string them for us! We want to carve out time to make our own bread and hang out at farmer's markets, not shop online for our groceries so that someone else can pick and deliver to us.

Now don't get me wrong. I love conveniences - dry cleaning, housecleaning and take-out are great. When my kids were babies, I wished every store could have a drive-through so I didn't have to get them out of the car. But I don't want to be dependent on these conveniences to make it through my week. And I happen to believe that the more we get our hands dirty and roll up our sleeves caring for our own home, the more we are mentally and emotionally connected to our own lives. Don't we lose something when we give our photos to some stranger and pay her/him to make them into a scrapbook? Don't we gain something if we find the time, energy and skills to paint a bedroom or build a bookshelf ourselves? Some of my fondest memories with Marc (and intimacy-building times) were the endless nights of laying ceramic tiles in our kitchen after the kids had gone to bed. Tough, dirty, mathematically challenging, but very satisfying.

My New Year's wish for you (and me too) is that we all have enough time to not be scared of our own lives. To be comfortable enough, time-wise, to say 'yes' to a homegrown project or an inconvenient family adventure. Not for the sake of superiority (never that), but because it feels good.

p.s. That gift that Marc gave to my mother (from previous post) was a handcrafted necklace. She loved it, I'm happy to report. And on Christmas night, I found another necklace by the same artist tucked under my pillow. Wow - Marc is actually not this romantic normally, so I'm smiling extra wide!


Blogger ED said...

I've heard of the Slow Food movement and think it is neat - but we accomplish similar goals in my family by going car-free. It also reduces environmental impact and increases family time (lots of walks and outings together on foot). It also helped our budget by eliminating car maintenence, car insurance, and gas from our budget, which helped us get out of debt and freed up $300 a month to put into living our values.

However, the down-side is that living car-free is time consuming - like Slow Food. It's hard to do both in Seattle, which has a decent bus system but not a great one. We comprimise by using some of the money we save car-free to buy healthy, quality fast-food that comes in natural wrappers (organic or local fruit), and by buying freeze-dried fruits and veggies that easily turn into cupboard-stored homemade convenience meals.

This is why I love your blog - you went through so many of the same questions and values that my husband and I went through, but found different answers. I think it really demonstrates how rich and varied our society can be when we get past biases (faster is better, women stay home more and men work more) to find real balance in our individual lives. You have similar values (family, the environment, egalitarianism) but struck a different balance.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Amen - I could not have said it better. Car-free is a fantastic way to connect with your local community and increase family time. Even cutting down to 1 car, as we have done, gives us a lot more time together. I admire your car-free bravery!

And I SO agree with the fact that each family can find its own balance point through different answers. Balance is the goal - the prize.

Please keep in touch with us. We love to hear your thoughts.

1:23 PM  

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