Naomi Esterly is a mom of twin boys and new baby girl. When she’s not literally juggling kids she teaches writing in her community center and does freelance work for 1800WheelChair.Com
. In this post she dishes out reason why it’s better to be a dad.
I'd really rather be a dad
I hate to say it, but I’d really rather be a dad. The fact is that dads get all the fun, and moms get all the work, questions, complaints and requests. It’s mind boggling to watch, and it’s also very frustrating. It’s not just a simple matter of mom being home and more available. This phenomenon happens even when both parents work full-time outside of the home. Here’s a few examples that may sound familiar to you, and some strategies to help you even out the fun factor in your household.
Who Does the Housework?
Stop for a minute to consider who does the housework. Most often, it’s moms who are making the meals, picking up after the kids, cleaning the house and doing the laundry. If I don’t have time to make dinner, my husband is happy to pick something up on his way home. While that’s helpful on a time-crunched night, a quick meal from the local fast food joint hardly compares to a healthy home-cooked meal. Making matters worse is the fact that he’s hailed as the returning hero for walking in the door with nuggets of processed chicken.
When we run out of clean clothes, do you think he goes and puts some in the washer? Of course not, but he does very nicely mention to me that he’s out of socks. Sometimes I say I'll do them that night, other times I ask him when his arms were broken and why he didn't tell me. As they get used to you doing all the work, they stop thinking that they need to help. I’ve been known to give him the Glare of Death for “reminding” me that the floor hasn’t been vacuumed in a while. That's usually enough to make him go, "Don't worry, it looks fine, we can do it later." Where'd that "we" come from? I don't think he knows how to turn the vacuum on.
Who’s on Homework Duty?
Dads like the homework to be done before they get in from work, but do they ever sit down and help with it? My kids swear that I’m better at reading stories because I do the cool voices, but it means that there’s more one thing on my plate. While I’m reading to the youngest, dad’s in the living room watching TV while the other kids play video games. Meanwhile, I’m the one dealing with all the homework and reminders. Yeah, I’d rather be a dad and spend my evenings wrestling with the kids instead of teaching them.
Mom, Mom, Mom, Ummm…. Mom….
This one just kills me. I can be sleeping on the couch with my husband next to me, and the children will still come up and go, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommmy.” Now, is that really necessary? It’s not like I was sleeping or anything. It’s almost as if they forget that their father exists, so I wind up with every question, concern, complaint and request under the sun – and they are usually preceded by repetitive cries of “Mommy.”
Who Wants a Movie?
When it’s time to do something fun, like go to the movie store, my husband is happy to step in and help out. Meanwhile, I’m a little too tired from all the housework, parenting and homework sessions to move, or I’m too busy getting caught up on all those chores. It’s frustrating. It’s easy to blame your spouse, and it’s easy to become bitter. However, there’s only one letter between bitter and better, and that’s “I.” There are ways to reverse this trend, and it’s better for the entire family.
Help with Household Duties
The first issue is getting dad to help you out with chores around the house. If the kids are a little older, you can even start assigning chores and get them to pitch in. Establish a rule that whoever cooks does not have to do the dishes. Around here we call it cooking duty and kitchen clean-up. It works beautifully. We also have the kids help with setting and clearing the table.
It extends from the kitchen to the rest of the house. Before you go to bed, have dad help you clean up the house. Establish a laundry pattern where the kids can help put their clothes away. In the mornings, my husband starts a load of laundry before I got up. Once I am up, it is ready to go in the dryer, and I have a jumpstart on the day.
When you sit down to discuss having your hubby help more with the chores, bring up the homework. While you are reading to one, he can be helping the other with math or science. As you get everyone involved with chores and homework, you will be less stressed and the entire family will work better together. There may be some chores that still fall on you, like the vacuuming, but they should be more evenly distributed to take some of the pressure off you.
You Have Another Parental Unit
The best thing you can do for yourself is start reminding the kids that they have another parental unit. When they come to you with questions and ignore their father who is sitting right there, just look at them and say, “You have another parental unit.” They might have to think about it for a moment, but they will eventually turn to their father and go, “Dad, Dad, Daddy, can I have a snack, go out, get the car keys?” It reminds the kids that you aren’t the only decision maker, and it reinforces to dad that he needs to step in a little more.
The worst thing you can do is get frustrated with dad and just boot him out of the house. It may seem tempting at times, but being a single parent would be even harder. Talk with your spouse and enlist his help. Don’t be bitter about the situation. Just start taking steps to improve it. The first one can be to wait until your little darlings need help with something, smile and say, “Go ask your father.”