Back when we first got married, I quickly realised that sharing the household chores was a potential landmine as Alexis and I had such differing opinions on how to get things done. I’m hardly one you’ll label an OCD but when you have someone who questions why your hangers must all go in one direction and why it’s necessary to fold clothes a certain way, more specifically my way, I almost wanted to tell him to leave it all to me.
But that would be foolish. Very, very foolish.
After all, we have agreed to share the household chores as a dual working couple. Plus, is it that big of a deal if he does things differently from me as long as the task gets done?
Rule #1. Pick your battles wisely.
Pick your battles wisely. And in this case, he chose right because he cleverly picked out tasks that can be outsourced, like with his irobot and his robot vacumn cleaner. Nicely played…
Fast forward to today, I’m relieved that I have not allowed the differences in our household responsibilities to divide us. But these lessons took time, quarrels and even fights over the years to be ironed out, and ultimately I recognised Alexis’s need for space and freedom to do things his way.
The same can be applied to parenting as well.
The mental load that mums refuse to let go
Much has been shared about the invisible mental load that mums have on their shoulders. This feeling of disproportionate responsibility that mums have to be on top of their family schedule, their household tasks, meals, etc. And because of that many mums are simply tired, over stretched and stressed …
The disproportionate responsibility borne by women are making mums feel tired, over stretched and stressed.
As a mum, I definitely felt it more acutely when I switched from being a working mum to a stay home mum. After all, it only seemed “fair” to assume more parenting responsibilities, freeing my husband to concentrate on his career as the sole bread winner. Perhaps it’s a similar situation in your family too.
But something happened.
For the past one month, I saw how Alexis stepped up as a dad in so many ways while I was recuperating at home from my surgery.
Since the start of the year, Alexis would wake up half an hour earlier in the mornings to prepare Sophie for school, make her breakfast, pack her lunch box, ensure that she has pocket money and walk her to school. In fact on the first day of school, he even wrote Sophie a note for her lunch box which she’s proudly pinned up on her cupboard.
Two weeks into the routine, he decided that Sophie is capable of getting ready herself. So he suggested that she plan her breakfast and recess and get them ready the day before. This way, it cuts down the rush and frustrations in the morning.
A pretty neat hack, I must say, while teaching Sophie to be responsible for herself.
Getting dads to man up
The truth is, even the most hands-on dads can sometimes slip into their comfort zone because we mums have it all covered. After all, we are the multi-tasking machines who can compartmentalise our brains into a hundred and one folders for home, work, household, meals, parties, etc and yes, we sometimes want to be in control all the time.
And like my earlier story about the household chores, if we wives get so hung up about how our spouse should be a dad and nitpick no end about their parenting (or maybe even lack thereof) and inability to do the chores our way, we may push them further away from being the dad they want to be despite their best intentions.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:9
If you’re feeling exhausted and hope to get your husband to step up as a dad, why not ask for help?
Here are 3 tips on how to get your husband to help.
But before anything else, here’s what you must first do, extend forgiveness.
Let go of the past and forgive.
That means not digging up what should have, could have been in the past and not using them against him because this is bound to be a recipe for disaster. Rather start a clean slate and talk about how you can both work out a better plan going forward.
- Be explicit
Men don’t get hints very well, so instead of telling him to clean the house, be specific and let him you mean the kitchen, the toilet, the bedroom, etc.
Better still, make a list and split the chore so he’s crystal clear on his responsibilities. Make it visual by pinning it up and if your hubby slips up, remind him. Don’t assume that he doesn’t care, maybe he really forgot and just needs a little nudge.
- Rephrase how you ask
It’s a fact that men don’t like their ego bruised and nobody responds well to nagging. When we are desperate for help, we may raise our voice, use sarcasm or even huff and puff hoping that they catch the hint. Here’s when you should refer to #1 again and be specific in your request.
Besides what we say, it’s really all in the tone of our voice which can either compel or repel. We definitely respond better when someone asks nicely, so try that.
- Show appreciation
Yipe men do like their ego stroked, so where appreciation is warranted, show it and be sincere about it. Yes your hubby may just be finally pulling his share of the weight around the home, but everyone appreciates positive reinforcement.
Oh and remind him happy wife, happy life.
PS: Forward this to your man, and get that conversation started.
If you enjoyed this post, you may like these posts where I share about marriage and relationship.
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