Can you measure what goes into parenting?

How do you quantify what goes into parenting in order to share it better?

parents on shared parental leave


How do you measure things that are difficult to quantify? There is a lot of research about childcare and housework, with people attempting to measure how much time parents spend on this and how mums and dads share things.

Even this is problematic because what qualifies as childcare [it’s definitely not just nursery and school pick-ups, changing nappies, taking people to the doctor’s, dealing with nits or doing school admin] and housework [again, what is it and how gendered are the individual tasks. Can the tasks be allocated a particular time slot if you do them all the time, eg, picking stuff up?]?

A lot of the categorisation seems to be about small children – and small children without special needs which is a whole different ball game. Is childcare even a relevant term for older children? It’s more about care per se and everything that contributes to someone’s well being. That kind of care is complex, multi-faceted and enormously undervalued in our society because it is mostly done by women. It ranges from dealing with sibling rivalry to supporting people through exams and bullying and the like to helping them with mental health problems.

None of these are quantifiable time-wise, but things like mental health problems are becoming much more of the norm.  How do you share these evenly? It may be that one parent is better at drawing particular teens out or that it is merely assumed that they are.

Perhaps one parent has themselves been through mental health problems, making them either a better person to talk about them or the worst person to do so because it means they have to relive stuff that can be difficult? Parenting brings up every single thing that contributes to who you are, forces you to relive past experiences and generally puts every single character flaw under scrutiny. Children absorb everything that you are – the good and the not so good. You cannot be what you are not after all. All you can be is aware of the things that go into who you are and what the impact of your behaviour and experience might be on others.

Clearly measuring things is an important way to track change, but it’s not a simple task and every stone you overturn reveals several more underneath. We are only at the start of the journey, as they say.

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