Are you part of a team? (lean in to relationships)

I said last week that the focus of leaning in wasn’t all on women and it’s not. When men lean in too the results are amplified. My take on Lean In is that we need to be a team, everyone supporting each other. The #leanintogether campaign run by the Lean In foundation says:

“Involved dads raise happier, healthier, and more successful children. Moreover, kids benefit when that involvement goes beyond the traditional paternal role. When parents have 50/50 partnerships, children grow up with more egalitarian views and can envision more possibilities for themselves. Telling your kids “you can do anything” is not nearly as effective as showing them they can!”

I did a poll in an online ‘lean in’ group and we have and a number of people said publicly and privately that they wanted to lean in more in their relationship. As the parents of three girls, my partner and I are fully aware of the challenges which might face them as they grow and we strive to model behaviour that they can learn from. 

How we lean in together

One of the most important things for us is that we share the responsibilities of bringing up our children as well as looking after the house and earning the money. There are three things we aim for:

  • My partner works long hours so it seems fair to me that I do a bit more around the house during the week (obviously I work long hours looking after the kids but I mean putting the washing on, loading the dishwasher etc). Even before kids we have always had a 50:50 approach to the housework, not least because I hate cleaning the bathroom with a passion and he loves it!
  • We both enjoy cooking and I am thrilled that he is a fantastic cook (one of the things I love most about him) and so we are able to share that too, which has resulted in our eldest daughter showing a keen interest, making cooking in our house a family affair.
  • I am an early bird so am able to give him a lie-in on the weekends whilst I take the girls to the local park and he is able to relieve me when our biggest one is up late, both of them night owls together. We implement family time every day, even if it’s ten minutes.

Challenging the status quo at work

Of course, it’s not just important sharing responsibilities in the home, men play an important part in challenging the status quo at work too ensuring that unconscious bias is addressed and that all colleagues are supported and encouraging them to lean in at work; to share their opinion in that meeting or to go for that promotion. Like at home, men and women are part of a team.

Relationships are hard, both professional ones and personal, they take work. This week I was catching up with a friend and we were talking about our other halves and I thought how important it is that in any relationship we don’t launch straight into focusing on all the things that niggle us about the other person…let’s be honest, we have things that will niggle them about us too.

It’s important for our relationships and for others to see (including our children) that we are a team; we must believe it too. I’d love to hear your tips and stories about how you and your partner #leanintogether

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