A fellow working mom posted this article in one of my Facebook mommy groups. Published in The Wall Street Journal, the article discusses how even though men and women now spend equal time in the workforce, their time spent on home tasks is still divided pretty unevenly. One mom echoed my sentiments exactly:
She didn’t really care that her husband did the dishes after dinner. Sure, it was swell of him, and she had friends whose husbands did less. But what she really wanted, at that point in her day, was for her husband to volunteer to put the kids to bed.
Until my second baby girl was born six months ago, my husband and I did split the hours worked in a week fairly evenly. My job, however, had much higher stress levels, a greater level of responsibility, and a (slightly) higher pay scale.
However, due to our hours, 4 weekdays a week out of 5, my workday ended with picking my daughter up and driving her home. It also started with dropping her off 2 days per week as well.
Let me tell you, there is nothing better after a stressful day than spending 45 minutes in the car with a screaming baby/ toddler.
I would then get home, feed, bathe, and get my daughter ready for bed. My husband would waltz in, play, and then she would go to sleep.
Now, my husband is more childcare oriented than many fathers. We trade night waking, he changes diapers, and my girls have “Daddy Day” each week when I work and Daddy is home. He even spent an evening in the NICU with my first feeding her expressed breast milk so I could recover for an evening.
But we have had these same breaks in labor as well. Sunday would come, our only family day, and my husband would want to rake the yard, or run errands. Alone.
I finally was able to communicate to him that no, shampooing all the rugs was not what I needed from him on the weekends. I need him to take care of the kid-now kids.
We really struggled with this. But now, things are different most of the time. Here is why: I went on vacation alone prior to the birth of my second child. And by vacation, I mean five days.
I recommend this.
Instead of coming home to dinner and a bathed and fed child, Daddy was it. He did both ends of pick up and drop off, worked a full day, had to come home and just keep on keepin’ on. You know. Like I did, every day.
Nothing can beat experiential learning for spouses. He finally “got” it.
Also shocking about the vacation experience-the number of people-and not just random people, people who know us-who asked me, “What will he DO while you are gone with your daughter?”
Ummm, you know, be her parent.
There are still times he defaults to old ways. Expectations are still often lopsided. Also, I do make sure he gets down time. Especially now that I am home with the kids 75% of the time, he now understands when I say, “I’ll scrub the bathtub. Chase the children.”