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Hey Husband, If You Really Want To Be Helpful, Here’s How

Photograph by Twenty20

You know that friend’s husband who always seems so helpful and on the ball with his kids? Well, I’m married to that guy. You know how I know I’m married to that guy? Because he tells me all the time how helpful and on the ball he is with his own kids.

Let's be honest, being great with one’s own kids is an expectation, not an accomplishment. No mom gets rewarded for simply taking care of their own children. Nor do we ask for acknowledgement when it comes to raising our kids. But for some reason, the non-primary caretaker of the kids usually sees their help with their own family as just that—help.

My husband does. He loves our kids and wants to be involved, but he also sees his help as a support to me. I love that, but it's not what I really need.

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If he really wants to be supportive, then he’s going to have to do—or not do—these simple things:

Don’t Ask If I Need Help, Just Help!

If you see that chaos has ensued in the house or I’m up to my knees in laundry, roll up your sleeves, and get in there without asking. No mom has ever said, “No, I’ve got this covered. You go relax!” So it’s safe to say your help will be welcome and wanted.

Clean Up After Yourself.

It’s bad enough I have to clean up after capable children, don’t make me pick up after you too. Remember, I live here. I’m not on the payroll.

He’d never do half the job at work, so don’t do half the job at home either.

Finish The Job.

My husband notoriously washes half the dishes before getting bored and moving on to something else. That’s lovely for him, except I have to finish the jobs he doesn’t. He’d never do half the job at work, so don’t do half the job at home either.

Don’t Treat My Work As A Hobby.

For many of us work-at-home moms, our workday gets squeezed into the tiny amount of hours our children are in school. Sometimes we need weekends or evenings to catch up, which means the partner taking over with the kids during that time. That also means realizing when Mom is working, she’s working. That means a quiet work space and uninterrupted work time just like Dad gets at the office.

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Don’t Remind Me How Helpful You Were.

It’s a little less helpful if you remind me all the time how helpful you were. They’re your kids. It’s your house. Thanks for pitching in, but you live here too. It’s your job.

If You’re Giving Me Time Off, Then Really Do It.

I’m usually the parent on duty in the morning, but occasionally I’m exhausted and need to catch up on some sleep. My husband is always willing to take over, but he’ll let the kids run wild (i.e. be crazy loud), or come in and out of my room 400 times waiting for me to get up. So if he’s giving me time off, I really want the time. That means he takes over and I’m not interrupted.

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