A new trend that's rising in popularity among soon-to-be parents is signing "baby prenups" before the birth of a child. While signing a baby prenup is not right for every couple, for those who choose to do it, it can be a super prepared way of entering into parenthood together.
As more and more parents both work full time, more than half (56 percent) of all working parents say that balancing work and home life is a difficult one for them, a recent Pew Research Center survey suggests. And among working mothers in particular, 41 percent report that "being a parent has made it harder for them to advance in their career," while only about 20 percent of working fathers say the same. That's largely because a wealth of research suggests that mothers are too often forced to bear the burden of all or most parenting responsibilities and household chores.
Baby prenups, then, can help working mothers in particular, who pretty much never stop working unless they’re sleeping. Research suggests that they work the equivalent of two full-time jobs, clocking in an average of 98 hours per week.
So, what exactly is a baby prenup? It's, in essence, a written contract that outlines the parental duties of both expectant partners so that they know exactly how they're going to divvy up responsibilities. And, not only do they understand how they're going to divide parenting roles, but they've also pledged to abide by those roles.
The baby prenup might, for example, specify who is going to take care of night feedings, diaper changes, daycare drop-offs, grocery shopping for the family, doctor appointments, school or extracurricular drop-offs, etc. It might also delineate a clear budget that outlines how much each parent is going to contribute to their shared savings account, education funds, childcare costs and other child-related expenses. And it might even designate time for partners to engage in some self-care practices.
Of course, life happens and one partner may lose a job or fall ill, for examples, and, therefore, be unable to honor some or all of their share of parenting contract — and that may be a short- or long-term issue. Maybe someone is just running late from work and can't pick their child up from daycare that day, or one parent has an important, unmovable doctor appointment of their own, and they don't have time to take their child to their doctor appointment that day. That's why many baby prenups also offer flexibility in the contract and stress that consistent and honest communication is critical.
For some parents, baby prenups may seem ridiculous — like they're both adults who can, should and will plan to do their best parenting possible. They may expect to lean on each other and help each other out, but they may not want to specifically outline expectations of each other. That could seem, to some, distrustful.
But even talking through the factors that couples who create baby prenups discuss could help all expectant couples to manage their new lives.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.