Ending the Most Common Parent FightJoel Stein
I’d rather see my parents have sex than hear them argue about who is doing more work by watching me. That’s partly because my parents are divorced and could cut my visits in half if they were together.
But it’s also because the subtext of that fight isn’t just that hanging out with your child is work — but that it’s unpleasant work. And that’s not true. It’s just that most of hanging out with your kid is unpleasant work.
So to help end this argument that every couple insists on having, I’ve set up a system to qualify instead of simply quantify how much time you spend with your child. Because all kid time is not equal.
To calculate how much real parenting work you’ve put in on any day, just scan to the activity you did with your kid below. Then take the number of hours you spend on that activity and multiply it by the number listed below. Compare your total to your spouse’s total and start screaming about it.
I call this system the Child Rearing Effort To Time Ratio, or CRETTR, which will soon replace the previous system, which was called “I spent all day with Jaden while you only gave him a bath and read him a book!”
Activity — CRETTR Multiplier
Making an inanimate object talk — 4
Playing a board game — 2
Playing a video game — 1
Reading a book you’ve read before — 1.5
Reading a book you’ve never read — 1
Going to a kid’s movie — 1.5
Going to a kid’s movie made by Pixar — .25
Going to the playground — 2
Running errands — 1.5
Getting child to bed — 5
Driving to and from school — 1
Giving child a bath — 2.5
Feeding — 2
Overseeing art projects — 2
Overseeing child playing on his/her own — .25
Overseeing TV watching — 0
Overseeing TV watching during Elmo’s World — 1
Being in house while child is napping — 0
Going to the doctor (no shot) — 2
Going to the doctor (shot) — 4
Helping with homework — 2.5
Going to kid’s birthday party — 1.5
Watching their team play — 1.5
Attending play dates with parents you like — 1
Attending play dates with parents you hate — 3
To review how this works: One parent says, “You make dinner! I spent all day with Jaden while you only gave him a bath and read him a book!” The second parent says, “What exactly did you do?!” Then the screaming parents take out their phones and load up their CRETTR apps.
They find out that the stay-at-home parent went food shopping (1 hour), put Jaden down for a nap (2 hours), fed him lunch (30 minutes), had a play date with a cool friend (three hours), had to pretend to be Thomas the Train (30 minutes), and let him watch Sesame Street in the other room— totaling 7.5 hours of work. The working parent gave Jaden a bath (30 minutes), read Curious George and Cat in the Hat for the 50th time (30 minutes) and got him to sleep (1 hour) totaling 7.5 hours of work.
After calculating this, it is far too late to make dinner. But the fight is over, and the couple now appreciates each other’s effort, so they proceed to the bedroom to make love. All because of the CRETTR. Hopefully, Jaden doesn’t walk in and see them.