Harriet over at Plan B, wrote a really interesting post about how far would you trust your husband and as with all great posts, it really got me thinking. She referenced the post from The Guardian I about being a foundation parent and the fact that woman remain the foundation parent in the household and how this is very 1950’s.
The reason it got me thinking is how very different to my life it is. I was a stay at home mom when the boys were small. we made sacrifices and returned back to our native North East of England so that I could remain at home and be the boys primary caregiver and influencer and look after them during the day, however, this has never meant that I am in sole charge of them and the house and when MadDad steps back through that door he takes on more than his fair share of the work.
When the boys were small he was always in charge of reading, bathing and bedtime, giving me breathing space from a day on my own with one or both of the boys. In addition, he has always done half of the home type tasks, including the bins, dishwasher, garden etc and even does the washing too. Every weekend I get a lie in and often he will make sure that other things are taken care of. He will dress the boys, feed them, pop the washer on, do the breakfast pots and ensure that the house is tidy before cracking on with a game with the boys.
We are a partnership and always have been, this has just become stronger since the boys were born. I learned very early on that I needed to keep my lips glued together and resist the urge to say, let me change that nappy I can do it faster and let MadDad get on with things, I lowered my expectation of him and the way he did things in the early months, but soon he was doing things faster and if not better than me certainly to a similar standard, just in a different way. It has continued on in this manner as the boys have grown. He comes home each night to a cooked meal and we sit and eat together as a family and discuss our day, but from then till bedtime he is in charge of the boys, he deals with PJ’s, book reading and we do bedtimes together.
We have rules and we both stick to them. We discuss the way that we parent and what we expect of each other and we are always honest with each other. He is a fab dad and a great husband and yep maybe the boys shirts and trousers are not what I would have picked myself, but they always go to bed with their teeth cleaned and a bedtime story. So for me it is a matter of priorities. We split the chores and each try and do what we do best, thankfully we complement each other more so now after over 17 years together. But the other thing is we talk, we set realistic expectations of each other and I have learned that he is a man and he will do things differently and often feel the need to be praised. So I follow my boys are like dogs plan and I use it on Maddad too (but don’t tell him), lots of praise, reward and good food, oh and lots of exercise too!
So my top tips for sharing the load
- Don’t be a mummy martyr, yes you could do it faster and possibly better, but by letting him learn his way, he will be more likely to do it.
- Be flexible, your way is not necessarily the only way or the best.
- get your priorities straight, is it key that certain t shirts go with certain trouser, if it is get them out the night before, otherwise learn which battles you need to win to win the war.
- Set realistic expectations, do you expect 2 stories to be read each night, if so, say so.
- Learn that it is often about short term pain for long term gain.
- Talk and listen. Make sure you are both clear on what your expectations are.
If you find it hard to keep your mouth shut and let your husband do these things whilst you are about, then make sure you go out and give them the opportunity to get on with things without criticising. In the long run, it is better to have a fair and equitable relationship. I am not my husbands slave or the boys for that matter, we are a family and for us that means mucking in together and all giving and participating as much as we can.
So how does it work in your house?
I can relate to this so much. I am a SAHM and very particular about how things are done. So much so that my husband thinks I have OCD.
I do feel that my way is the best way and that I can do things much better and faster than my husband so I do end up being a martyr and doing it all myself.
He does his share of looking after the children when he’s home and he used to do all the washing up but I now do it as it’s my half an hour shut away in the kitchen away from the children!
He does all the ironing though as he is much better at that than I am and I just hate doing it.
I need to let go and realise that it’s not that important if things aren’t done MY way, it’s more important that the children are happy, fed, and relatively clean!
Thanks for posting this.
Great post Jen, I think we must be sharing the same husband ! No wonder they got on well at the teaparty.
Its so refreshing to read about marriages that are actually working and are a true partnership.
Good for you and your lovely family. xxxx
It must be lovely to have someone to share the load. As a single Mum I’m afraid everything falls on my shoulders…not that I’m complaining, I think that I’m a bit of a control freak anyway.
Seriously though it can be hard going and trying it fit everything in and hold down a number of jobs, well what can I say it’s tough!
I would have never been a single parent through choice, I didn’t plan it this way, it just happened, I am the type of person however who just gets on with things, I’m not a moaner (well I hope I’m not). I do have a good family who help me out so much, so I count my blessings there.
My boys are getting bigger now so they are a great help and I am making sure that they know how to cook, iron, clean ect..after all they may be someone’s Husband one day!
What a great post. I’m lucky that my OH is very capable when it comes to looking after the children. He copes much better than I do when he has them on his own and takes them out a lot more than I do solo. He took them canoeing for the whole weekend last week, did I mention? x
Excellent advice…especially the mummy martyr bit! I am a mummy martyr…definitely! I’m an SAHM too and shared my feelings on that score in my Dear Hubby post! I also shared how everyone coped in this house (Taking It Easy)when I was sick for two weeks! Mixed results on that score. I do refuse to do outside chores though. If I EVER mow the lawn I know that I’ll always be expected to do it so I plead complete ignorance of our petrol mower and have done so successfully for 14 years!!
