Let Dad Do It

I want to tread lightly here.

I believe parents are equally capable of caring for kids—of course.

I take it for granted that when 2 parents are involved both mom and dad have it in them to be great parents.

That said, I really want to encourage new moms, old moms, and tired moms to let dad do it.

I don’t mean to be condescending to dads here. I don’t mean it like, “Let your bumbling husband hold the baby sweetheart, it will make him feel good.”

Here’s what I mean: Many of my peers graduated from college and got great jobs, including me. We’re feminists and we feel pretty equal with our husbands. We had the dishes and the garbage all worked out. Then we had a baby. Some of us quit our jobs or took leave. It was the first time we found ourselves home fulfilling more traditional roles. Nothing wrong with that! It works for many and there are lots of ways to do things.

Home and family became our new sphere of influence and we took pride in it. In fact, some women who are used to working and getting validation from a career take on managing the home front with great gusto. Not me. Since having my first baby 15 years ago, I’ve been on the brink of barely holding it together. And here I still teeter, 4 kids later. I have no pride. I take help, handouts, pity, what-have-you and I don’t look back. But some people don’t. Some people find it validating to be the expert on the kids. I understand this sentiment, though I never had the fortitude  to really embrace it. Let me explain.

Sometimes it feels good to be the only one who can get the baby to sleep, or the one the kids run to when they are hurt. But if you take too much exclusive control over your home and family, I think you might be sorry some day. If you micro-manage all your husband’s efforts with the kids he might stop trying to help, and then you’re screwed.  Maybe you think you should do everything. Maybe it’s a point of pride that your husband can’t dress the kids or do their hair or make dinner as well as you. But I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is a lot to do. You need all the help you can get—whether it’s in the form of crooked pony tails, mismatched outfits, or macaroni and cheese. In my case, my husband does all of the home and parenting stuff as well, if not better, than me. I’m not very useful, but he made his choice the day we married. (Sucker.)

There is a different faction of moms who wish they had more help, but are alone or married to bums. This advice is not for you. But you have my sympathy.

But if you have a partner who is willing and able, here’s a gentle reminder of all the things he can do. The best part? Dad’s expertise doesn’t take away from Mom one bit. It just let’s her take naps every now and then.

  • Dad Can Entertain Kids in His Own Way 1 of 8
    Dad Can Entertain Kids in His Own Way
    It used to bug me when my husband would just watch YouTube videos with the kids. Now I don't care what he does with them. He's a competent guy. He knows what he's doing. It's not like I spend all my time with the kids constructively. Or any.
    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Dad Can Do Anything Mom Can Do 2 of 8
    Dad Can Do Anything Mom Can Do
    Whether it's hair, outfits, or tea parties, Dad can probably do it just as well as mom can. And why shouldn't he? Let him.
    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Dad Can Put Kids to Bed 3 of 8
    Dad Can Put Kids to Bed
    He may do it differently and not follow your routine. But so what? Treat yourself to a date with Tivo.
    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Dad Can Teach, Sooth, and Inspire 4 of 8
    Dad Can Teach, Sooth, and Inspire
    I just don't buy into gender stereotypes. Different people are good at different things, but parenting is an equal opportunity muscle that needs to be flexed every day whether you're a man or a woman.
    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Dad Can Be Patient 5 of 8
    Dad Can Be Patient
    Dad can waltz in after you've had a hard day with a fresh supply of patience. Instead of being resentful that he gets to eat out with co-workers every day, hand him the baby and go to bed. Win. Win. Zzzzzzz.
    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Dad Can Have Some of the Serious Talks 6 of 8
    Dad Can Have Some of the Serious Talks
    He may approach the topics differently than you would, but he probably has some idea what he's doing.—As much as any parent does.
    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Dad Can Do Dinner 7 of 8
    Dad Can Do Dinner
    Being a foodie is so en vogue now, your husband may be a better cook than you. And even if he's not, eat whatever he makes and be glad you didn't have to make it. I don't like cooking. Can you tell?
    Photo Credit: iStock
  • You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! 8 of 8
    You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
    Experience the joy of letting some control go. Stop micromanaging your husband and enjoy. Maybe he'll surprise you! And maybe you'll get to lie down for a few minutes!
    Photo Credit: iStock

Read more of my writing at Babble and at my blog, Every Day I Write the Book.

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