Baby-Nup Contracts Help New Parents Split Up Chores and Childcare Responsibilities

These written agreements are like prenups, but the assets are mom and dad's time. Here's what you need to know.

Husband Signing Paper on Coffee Table Next To Wife
Photo: Fizkes/Getty Images

May 2, 2019

You've heard of couples signing a prenup before marriage, but do you know anyone who's gotten a baby-nup before having a child? These contracts, written up before the baby arrives, are supposed to help new moms and dads agree on how they'll divide up the childcare duties and household chores.

And baby-nups (yes, really) are on the rise, according to a CBS2 report. These parenting pacts can be as detailed as the parents want, but it's essentially a chore chart for grownups.

"The idea is just at least have some sort of order," said Rachel Bowie, whose son Finn is "almost a year." She said the baby-nup contract she and hubby Matt Dorville have is more of a flexible agreement, but it's worked well for them so far.

"I think it was just more of an extension on organization honestly," said Dorville. "It's just kind of going, you know what? We're going to try this. We're going to try something new to make it a little bit better. You have to adapt."

And for some parents, a baby-nup can make the chaos that comes with taking care of a newborn at least a little more manageable. Melissa and Greg Biggs decided to come up with a baby-nup agreement when they were expecting their second child back in 2015.

"I remembered how exhausting and stressful it all was when we had our daughter, especially since I was breastfeeding and a lot fell on me," Melissa told Parade. "I consider myself a pretty organized person, so I decided to create a physical chore chart for my husband and I. We both sat down and divided up all the baby and household duties together."

The Biggs' baby-nup is more of a set-in-stone agreement than Bowie and Dorville's. "I listed all the chores we had and assigned a name to each one and hung it on our fridge," said Melissa. "We both signed it so we knew we would stick to it, no excuses."

And that works well for them. Baby-nups aren't for everyone, though. Today's Dylan Dryer called the idea "kind of ridiculous," while Craig Melvin quipped, "You know who came up with the baby-nup? Some people without babies. "

But experts say that for some parents, baby-nups do have advantages. Jane Greer, Ph.D., is marriage and family therapist who sees the merit in parents-to-be proactively divvying up the childcare responsibilities. "Who's going to be doing to be doing what, and how things are actually going to shape up is very often unknown, she told CBS2. "So having a conversation, having some clarity about it, can only be enlightening and helpful."

Matt Lundquist, Columbia University-trained psychotherapist practicing in New York, sees the value in drawing up a baby-nup as well. "The number one issue couples reach out to us for is communication," he told Parade. "Childcare is an area where couples often make assumptions–based on how they were raised or even an interpretation of things there partner has said or inferences based on a sense of who their partner is. A plan such as this–a contract–allows the opportunity to test those assumptions, to make them clear and bring attention sooner (pre-baby) to what might live in conflict."

But again, to each their own. As mom and radio personality Connie Bernardi joked on Twitter, "My husband and I can't even decide where to go to dinner—I can't even imagine laying down a baby-nup before we had kids."

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