For Hannah Selinger, a busy freelance writer with two small children, creating a contract with her husband outlining child care during the COVID quarantine was "the only way" to divide household duties fairly, she told "Good Morning America."
The division of labor prior to the pandemic was "already not really fair," she said. "Already I was losing. Now with no child care, if you think I am the only caretaker here, you are out of your mind," she said of her thinking when the realization hit that both parents would be working from home while providing full-time child care as well.
Selinger first wrote about the experience for Good Housekeeping. In her piece, Selinger wrote in part, "I felt myself drowning. Our conversations devolved into arguments about who deserved what. He saw his position as intractable. I saw my mental state as steadily deteriorating. Communication wasn’t getting us anywhere."
A recent survey from LeanIn.org found that women are shouldering a much heavier burden of household labor and care giving while in quarantine -- and it's causing them severe stress and burnout.
So, she told "Good Morning America," she emailed him a contract.
Upon receipt, Selinger said her husband asked if he had a choice in the matter. She told him he did not.
The terms were clear. Time with, and away from, the children was split right down the middle. Her husband has three three-quarter days "off" and she has two full days. Flexibility is built in, with the ability to switch or take more hours one day in return for giving more another, she told "GMA."
"There's still a learning curve," she said about the now-months-old contract. "It's been better for my job than my relationship." Her job as a successful freelancer is dependent on her keeping her writing, her pitching and her brand current.
Even with the contract in place, Selinger said she still shoulders more emotional labor than her husband, not to mention tasks like dinner each night and the laundry.
Still, the contract has helped "level the playing field," she said. "There's still an imbalance, but I'll take what I can get."