I am blessed to have a husband who is a terrific father. He said growing up being a husband and father was the thing he looked forward to the most, and he adores our children. He will get down on the floor and play, do imagination games and every other manner of things that I tire of after a few minutes. Not only that, he is willing to help with them. But even if your husband doesn’t seem willing, here are some tips on how to help your husband help with the baby and other kids.
My husband is also a man. Which means he’s not the best multi-tasker. This is no insult, I think we can all agree that women are master multi-taskers and men do one thing well at one time, generally speaking. So often when I need him to help watch the kids he is happy to help.
However, that might also mean that when I’m finished doing whatever I was doing, I still have the same amount of work ahead of me, if not more, when I get home. Simply because he didn’t know the ins and outs of the routine. Since he is such a good dad and is willing to help, I have adopted a few ways to really get the most bang out of my buck when he is on duty.
These tips won’t help get an uninterested husband to help, but hopefully they’ll get an already interested husband helping even more effectively.
1. Lists and print-outs
Last week I spoke about how a routine keeps things sane. If I have to dip out of the routine and let someone else watch the children, those things still need to be done. So if I go out and if the things go undone at home, by the time the day is over I’ve done twice the work. I’ve created some fun and easy printables (like these) to hang by the children’s bed and in strategic places around the house.
I made them pretty and hang the with washi tape and act like they are part of the decor. This way when my husband is happily helping he actually has some sort of general idea what we normally do. Does he have to follow it? Of course not! Does he want to follow it? For the most part, yes. Even my husband, a more go with the flow type, finds that the day just floats around if there is no plan.
2. Take some of their load
There are times when you just want someone else to watch your offspring so you can go be alone. Or be with other people. Not including your offspring. Since we live far from home and we are too cheap to hire a babysitter, we often either bring the kids with us or do small things solo while the other spouse watches the children. If he is willing to watch the kids for a morning, but it will mean that he didn’t get some other things done, then sometimes it’s worth it to me to do those things for him.
I’ll run the errand or mow the lawn, etc. Sometimes it’s worth it to me to clear his schedule (of the things that I can do for him) so that he can freely and easily watch the kids without worrying he’s missing something. It makes the time spent with them more fun and gives me some leeway to have some alone time to rejuvenate.
3. Learn from him
This is hard for me. I’m an ENTJ which means that I think I know everything and am generally self-confident and independent. Add to that the fact that watching the children is my “job” and, well, you can imagine that I pretty much think I got the monopoly on best practices. However, I actively try to remain teachable in all areas of life and since my husband and I are pretty much polar opposites, I have a lot to learn by way of balance from him.
If I over-routinize him then the house can just get stressful. I watch him sometimes just sit with our son or daughter and play a wooden game for 20 minutes and I am amazed. How- HOW – can he concentrate on a game with a son who can’t yet talk for twenty minutes? How? Well, he can do it because his mind isn’t on the 5,358 other things he has yet to do. By learning from him and verbally valuing his contribution, though it is different from mine, he is encouraged to continue being a good father. Affirmation works, people.
4. Prepare beforehand
Have you read the quote that says “The pantry is full of ingredients, but there’s nothing to eat!” Well, that’s my husband. If it has to be mixed, stirred or otherwise cooked then he feels there is nothing to eat. Since he generally does the bigger kids breakfast routine (as I’m feeding our newborn in this phase of life) it is helpful if I put things out for him. I don’t know how many times he’s said “What can they eat?” I go and there are about 355 things to eat.
If you put out bowls, cereal, grits or whatever else is for breakfast (or whichever meal it may be) then they can pull it together quickly. If your husband needs to get the children dressed (and you are the type who believes certain colors and patterns don’t actually match) then it might behoove you to set out their clothes the night before. I’ve just finished making clothespins to implement this system. The easier you make it the more they’ll be able to just relax and have fun with the kids.
My husband is a smart man, so this is not meant to somehow diminish men’s capabilities. He is a great dad and is always willing to go the extra mile for the kids. These are ways that I can help him (which in turn, helps me). There will be days when the kids and him do whatever their hearts desired and I’ll come home to a crazy mess. That’s fine. There are times when he is so busy playing and laughing with the kids that he forgets dinner I set out and decides to order pizza. That’s fine too. A present father is an ever-diminishing phenomenon in our society, and I think we should truly value their input and willingness to help.
Each of us have our own personality, temperament, and giftings. And, the truth is, we parent best when we work with these instead of against them. Take this assessment so you can work to your strengths, and be the mom you want to be for yourself and your children.
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