I know I am lucky with my hubbie (but maybe not as lucky as you Jen, he sounds fab!). My man is not so great with ther household chores will brilliant with our kids. All I have to do is ask if I want/ need something else but I do not find that too easy!
I have learn that important lesson about letting dh make his own mistakes and do tasks in his own way rather than me trying to dictate them.
Great post, Mich x
Can I borrow your husband? 😉
To be fair, Big M works very long hours, making it impossible to take over bed- and bathtime more than once a week. And in the beginning, when little L was very little, I just couldn’t let go. I am much better now, and I don’t mind anymore (ok, I don’t mind that much anymore) when things are done differently.
At some weekends, I have to actively take a step back and just let them get on with life. Like last weekend- I went away to spend some time alone. Which was blissful. And both husband and little L survived! 🙂 xx
Thanks for the link and glad you enjoyed the post!
It’s interesting because I set out to write a post about exactly what you called yours: why isn’t his best good enough? and why is it that we, the women, seem to set ourselves (and by extenstion our menfolk) such high standards… I’m not sure I’ve actually achieved that, but it’s certainly got me (and others) thinking!
I have to admit though, that it was rather unfair on B – especially, as he pointed out on a day when he’d already done the washing up, hung out the washing, compiled a shopping list, gone to Tescos and bought it, all without being asked!
But I do think it’s interesting that even you, with clearly (like me) a brilliant husband, say that things aren’t always done to the standard you would like. Why is that? Because I think we both realise that these things – what trousers he buys, whether the children’s books are alphabetised (ok, that last is a joke, but you know what I mean) – really don’t matter at all and the love and support and hanging out of the washing unasked, are much more important!
I just suspect that I, at least, am still trying to attain some unreachable target of perfection – that I will be judged as a “bad mother”, if their clothes aren’t ironed, or their beds not made every day. When I suspect that the only person who is judging me on that is, in fact… me.
@Harriet: For me parenting became so much more fun when I stopped trying to be perfect. Being Happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect, It means that you have decided to look beyond the imperfections.
I honestly don’t understand people who don’t trust their husbands to look after their children. Mine doesn’t do things the way I do, thank God. I didn’t marry my own clone or even a mindless drone.
He may drive me to distraction when he dries the dishes with the hand towel or his hands with the dish towel, but no one has died because of it (yet).
Low standards is the way to go.
Imagine what the world would be like if fathers distrusted mothers to look after the children too. Complete stasis. Sitting around, looking at each other all day, every day.
Sharing, realistically is so true! Great post. Dxx
I think this may be one of the nicest posts i’ve read in a long while. Its lovely to hear how your hubby shares the load. I am really guilty of being a martyr I know I am and my hubby really does try hard. I think we both need a little bit of training… 😉
I’ve always let my hubby get stuck with the tasks if he wants to but even though he loves the children he leaves everything to me unless i ask. He does watch all 5 after i’ve done a night shift for a couple of hours but apart from that i take the lead and he’s backup x
I commented on Plan B’s post too: it got me thinking. You are absolutely right that you have to let them get on with it. Having a friend whose husbanddoesn’t do very much at all around the house, I am learning to be more grateful for the things that he does, even if they aren’t done the way that I’d do them.
Great post Jen. I really like your advice too. I’m currently reading a book to review called Shattered based on this principle. It’s an interesting one and sometimes I don’t think I do myself any favours by taking on the majority of the load – sometimes I wonder if I have done this to the exclusion of allowing my husband to help more. Interesting and thought provoking – everything a good blog post should be.
Great post. I follow the ‘children and husbands are like dogs plan’ too. My husband always did his fair share before we had children and hasn’t changed fortunately!
Well said. I’m another one abides by the children are like dogs rule and so far it’s working for me (though apparently I’m not meant to put the baby in the kennel!).
My partner does at least, if not more than 50% of the household chores as well as working full time.
I know people will say that he should be doing his share and that I shouldn’t praise him for just doing what is right, that a woman doesn’t get praised for doing more than her share, but I think it comes down to individual families.
I make sure I thank my husband all the time. He could use the “my mates don’t do anything so I’ll stop” excuse and I really don’t want that to happen.
Hubby “Leave the dishes, I’ll do them in a bit”
Me “Oh thank you”
Hubby falls asleep on the sofa and I’m stuck doing them the next morning. Regularly. Drives me up the wall. I now ignore all offers to ‘do things later’ if it’s something I want to get done that evening rather than being left until the next day.
I have to request anything I want doing and usually end up sending him to sit down halfway through because he’s so tired, poor flower.
Of an evening, I usually cook, put DD to bed (that has to be me as she still feeds to sleep), wash up, do at least one load of washing and hang it out. He watches TV. Grrr.
If you have a husband who mucks in willingly cherish him and realise how lucky you are!
MrsWhite » I realise I am a lucky lady and am trying to make my boys do as much as their Daddy