Understanding Your Equal Parenting Results

If you’ve finished the Equal Parenting quiz and have questions about your results, this is where you can find more explanation of how we calculated your results, what they mean, and what to do next:

Your Share of the Parenting

Your first result shows two pie charts with (likely) different results for the amount of the work you do. For each of you, the chart on the left will show your result and the chart on the right will show your partner’s. The reason we show both is because this measure is based on your impressions of your share of the work. It is a subjective measure – and that’s the point. It’s likely that you and your partner differ on what you understand the division of workload to be. This result is designed to help you see where your understandings and perceptions might differ.

The results show a simple percentage of the workload based on the 14 categories of parenting work. The intention is to create a way to capture a deeper understanding of the diversity of tasks involved in caring for your children, and make them visible to help facilitate more open conversations between you and your partner.

The most important points to note when you review your results and discuss them with your partner are these:

1. There is no “right” way to share this workload, only what’s right for you, your partner and your children.

2. The truth of how much you each do is rarely any one person’s perception, and it’s likely somewhere in between the two results you see displayed. The best way to discover what’s really going on is to discuss category by category what you each take care of currently, and if that’s the right balance. 

However balance is about more than the percentage of work you do, which is why it’s important to look at whether one of you does too much of a specific type of work (physical, emotional, administrative). It’s also important to understand if one of you does an unfair amount of the unrewarding work, so you can both get equal enjoyment from parenting.

If you find that you’re not happy with the way you share the parenting once you’ve discussed it, you should have more understanding of how you can start to re-distribute the different types of tasks. The starting point may be to look at the nature of the work, where there may be imbalances. More on this below.

Equal Parenting Quiz Result Showing Your Physical Workload

The Physical Work (The Execution)

The physical work is the “doing” or “execution”. It can include everything from going to the shops to buy your children new clothes or equipment, preparing school lunches or snacks, as well as taking them to appointments and picking them up. This category is important to understand and discuss, because the “doing” work is the more visible workload. However you might experience it differently to your partner.

The chart will show both the volume and intensity of the physical work you do. If your bar is longer than your partner’s, this shows that you’re doing more of this type of work overall. The intensity of the work (from not physical through to very physical) can help you understand if your workload is “lighter” than your partner’s by this measure.

If you feel there is an imbalance in physical work, a starting point would be to discuss each category and how physical you find the work you do to be. By breaking down specifics you may be able to identify the tasks or responsibilities that you can re-distribute to get to a more balanced share for both of you. 

Discussion will help you to understand particularly if there are tasks that one of you might find more demanding or physical than the other. Factor in how rewarding you find the work as well to decide whether you want to make changes.

The Emotional Work (The Emotional Labour)

The emotional work is something we often overlook as part of parenting. It’s the situations, conversations and care that might feel emotionally challenging or draining, and frequently involves putting another person’s feelings and emotional state before your own. If you’re having to suppress your frustration when your toddler has a meltdown or your teenager is being challenging, that’s work. If you’re having to think about what your child needs to hear rather than what you want to say during a hard conversation, that’s work. 

In fact, there is term for this work – emotional labour. It was coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild in 1983 in her book, ‘The Managed Heart’, and she intended the term in relation to actual workplace situations, particularly service industries. Her point was that a lot of the more stereotypically female work of putting on a happy face and making others comfortable has been commodified in a way that creates stress and burnout for the people who do it. If fact, if one or both of you work in service industries, you may be both skilled at emotional labour, and more at risk of burn out because of it.

However since Hochschild, the term has evolved to include work of the same nature that routinely occurs within the home. Gemma Hartley in her book ‘Fed up: Emotional Labour, Women and the way forward’ says, “Emotional labor, as I define it, is emotion management and life management combined. It is the unpaid, invisible work we do to keep those around us comfortable and happy.” In fact, Hartley’s definition encapsulates many aspects of unpaid work, including mental load. 

To understand the emotional work you do as a parent, much of this can involve the way you manage behavioural challenges and upsets. You’re likely to face an increase in emotional work when your children are toddlers and teenagers. It requires empathy, emotional regulation and emotional intelligence to separate your feelings from the feelings of the little person you’re caring for. 

To understand your results, take a look at both the volume of the emotional work you and your partner do, and the intensity of that work. If one of you is managing too much of the highly emotional work, then you may want to take steps to share it. This sort of work is associated with stress and burn out, so it’s important to ensure one of you isn’t overloaded. Discussing each category of parenting work and how you experience each will help you pinpoint where you feel the emotional labour sits for you. 

Equal Parenting Quiz Result Showing Your Emotional Workload
Equal Parenting Quiz Result Showing Your Administrative Workload

The Administrative Work (The Mental Load)

The administrative work is the area that is most associated with mental load. Mental load is the work of remembering, organising, accounting for, planning and managing your life and the lives of others in your household. It’s sometimes referred to as being the CEO or Manager of the household. You’re bearing the mental load if you:

  • Frequently have to ask or delegate tasks to others
  • Are asked to “remind” someone to do something they’re responsible for instead of them taking responsibility for remembering themselves, or
  • Are often asked “how can I help” when it comes to housework, instead of them seeing what needs to be done and doing it

You can read more about mental load here.

However, mental load is notoriously difficult to measure – because it’s something that takes place in our heads. It’s also commonly associated with decision-fatigue, where the more decisions we make, the harder each one becomes. Even if those decisions are trivial details, like what to make for dinner, or where to take the kids to get out of the house this weekend. That’s why it’s important to share this work fairly.

To understand your results, first take a look at the volume of administrative work you each do to see if there is an imbalance. In some cases, one of you may prefer to take on more of the administrative tasks, particularly if you have an illness, injury or condition that impacts your physical ability to take on other kinds of work.

Next, take a look at the intensity of the administrative work each of you do – if one of you does far more of the highly administrative tasks, there could be opportunities to balance this more fairly. Balancing these tasks can help alleviate stress and help you both feel better supported in sharing your parenting responsibilities more equally. 

As with other categories of work, the first step us to go through each category of work to discuss where you do the administrative or mental load work, so you can identify opportunities to redistribute it more fairly.

Rewarding

The graph on your results page shown how rewarding the work is that you do. Perhaps more than any other category, this is where you and your partner may most want to find a fair way to share the work. The rewards of being a parent are something neither of you will want to miss out on. That’s why you can both benefit from sharing the unrewarding (but still important) work, while equally sharing in the ‘fun’, bonding, joyful moments with your children. 

As with your other results, when you look at the graph you will see the relative volume of work you do represented by your results bar. If there is a difference in length between your result and your partners, this will show if one of you is doing more than the other. However the low (green) result – the unrewarding work – and the high (red) result – the very rewarding work – are where you should start discussion on the work you each do.

Unlike other categories, in this case, you want to maximise the high result on your graph, which represents one of the best parts of parenting, and minimise the green result, which represents the more grinding, necessary but unexciting work. By discussing with your partner the tasks that you find most rewarding (which could be very different for each of you), you can help both of you make the most of the parts of parenting that give you real enjoyment and make the hard work worthwhile.

Equal Parenting Quiz Result Showing Your Rewarding Workload
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