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Sharon Meers's picture

I just finished reading "Equally Shared Parenting: Half the Work....All the Fun" by Marc and Amy Vachon, and I really enjoyed it, in large part because they say so many of the same things as Sharon and I. I especially love the fact that the book was written by a couple, and they seem so confident with their decisions.

The main difference between the Vachons' and our views in Getting to 50/50 is that they strongly advocate both parents taking down their hours and becoming independent contractors in order to gain more flexibility, while we grapple more with how to work full time and make 50/50 work. But in the end, for all of us, it is hard to deny that it comes down to hours: there are never enough in the day, and how can we do everything in the ones that are available.

I think a lot about a blog that I read (and we quote) by a woman who believes that her family can survive 80 hours of work: split 40/40, 70/10 or 30/50, but that her life falls apart when the total work hours exceed 80. In our family it is probably closer to 90 hours, but it is true that when we are both really busy, important things start to slide. It is hard to figure out 50/50 when one person has a job that requires 100 hours a week, which explains why many women married to investment bankers feel pressured to quit.

Many of us believe that our jobs cannot be completed in less time. But the most interesting counter to that are the studies of divorced dads. Those same investment bankers who believe they need to work 100 hours/week when their wives stay at home, once divorced, somehow manage to do their jobs in less hours and show up at school and at home a lot more often. Somehow they find the time and figure out how to be more efficient so they can spend time with their children.

I think both Equally Shared Parenting (the Vachon's term) or 50/50 (ours) are possible with big jobs and small, full time and part time. But either way the jobs require some flexibility so we can split the hours, split the housework and kidcare, and come home for dinner. In this I think we are 100% in agreement.

Joanna Strober

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