I’m blessed to have a husband who enjoys spending time with our children. He’ll take them out for walks, to movies, and do all the kid chores that usually get thrust solely upon on mothers because it’s assumed our responsibility. The “mom duties.” While this all just a part of the job as a parent, to some, this is an amazing thing. For a father to, you know, PARENT. But I’ve had enough of people saying dads are babysitting instead of doing what moms are – parenting.
Once I was enjoying a mani – pedi and as I sat perusing my Pinterest for snazzy nail art, the tech asked, “Where are your kids?” Not a strange inquiry, she knows I’m a mom and married so I replied, “Oh, with my husband.” It’s what she said next that sent me into a twitter finger rampage. “Aww, how nice he’s babysitting.”
My back tensed up. I lifted my eyes slowly up from my telephone curtly answering, “No, he’s watching his children. He’s being a parent.” She laughed, almost mockingly, like “yeah, girl sure. Whatever you say.” And it was in that moment I realized, society really has mothers f*cked up.
We need to cease falling victim to that sexist thought.
Are fathers not parents? Why aren’t mothers ever babysitting? Why is it assumed that mothers will pick up all matters concerning children? That they will handle everything needing to be done, from carpool to dirty diapers and school projects? I’m here to drop the hammer on that trite point of view. The time has come to let mothers out from underneath the weight of having to do everything while Dad gets to “babysit” occasionally.
As a mother who runs a multitude of businesses, I have a lot on my plate but never in the midst of an email flurry do my responsibilities as a mother falter. I manage to handle everything in stride. I find that this expectation isn’t put onto fathers in the same way. They aren’t expected by their employers, colleagues, or even the nail lady apparently; to lend a helping hand. My husband and I have had this discussion at length when he once commented to me that his boss expected him to be working if he was at home – not taking care of his baby. My response was, “He knows you have kids – so does he. Both of you should expect to care for them,” and I passed him the baby while I went to the bathroom.
This is no slight to either of them because by and large this is just the natural way in American culture. Rather than continuing to encourage this thinking it is time for a paradigm shift. Here are three ways dads can step up to the plate so the moms in their life really can do it all.
Encourage her to get out weekly and do something on her own:
Whether your wife or partner enjoys working out, happy hour, or the weekly visit to get pampered – make sure she gets it. Give her a chance to unwind without being concerned about if anybody has had a bath or their laundry is done. This time away from kids and duties can be rejuvenating and can bring her home relaxed and in a greater mood.
Surprise her by handling a task normally on her to-do list:
We all know there is tons to be done on the daily, welcome to adulthood. Dinner, lunches, meetings at work, and so on and so forth. You can be a help by taking one thing off of mommy’s hands. Instead of asking what’s for dinner every day at 5pm, take on one or two days where dinner is your responsibility. Order in or keep it simple. Look harder for the socks, straighten up the house, the point here is just to make her day a little less hectic. Whatever you can do to achieve that? Handle it.
Teach children to ask Dad for things too:
This is likely something that many people don’t even realize is happening. Your kids come asking permission to do something and your reply may naturally be, “Let’s ask Mommy” or “Go ask your mother.” I get it, you don’t want to be wrong if you say yes and then mommy dearest gets you for the blunder. But what I’m referring to here is teaching your kids not run to mom for help FIRST all of the time. Let them know that you’re just as capable to get juice, cut a hangnail, or grab a toy. Encourage them to rely on you just as much as they do her.
My hope is that more parenting relationships are balanced and that mothers are given the opportunities to be more than just what their children need. Instead of situations calling for 50/50, let’s start aiming for 100/100. Every party giving their all, all of the time.
I hope you dads out there realize that you’re more than just a show horse, that you can do it just as well as any mom. Don’t let someone laud you for “babysitting” your kids, tell them – “Nah, I’m a father, I’m doing my job.”