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I’ve seen a disturbing trend in my social media lately. Post after post is complaining about our husbands not stepping up to do their fair share of caring for the children and home. We all want our husbands to do their part, yet we often treat them as parenting interns rather than parenting co-presidents.
If we actually expected our men to step up do you think they would? Ok, some of them wouldn’t let’s be honest. They don’t want it. There are many good men out there, however, who may surprise you if they had a chance to show you what’s up.
If we, as women, want equal partnership in the workforce and the world then we need to give our husbands an opportunity to have equal partnership in the home. Even if they don’t ask for it.
Here are my top 5 tips for getting your man to step up to the plate when it comes to caring for the family.
1. Ask, Don’t Demand
As a stay at home mom it is easy to get in the groove of running our household. We assign the children tasks and expect that they will be completed. We give consequences and rewards. We have a routine, a mission, and expect everyone to fall into line with our vision.
Within this thought process we give our husbands a honey do list. We have taken over the role of boss giving him the roll of employee. Don’t you think you’d have a bit of attitude if your husband treated you as his employee? I know I sure as heck did when mine tried to make me a daily schedule to keep while he was at work. I don’t think I could have rolled my eyes any harder.
When I take a look at myself, however, I realize I often treat him the same way. I make him a list of demands and a time frame for doing them. Just like a boss would.
I didn’t think that maybe he would rather pay someone to do that repair or yard-work than do it himself. I didn’t ask him if he had plans or projects that he wanted to accomplish this weekend. Maybe he would see a need in the home I haven’t noticed, or have a unique way to solve a problem if I gave him a chance to speak up.
Instead of handing your husband a list next time simply express to him your concern and ask if he can help. He may jump in and do it, he may suggest a solution you had never even thought of. Give him the chance to surprise you!
If he doesn’t jump in with ideas of his own you can always give yours then ask nicely and he’ll probably get that honey do list done a LOT faster now that he feels like a partner instead of an employee.
Way too often I find myself sitting around pouting about being unappreciated or not getting help when I have failed to let my husband know that I needed his assistance. I give the impression that everything is under control and he isn’t needed then get my feelings hurt when he doesn’t swoop in to rescue me.
We talked about this in counseling and I was blown away by how surprised he was. He honestly thought that I had everything managed and didn’t need his help!
2. Let Dad do it, and do it His Way
This one has always been hard for me. Shortly after we had our first child my husband came to me and expressed sadness that he wasn’t more involved in her care. He asked me why I never woke him up to help with her at night. My response was that waking him up was just as much work as getting up myself so why bother.
Now if this was a mutually agreeable solution that would be fine. In reality he felt slighted and disappointed that he wasn’t involved and I began to be resentful that I was doing all the work.
To make the dynamic even worse I often found myself correcting the way my husband did just about anything with our babies. I had 5 siblings and over 100 cousins after-all. What experience did he have with only 2 brothers and five cousins?!
I would tell him how to hold them, how to dress them, how to feed them, on and on. If he wasn’t doing it my way then he was doing it the wrong way.
Now, we have found a much better rhythm. I’m still the main nighttime caregiver, but I give him a LOT more control during the day.
He’s the #1 diaper changer when he’s home. I ask him to take over homeschool work or meals. If I’m breastfeeding I’ll have him to grab me a drink of water or some snacks. I’ll actually go to bed or out to lunch by myself and leave him home with zero instructions!
I’ve also gotten much better at not telling him he can’t do certain things with our kids (I just look away when he insists on tossing them 30 feet into the air), and even telling the kids “why don’t you go ask your dad” instead of thinking I need to make every parenting decision on my own.
3. Say Thank You
A little appreciation goes a long way.
We know that the job of mom is usually unappreciated. So much of what we do is never even seen. Clean rooms are messed up before husband gets home. Laundry is never done, dishes are always getting dirty, all of the boo boo kissing, educating, and just giving time is overlooked.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in feeling unappreciated we don’t stop to ask ourselves “when was the last time I thanked my husband for working hard to provide for our family?”
When you look for the good things to say thank you for you may be amazed by just how many little things you find! I was also surprised by just how much gratitude I got in return. When I started noticing and thanking him for what he did, he started putting more of an effort into thanking me for my contributions as well.
4. Don’t Treat Him Like The Babysitter
When you leave the house and your husband is home with the kids do you call it babysitting? I know I have been guilty of this one!
Dad is not the babysitter, he’s the parent. He doesn’t need to be left with a detailed list of schedules and routines. He doesn’t need to be told how Tommy likes his milk and that Betsy needs to pee before getting in bed.
He is an adult. Men are every bit as capable as women at caring for children. He may not do things exactly as you do, but that’s ok (refer to #2!).
If your husband really is genuinely unable or unwilling to care for your kids then that’s a whole different story. You should never put your children in danger. I get it.
Take the time to think though, have you so completely shut him out that he doesn’t even know the basics of how to make dinner or what time bed is? If so then you have failed him as a spouse, not the other way around.
Let him fail. You may come home to cereal bowls on the table and the toddler put to bed naked, but at least you got a few hours off and the house didn’t burn down!
5. Remember, Parenting is a Team Sport
As in any relationship success comes from open honest communication. No two people will ever agree 100% of the time. Sit down and talk about the pros and cons of different parenting techniques and together come to a compromise that works. In some relationships this may require a third party. We have a therapist, no shame here! We needed help!
Take the time to understand your spouses family of origin and how they affect your spouses thoughts and opinions. You have to be learn when to back down and when to put your foot down. You have to remember your husband is your parenting Co-President, not your intern.
Once you reach an agreement on a specific topic it’s perfectly ok to hold each other accountable. Speak up if things aren’t going according to plan. Counsel together with love and compassion and don’t be afraid to change directions if something isn’t working.
There is No One Size Fits All Solution
As with everything else on this blog I understand that some of you are in abusive relationships, single momming, or have some other situation where this advice doesn’t work. There have definitely been times in my own relationships where I would have ignored most of what this said or been traumatized by it!
Please feel free to flush this entire post down the toilet if this is you and know that I am praying for you to be able to do the very best you can for those precious little ducklings of yours.