What it means to “provide for your family” | The Parent Pact

The arrival of a new baby is without a doubt an incredible gift, but it’s also a life-changing experience for BOTH parents. Typically, it is the mum that takes extended leave to care for the newborn baby, whilst dad becomes the sole wage earner for this new little family. Mum can feel overwhelmed and lonely, even mourning the independent work life she left behind, whilst recent research by WaterWipes showed that a third of men find it hard to be away from their partner. These feelings can continue long after a couple has become a working family.

In the UK, many positive cultural shifts have occurred that have moved societal expectations away from the binary model of the 50/60s. A new landscape of co-parenting has emerged and with it, a millennial approach that fosters a greater role for dads. However, the terminology around ‘who provides’ for the family is still rooted in the past. The reality is, that ‘providing’ no long has the sole monetary meaning. Rather how we support, love and give one another space to venture into new activities, may it be work or childcare.

For me, it’s all about balance and I think that initially, it’s a balance that’s hard to strike. To provide for your family involves care but also finances and the cogs of the machine run a lot smoother with both. How that is divided is down to each family dynamic but both roles should be appreciated in their own right! As the primary caregiver and person making a very small financial contribution while on maternity leave it was easy to get caught up in how my role was more important, and to an oblivious baby, yes it is. However, finances make our world go round and without them, there would be a lot more pressure and for that contribution, my husband deserves his own credit. When we first had a baby we both really struggled with the adjustment and wanting to win the battle of “who does more” but at the end of the day, both roles are hard BUT essential. Like I said, it’s about balance to make those cogs turn efficiently and to drive your family unit. We are just finding that balance five months on. I do feel one parent will take the heavier weight of the job role, so for me, even though I don’t contribute financially – my role never stops! It’s taken a lot for me to learn to ask for help and not try to be superwoman, it’s also nice as my husband WANTS to help, he wants to give care too. Communication is key! 
– Georgina Clarke, Georgina Clarke Blog 

Where we were very much equal in the relationship before children I would say that we are less equal now that we have children. Before we would split bills equally, share the housework equally and have leisure time for ourselves equally. Although James would probably say we are still equal I definitely feel less equal as now I can’t contribute to the bills as much, I’m at home so do most of the housework and leisure time is very rare for me! But I guess I have the better end of the deal as I get to watch our girls grow every day. This was something I struggled with massively after my first. I hated that I couldn’t “provide” for my family because I was on maternity leave. I also struggled with PND which didn’t help but this time around I feel like we are equal. Because I’m providing our children with love and care. I also keep our home ticking over and I will go back to work. Just not right now whilst I’m raising our children

– Amy Green, The Smallest of Things

For me, providing for your family isn’t just about money. It’s about how you earn it. I can be relatively easy to earn money, but it doesn’t always mean it is right. Earning whilst keeping your integrity is so important and is a valuable lesson to teach to our children. Providing your family with life lessons is far more valuable than any amount of money, and experiences stand the test of time far better than material objects. Provide with love. 

– Rachel Bradford, The Illustrated Teacup 

Providing for my family is so much more than just financially, although that does cover a large part of it. For me, I want to provide for them physically by being at home with them each day, something which we have made sacrifices so that I can do. It’s very hard raising a family of six on one wage, but that was the choice we made and I have no insecurities about that. 
– Laura Dove, Five Little Doves

We don’t really split anything but work together to achieve all we need to. Ultimately the aim is to be able to offer the children stability, support and opportunities that maybe we didn’t have when we were their age. We both work/earn, both cook and clean, both share the school drop offs and activities. Oh, actually … he does put the bins out each week! 

– Tracey Kifford, Pack the PJs

I think it’s a real mix. I’m actually the primary caregiver (as in school pick up, drop off, day to day care etc) because my husband works out of the home, but I’m also the primary financial earner. While both of those things are desperately important, I don’t think they are everything when it comes to raising and caring for a family. In the time that my husband is with both the kids and myself, he plays a fundamental role in our family, is always a constant role model for the kids with working and he’s supportive of my work while maintaining his own. I think it’s a real blend, and we’re a team.
– Harriet Phoebe Shearsmith, Toby & Roo

I had just qualified as a nurse when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I had focussed all my energy into becoming a nurse and then immediately my focus was my son. It killed me going back to work, and even though my nursing is a life long career, it’s family before work for me. I’m just on maternity leave waiting for my second baby and want to reduce hours further when I go back. I’m torn daily by wanting to provide a stable family home and good work ethics whilst feeling guilty for leaving my son. When I was at work some days I felt I wasn’t “mom” enough, I’d have to wake Freddie up, drag him to my moms, work all day for me to then come home and see him when I was knackered and miserable/emotional from a bad day at work, just for me to say..”I’m a working mom, I have the best of both worlds”. That’s one of the things that I struggled with the most, waking up my baby so I could go to work. Now I’m on maternity I feel a lot more wholesome as a mom? I’m there, providing in a nurturing way and for me, that feels much more enriched than being stuck on the work treadmill, even if it is for the “caring” profession. We haven’t had that argument but I feel I do more because my work can be so emotionally draining when it’s a difficult caseload, even though my husband is in a manual job. I can’t always come home dot on 5 pm just because I finish then and switch off when I get home, so I tend to lean on my husband to support me at home that way. Even though he is just as physically knackered!

– Emma Jones, Ready, Freddy, Go

Although my husband burdens the main financial provisions for our family, I like to think I provide most of the care! Being at home doesn’t mean I’m not providing for my family even though I’m not earning. That said, it is a constant battle with myself that I feel I SHOULD be contributing financially. I really have to keep reminding myself of the worth I bring that can’t be measured in monetary terms.
– Holly Hancocks, Little Pickles Mum

For me, it’s about money. You can’t do much as a family without money in the long run!
– John Shed, The Money Shed

I worry a lot about what would happen if my partner and I split up as I’m not earning enough to live on. We are very happy together but as a Divorcee and child of divorced parents, these things happen.
For now, it’s working brilliantly. My partner pays t
he bills, I look after the children weekdays and everything else is divided. All he asks is that I keep the little ones safe if I manage cooking or cleaning he considers that a bonus 

– Kate Kirk, Counting to Ten

I’ve never thought that providing for your family is restricted to financial support. Emotional support is just as important, if not more so. Growing up without a dad, I can say with all honesty that my focus as a dad now, is to provide all of the love and care I can, and then some more. I feel it’s far more important to provide happiness and joy to your family than just a pay slip.
– Gareth Torrance, The Marketing Punk 

To me ‘providing for my family’ means providing what they need. Be it love, support or a roof over their head and food in their tummies. We are the parents and it’s our job to provide what it is they need. 
– Vicky Coombe, Tippy Tupps

‘Providing for your family’ in my opinion encompasses many things. I provide the day to day unpaid stuff (school runs, food shopping, cleaning, homework etc) and my OH works to provide financially. I’m currently on a career break and taking on the role of SAHM. It took me a while to feel ok about not providing financially but my OH doesn’t have any issues with it. All in all, we both provide for our children and each other. Put aside the day to day stuff we just want a happy home with a happy family and so long as needs are met then we are just that, happy
– Helen Miller, Talking Mums 

I see providing for the family as anything anyone does to contribute to our lives. I’m the main wage earner, also work part time and run my own business and blog on the side but my husband also works full time. His mum does the school pick ups, my dad takes lily swimming every Sunday morning, my friends love taking her out and are forever sending her little gifts and notes – all of which I would say provide for our family… 
– Alex Iveson, Better Together Home 

*This is a collaborative post 

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