Primary Parent or How Jobs Fall In Our House

Primary Parent

My husband thinks, in our household, there’s no such thing as the “primary parent.” (The person the kids automatically shout for when they need something.) I’m convinced that’s a natural thing, and no matter what you try there is always a primary parent.  I do think that the primary parent can change at any point – daily, seasonally, or even from morning to evening.

Of course, I consider myself the “primary parent” most of the time.  Honestly this is just because I am at home the most.  I feel that parenting also encompasses household tasks.  We have pretty defined “pink” and “blue” jobs (please don’t be offended, someone explained them to me this way I thought it was so fitting, if a little stereotypical) in our home.

My “pink” jobs are the laundry, the tidying up (after the kids mostly), and more than half of the meal prep.  His “blue” jobs are putting out the garbage, looking after the cars and the house maintenance, and mowing the lawn.  We both can, and do, perform all these tasks, but typically this is how they fall.

My jobs are a bit more kid-centric while his are less so.  This doesn’t make me a better parent then him – just makes me the one the kids ask for: food items, clothing locating, and any other “where is my…” question.  I’m happy to do those jobs, and to sometimes be able to answer those questions.

His jobs allow the kids to “help” him – clean up the yard, tidy the basement (tools and stuff), and carry the recycling bins.  Still equally able to spend time with the kids doing these things, but it’s a bit less likely the kids will ask to take out the garbage, you know?

Dad, though, is also the one who takes them “shopping” the most.  I don’t go “shopping” unless I have to.  Groceries are enough for me.  Hubby likes going out and happily lets the girls follow him through Canadian Tire or Home Depot looking at whatever they want.  And apparently he enjoys it and doesn’t feel like it’s “work” trying to keep track of the kids in a big store when they just stop without saying anything, or wander down aisles when you’re busily trying to find either what you’re looking for, or someone to help you find what you’re looking for.  That’s not fun for me.  The kids like to hide, and not listen to me.  This does not help me get my jobs done quickly and efficiently.

primary parent

And in my home, when it comes to bedtimes, I’m still the first choice.  That reinforces my feelings of being the primary parent.  Occasionally Rose will ask for Daddy to put her to bed, but mostly the story reading is all me.  I’m secretly sad when the don’t ask for me to put them to bed, but I’m also elated that someone else (Dad or babysitter) can get the job done well in my absence.

I like feeling like the primary parent, but sometimes I just need to hand over the reigns, you know?  I don’t want to do it all (and I don’t.)  When the kids are constantly asking for “MOM!” I almost lose it.  This is why I started taking ballet class once a week. It gives me a break from bedtimes and other “primary parent” duties, and allows hubby a different connection with the girls.


*If you’re a long-time reader of me (and followed me from Blogger) thanks – I appreciate that!  I’m sure you read this post when I originally posted it over there.  Since my time seems to get eaten up quickly these days (I’m in the middle of my acting week while I’m preparing this post.  Check out my Facebook Page to stay on top of my “other” life!) I’m finding inspiration where I can so I don’t fall too behind on my posts!

How do the jobs fall in your house?  Do you feel you suffer from “primary parent” syndrome in your house as well?  I’m always interested to hear your stories, so leave me a comment!


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  1. Well done Jess, another great blog… I am amazed you get anything done with your busy schedule. Keep up the great work on the blog, love reading them.

  2. I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom so the divide is vastly different for us just by the amount of available time we each have with the kids and house.

  3. I’m a single parent so I do everything, but when I was married we had the same pink and blue jobs as yourself and your hubby. How is the ballet going? Still a little jealous of you on that one #MMBC xxx

    1. It seems the job divide often naturally falls that way. I can’t imagine doing the single parenting thing – my hat is off to you! Oh, and the ballet is still going great – I’ve had to miss classes here and there due to a busy life but I still love going! Thanks for asking Lisa. 🙂

  4. Hi Jess, I love this post! It explains so much. My husband always wonders why the children (even though they are no longer children really) turn to me first and now I know why; I’m the primary parent!
    We have ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ jobs too and it suits me just fine. I probably should have taken on something to give me a little space when the children were small, but never did. I secretly loved being part of their bedtime routine, it was the best part of the day.

    Thank you for linking up to the #MMBC.


    1. Now I love bedtimes – there was a time when I dreaded them though! I’m happy that the girls are more flexible now, but they still mainly want me when I’m home. Thanks for the comment Deb.

    1. I find it very interesting how family dynamics change over time. I’d love to be home more (and work on my blog more!) but this is where we’re at now, and it’s mostly working. Thanks for the comment.

    1. Glad to hear we aren’t the only ones! I don’t mind doing the house and children jobs, I just don’t like it when hubs thinks I’m not “doing anything” around the house when really I’m doing laundry and tidy up every single day…
      Thanks for the comment Sarah!

  5. I never thought of it as being a primary parent but there are definitely jobs that my husband and I do more, like taking out the rubbish and cleaning the car… I never do these. I guess it is traditional roles as passed down from my parents… My husband does his share of the laundry and the cooking but I do most things for the kids too. But I must admit sometimes I get my martyr head on and flip out and go on strike 😉 Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT

    1. Ha ha ha! I’ve tried going on strike, but no one notices and no one picks up the slack. Then I can’t handle the mess and I just deal with it. It never works out like I’d like! I agree that the “pink” and “blue” idea of jobs is totally passed down from previous generations – and I’m okay with that. As long I feel like we’re doing and equal amount of work! Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  6. I agree that there is usually a primary parent too. Things are split pretty evenly in my house, but i’d day I’m the primary parent because I spend the most time with our daughter. #EatSleepBlogRT

    1. It’s good when things feel evenly split. But I’m hearing that most mom’s feel like they’re the primary parents. Can’t say I’m surprised. Thanks for the comment Lucy!

  7. I really don’t know why people get offended by pink and blue jobs. It’s a given in our house, that’s just the way the cookie crumbled. Do I like cleaning? No! Does he like looking after the garden? No. It’s called compromise and adulting. Great post! #stayclassymama

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