O Captain, my captain!

This Woman Swears By Her Relationship Hack: Choose A “Captain”

The new mom says she and her fiancé use it for every area of their life.

In a relationship, each person has strengths and weaknesses (or things they either love or hate doing). In the best case, those things balance each other out. In the worst case, they can cause fights. As you walk through life with a person, knowing where they flourish and you falter can make a huge difference. But how do you really tap into it to make it work for your family? One new mom on TikTok is sharing her hack: assign a “captain.”

“Me and my fiancé do this thing called ‘the Captain,’ and it’s where every area of our life has a captain. And if you’re the captain of that area, you get to make all the calls and the other person just has to follow and listen,” explains Cassidy Skelton (@cassidyskelton).

She gives examples, pointing out that it’s not about one person bailing on responsibilities but leaning into what they’re each good at. “For example, Nick is the captain of being the head tenant in places that we rent. He talks to the landlord; he organizes all of that kind of stuff. However, I’m the captain of our money, so I pay the rent,” she says. “And we just do this because he’s just better at communicating with landlords — it stresses me out when I do it. And I’m better at doing finances, so I do that.”

If you’re in a long-term relationship, you probably already do some version of this: Dad might call the shots on laundry, while Mom makes dinner decisions. The magic in Skelton’s system is that the division of tasks isn’t due to one person just picking up the slack or the household playing out tired gender norms — they’re delegating tasks in a way that maximizes effectiveness and gives each other breaks.

Mom might be in charge of meal planning, but that doesn’t mean her partner can’t still make dinner. It’s just already decided, and the ingredients have already been purchased. Similarly, the captain of the money might pay the bills, but in a healthy relationship, they’re not controlling what their partner does with their fun money.

If you’re immediately thinking of how you’d like to never be in charge of making a phone call to a landlord, bank, or contractor again, this might be the system for you. If you’re wondering what it means for parenting, though, Skelton is quick to assure everyone that there’s no single captain when it comes to their baby.

“It’s also really handy with our son because whoever the captain is in the situation has him on us. Like if we’re babywearing him, the captain will have our nugget,” she explains. “So, for example, in an airport, I’m the captain because I used to be a flight attendant; I know how they work. They don’t stress me out, and I’m really good at knowing where we need to be and what we need to be doing. So, any time we’re in an airport, I’m wearing our son because I’m the most calm parent, and therefore, he would be the most calm baby on me.”

Since captains are usually assigned based on who is calmer or better equipped to handle the situation, the other partner falls into line.

Skelton says this applies to nights with the baby, too. Both parents might get up, but the predetermined captain calls the shots. They wake up first and, when they wake up the other parent, know and communicate exactly what they need from their non-captain... or co-captain.

Many families expressed in the comments on Skelton’s video that they’ve adopted a similar strategy.

“We do this too! Except we say, ‘I’ve got the braincell,’” Glory shared.

“We call this head chef and sous chef!” said Al Farquharson Reid.

“We do it, but it is the ‘Whisperer.’ I make better eggs, so I am the egg whisperer and, thus, am the only one permitted to make eggs in our house. We do this for literally everything,” said Seth Kravetz.

One person shared a very Harry Potter-esque slant, saying, “Same. But we do it through Ministry. For example, I’m the Minister for Education. He’s the Finance Minister.”

Others expressed just what a great idea it is.

“That’s actually brilliant — sharing the mental load equitably while also playing to each other’s strengths!” said Veeteeheehee.

“This would also be really helpful for people with ADHD. Plays to our strengths/interests and allows us space to not have to use our brain... not even in a relationship, but I watched this whole thing 🤣,” said another commenter.

If you’re already delegating tasks in your household, having a conversation about “captains” — or ministers or head chefs or whisperers — could streamline your system even more.

Skelton and her fiancé’s captain-assigning allows them to play to their strengths and weaknesses. It allows each of them to, within reason, wash their hands of certain tasks. It also gives them a bit of grace if, in their moment of captaining, they forget their manners. (You should still treat your co-captain with respect, though.)

Now, off to Amazon to buy a completely unnecessary captain’s hat!