‘Default’ parents: carrying the load

Behind every person working hard, working long hours, weekends, away on business trips etc, there is someone else working just as hard to pick up all the other things. The school runs, the club runs, the home, the organising, the food shopping, the cooking and cleaning, the cuddling, the patching up of a cut knee, the new wellies for the school trip, the Calpol for the temperature, the sorting out of disputes with friends, the school trip money and consent form, the parcels that need sending back, the parcels that need waiting in for, the fights that need breaking up, the spellings that need to be learnt etc etc. This is often as well as having a job!

Being a parent is a full-time job that requires constant attention and care. While many couples share parenting responsibilities, it’s not uncommon for one parent to become the “default” parent. The default parent is the one who takes on the majority of the parenting duties, from scheduling appointments to packing lunches and attending school events. In this blog post, we’ll explore the challenges and rewards of being the default parent.

Obviously this differs from household to household – it might be another parent, a grandparent or other family member, or even a combination of paid help and family support – but lets not kid ourselves for a second it’s not hard.

Anticipating everyone else’s needs and responding to those can be exhausting. It doesn’t feel heavy because you are weak, it feels heavy because it is heavy, it’s a lot. It takes a village they say – but lots of people don’t have a village, there’s no one else there ready to share the load or step in when you need help. Many mums don’t have a support system.


  1. Burnout: The default parent can easily become overwhelmed and exhausted from the constant demands of parenting, leading to burnout and feelings of resentment.
  2. Unequal distribution of labor: When one parent takes on the majority of the parenting duties, it can create an uneven distribution of labor within the relationship, leading to feelings of unfairness and frustration.
  3. Lack of support: The default parent may feel isolated and unsupported, as their partner may not fully understand the extent of their parenting responsibilities.


  1. Bonding with children: The default parent often has the opportunity to build a close bond with their children by being the one who is consistently there for them.
  2. Sense of accomplishment: Successfully managing the many responsibilities of parenting can give the default parent a sense of accomplishment and pride.
  3. Improved time management skills: Juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities can improve the default parent’s time management skills and ability to prioritise tasks.

Tips for balancing parenting responsibilities:

  1. Communicate openly with your partner about your parenting duties and how they can support you.
  2. Delegate tasks and responsibilities to your partner whenever possible.
  3. Set boundaries and communicate your needs to avoid burnout.
  4. Take time for self-care and prioritise your own well-being.
  5. Practice gratitude and focus on the positive aspects of being a parent.

Parenthood is a journey filled with joy, love, and countless rewards. However, it also comes with its fair share of challenges and responsibilities. Within the realm of parenting, there is often one parent who takes on the role of the “default parent,” shouldering the majority of the day-to-day tasks and decision-making.

Being the default parent comes with its own set of challenges, but it is crucial to remember that parenthood is a shared responsibility. By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, open communication, and actively working towards an equitable partnership, both parents can navigate the complexities of parenting and create a more balanced and fulfilling family life. Remember, being a parent should be a team effort, allowing both parents to share the joys and responsibilities that come with raising children.

Are you the ‘default’ parent – how do you navigate this?

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