Mental Load, for 2
October 20, 2019 3:18 PM   Subscribe

We have a toddler. Already, the mental load is falling more on one parent than the other because so many incoming emails arrive in only one parent's inbox. We use Gmail. How best to manage?

Even when we give both parents' email addresses to our providers (dentist, doctor, accountant, daycare, repair person....) they always drop the dad from the "to" field and send it all to the mom. It's overwhelming.

It seems like a good solution would be to set up a family email account.

To prevent redundancies, we'd need all incoming emails, and all our replies, to always forward to BOTH parents' personal Gmail addresses... is that possible?
posted by nouvelle-personne to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. We do this in our household. It's super convenient because I work nights, so in general there's emails that need to be responded by one parent or handled during the daytime. Every email that comes into the joint address is automatically forwarded. The replies aren't, but I bet it could be set up.

Honestly we are both are logged into the account at all times anyway so the forwarding isn't even that useful.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:30 PM on October 20, 2019

It's also possible to have both your phones checking & sending from that email address as well as your personal one, that way you both have access to all the replies.
(Our household email address is our two last names combined celebrity-couple-style).
posted by bleep at 3:36 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

You can also have actions in gmail to always make a copy of any email from a particular address to the other parent address, this way they bounce to the other parent's email.
posted by nickggully at 3:44 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Definitely set up a new “family” address and either forward emails from that account to both parents or have both parents check that account. My husband and I don’t have kids but we set up a shared account originally for wedding-related stuff and it’s come in handy for lots of other things.
posted by mskyle at 4:16 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the replies so far. For some reason Gmail isn't forwarding messages to that account to both email addies though- only to one. Can anyone walk me through how to do both? Maybe I'm somehow doing it wrong...?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 4:22 PM on October 20, 2019

In order to foward to an email account, the instructions are pretty clear. However, there is a verification message that must be approved by following the link before messages will be forwarded. Is it possible that the other account just deleted the verification message assuming it was a notification, rather than a message that had a link that needed to be followed?

I'd say try removing the address that isn't getting the forwarded message, and then re-add it, and watch for the verification message.

We're another couple that has one address that forwards to both of us. Conveniently we can use . The only annoyance about this, is that sometimes when replying we've had cases in the gmail android app where it only wants to reply to LastName@gmail instead of the other people on the message. Thankfully in the events this has happened my spouse or myself have caught this for the other.
posted by nobeagle at 4:32 PM on October 20, 2019

We use FirstnameandFirstnameLastname@gmail. I have a separate email app on my phone that shows notifications for that account. He goes back and forth between gmail accounts within the app. If something noteworthy comes by and he sees it and handles it, he forwards it to my main email once resolved, or if we need to discuss and I catch it first, I forward to him to discuss next steps. It works for us.
posted by OrangeVelour at 5:20 PM on October 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Or divide the senders into two, thus dividing the tasks completely. One parent takes everything kid related, the other everything house related. Or one of you gets the daycare, the other the doctor and dentist, and so on. Whatever works best for your schedules. In our house for a few years, Dad did everything child related and I did everything house related. Also helps ensure each parent agrees to take over everything associated with each task, not just the managerial tasks involved in replying to email.
posted by EllaEm at 6:31 PM on October 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

As an alternative: divide and conquer or else Mom still ends up with more mental load. Make Dad primarily responsible for a couple of things — dentist? Doctor? — and then Mom is relieved of that burden. Do both parents need to be fully informed of all the things? There’s beauty in letting go and trusting your partner and kid’s other parent to manage a certain aspect of kid’s life.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:29 PM on October 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

The real problem is when a critical piece of mail is missing, or mis-delivered, or otherwise not handled in timely fashion.
One family email keeps it all in one place.

Once it's in the family box, divide up who responds to what (medical, educational, financial, social) and that way it is one person's responsibility. If they don't do it, it doesn't get done. The person with responsibility has the authority to make decisions, with input from others. This way there are fewer cases of dropped balls.

In the event of one person being out of the loop temporarily, all the passwords and history are in one place for all interested parties. If there is a change of duties (illness, out of state, change in employment) then the changeover is seamless.
posted by TrishaU at 3:53 AM on October 21, 2019

My family also has a shared email account,, which forwards to both.

If you decide to switch to a shared account after having given people your personal address, you may have to set up a Gmail filter that

1. forwards mail from certain addresses to the shared account
2. auto-replies to those messages asking people to update their records and mail the shared account instead.

You can set up Gmail with an auto-response that only fires for particular addresses.

And then never respond directly from your own account (unless your kid is going to get abandoned on the street etc.)
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:26 AM on October 21, 2019

You don't want to forward email from the shared account, you want to both access the shared account from within your personal account. Follow the directions here under "Get All Messages".
posted by Rock Steady at 7:02 AM on October 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

For the love of god, call out the doctor, accountant, etc. when they do this! Tell them it's sexist and you don't pay money to sexist businesses.
posted by Violet Hour at 2:10 PM on October 21, 2019

Once you have your family acct set up it's also good to use for accounts that you both need to be able to set the password for like Netflix, bank accounts, health insurance, taxes, etc. I use Chrome's "People" feature to keep all of those shared accounts signed in and bookmarked, so either one of us on any computer signed in to chrome under the shared account gets all of that stuff automatically.
posted by bleep at 3:55 PM on October 21, 2019

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