For many moms, they are requested by their children for just about everything. Just the other day, I felt like my head was about to explode when my eldest insisted on showing me something and wanted me to stop everything that I was doing immediately. Then my youngest started to have a meltdown and wanted me to carry her. Where is dad at that moment? He was no where to be seen. I was so flustered, and started to yell for dad. Of course, dad emerged and started to ask why I was so upset. Shouldn’t he know why though? I quickly realized that he probably didn’t know.
The thing is, you work a full-time schedule, and so does your husband. Therefore, it makes sense for both parents to work as a team when parenting and to complete household chores. Dads don’t really have an excuse to be less involved nowadays. Moms should not be expected to put the kids to bed, clean the entire house and work a full-time schedule too. However, as moms, sometimes we communicate what we want the wrong way, and because of that, dad withdraws and then everything falls on mom again.
So, what are some effective ways to get dad more involved at home?
1. Approach dad according to his personality
What worked with your brother-in-law might not be the right approach to get your husband to be more proactive at home. It’s important to realize that every man is different, so approach your husband according to his personality.
There are probably 3 different kinds of man – some intentionally want to minimize their workload around the house by acting oblivious, some are truly oblivious and some do what needs to be done without asking. Whichever kind your husband belongs to, be sensitive while you approach him for help.
2. Communicate openly and frequently, and be specific
When asking your husband for help, be specific. Instead of just saying, “please help out with some chores at home”, explicitly lay out your expectations.
Sometimes, husbands are really clueless when it comes to these things. They might think putting away the dishes and wiping down the table are enough, but you might have expected something different.
Sometimes, they just think that you have everything under control and that you don’t need any help. In this case, communication is key to run a home smoothly. Tell your husband how are you feeling. If he isn’t doing enough, tell him, but do it objectively so that he doesn’t feel like you are attacking him. Make it a point to communicate openly and frequently.
3. Make a list
For those who are truly oblivious to the amount of work that needs to be done as parents or deal with chores at home, it will help tremendously if you can make a list. This list will help to put things in perspective. More often than not, once I made a list to show that we have many things to tackle, my husband gladly jumped at the chance to help carry some of the load.
4. Make a chore chart for everyone in the family
If your husband is a more visual guy, this might help. By laying out everyone’s responsibilities and displaying it prominently for all to see, there is really no excuse for dad not to do it.
For example, in our house, we have chore chart on the kitchen fridge for all to see. Names are listed next to the tasks, and there is another column for a checkmark to be placed once the chore has been completed. Our kids are also involved with simpler tasks like keeping their toys.
5. Divide the duties, don’t delegate
No one likes to be bossed around. We are supposed to be partners when co-parenting our kids. Therefore, instead of delegating all the work, discuss who is doing what, and make sure to divide duties evenly. That way, you are engaging your husband positively. For example, in our house, dad bathes and showers the kids, and mom is in charge of drying the kids and dressing them in pajamas.
Consider rotating chores so that no one feels stuck with one duty all the time.
6. Give a little push
It’s important to realize that no one likes to be nagged at. Therefore, moms, be tactful in your approach. Give dads a little push by saying something like, “Honey, my back is killing me. I don’t think I can vacuum the floor and do the laundry every week. Would you mind taking over this chore and vacuum the floors?”.
A gentle approach is so much more effective than nagging. Men usually respond in a positive way when given a little nudge in the right direction. If you keep pestering dad with discussions on how much you really need him to step up his game, he might shut down and stop communicating altogether.
7. Call in external help
Sometimes, it takes an outsider to make your husband realize that he really needs to step up. If dad refuses to help with cleaning, perhaps you could call a cleaning company to come by your home, and give you a quote for deep-cleaning services. Make sure your husband is home when you are doing your walkthrough. Once he hears that it will cost you $500 a month for someone to step in to do what he could have been doing all along, he will be more likely to help out.
8. Trust your husband
As moms, sometimes we tend to control a little too much. If we have decided to let dad take care of the kids for the day, just let him do it his way. Don’t be too quick to jump in to “fix” things when he seems like he can’t handle it. Let dad figure it out. He might take longer to soothe your crying baby initially, but by letting him take his time, he is learning how to refine his skills. He will figure out what to do next time to calm your baby down more quickly.
9. Purposefully leave the kids with dad
Every evening, I would leave the kids with dad for about an hour so I can take my shower and get some things done. Our kids know that this is the time with dad. Both dad and kids get to bond so that dad can get the chance to understand kids better too.
By doing so, our kids are totally comfortable spending time with dad, and it gives me some quiet time to catch up on my other obligations.
10. Adjust your expectations
My husband is definitely not a homemaker. He takes twice as long to prepare our food, and folds our laundry at a slower pace. However, he still does an excellent job. The food he prepares are just as tasty and the clothes he folds are actually neater. Dad is more meticulous, so he takes twice the time with everything. Over the years, I have learned to accept it although I would have preferred for things to get done quicker. After all, the goal is here to get the tasks done, so I have learned to adjust my standards.
11. Show your gratitude
Sometimes, all it takes is for us to say thank you. My husband feels appreciated whenever I say it. We shouldn’t take each other for granted. As they say, treat others the way you want to be treated. The more gratitude I show, the more likely my husband would want to reciprocate.
Men and women often have very different ideas on how to parent, and about the chores that need to be done in order to keep your household operating smoothly. Hopefully, by following the strategies above, you will be able to encourage dad to be more involved at home. If everyone helps out and pull their weight, things will run smoother and it will make the whole parenting thing so much easier.