“My husband doesn’t help”
“I am the only one getting up for baby”
“I am busy cleaning the house with baby on my hip while my partner is watching the rugby”
If I had a Stickeez for every time I heard that statement we would be the envy of every child in the country. I have, I will admit I have said many of them before. But then I got my head out of my own backside, grew up and stopped playing Sad Sally!
(I do still have the occasional moan though, which I do think is perfectly normal, I am sure my husband has one now and then too.)
So the million dollar question, how do I get my partner to help out more, or at all?
1. Stop whining about it. I can whinge and moan with the best of them but it has not once got my husband to do anything or my kids to listen or Woolworths to re-stock lactose free milk in their take away cafes. It is ineffective. People switch off. I switch off. Just last night I was at a school meeting where they were whinging, I couldn’t be bothered! So what do you do instead. Change it or accept it! You need to make the decision.
2. So lets say you have decided to change it then COMMUNICATE with your partner. I remember clearly having a fight with David in the kitchen and he said to me “Tell me what you want me to do? I really don’t know”. So I did and I still do. I don’t tell my husband what to do in demeaning, you are a clueless idiot sort of way because he isn’t. I tell him what needs to be done because sometimes he just doesn’t know. He is at work all day, he doesn’t know that there are no nappies in Emma’s bag or that I haven’t made a bottle yet or managed to put clean clothes on Jack. When we need to leave we split the stuff that needs to be done – he makes bottles, I dress Jack, he packs the car, I feed the dog or whatever it is. But we had to communicate to get to this point.
3. Make a list if you have to. We whatsapp each other schedules, shopping lists and what not. In our life right now David doesn’t know when Kiara has dancing or what time Cameron starts swimming, it is not part of his daily routine but if I need help, I ask “Please fetch Kiara at 16h45 and grab some bread from the PnP on the way”. Just because he doesn’t know doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, it just means he doesn’t need to worry about it or remember it. Write down the amount of formula each bottle needs or when baby should nap.
4. Let go. Women are often their own worst enemy, we have this assumption that we are the only ones who know how to do it, so we can’t just leave baby with Dad. Nonsense! David doesn’t do things the way I do them, he allows the kids a lot more freedom and in many ways expects a lot more from them when he is alone with them. I have learnt to let it go because that time they have together is important. So maybe the kitchen looks like a bomb hit it, the baby is still in her pjs at 16h00 or the finished 900g of cheese in one day – everyone got fed, everyone got to where they needed to be, it was just done a little differently and that is ok! Your partner has as much right as you to be a parent!
5. Respect respect respect! You are never going to get your husband, or anyone, to help if you do not treat them with respect. Demeaning your husband, shouting at him, telling everyone what a crap father he is because he doesn’t get up, is never ever going to change your situation. I am not saying never get angry, what I am saying is if you want your husband to help more, chose a time you are both calm, sit down and talk to him like your partner and try to figure it out.
You might actually find if you just ask your partner, they will actually be willing to help.
Second photo of David and Jack was taken by Catherine.