scoobdy's picture

Getting dad to share household duties

Both my husband and I work full-time, yet I am always the one who picks up the kids, prepares the dinner, and does most of the other household chores. How can I get my husband to do his share?  

scoobdy's picture

Hi Marti

I ask him to help and he says he will but it never really works out that way. If I ask him, can you please take care of dinner tonight, then his way of taking care of it is to order something and go pick it up. Which is fine evry now and then but not always so healthy. He does put my daughter to bed every night, so that is great. But while he is doing that I am doing the dishes and cleaning up! It's not like I am getting a break.


Christy's picture

Sometimes men need lists.

My husband and I would go 'round and 'round with that same issue. I work full time ( weekend doubles) and study for my RN during the week. My husband is a part to full time student ( depends on the type of class he has to take-  if he takes studio classes, he only goes part time).

Every Monday would be the same argument: " Why don't you help me in the house? Why can't you pick up after yourselves?" My daughter is 12 and perfectly capable of picking up after herself.

 It turns out that all he needed was a list. Although I find that rather annoying personally ( I mean, don't you see that you need to pick up your things, or that the dishes need to be washed?), I stll made him a list of everything I wanted to have done so that I could do my deep cleaning on Mondays.

Works out so much better. Now I can go right on to cleaning, instead of spending two hours every Monday morning picking up the things everyone else has left around.

Maybe you could take turns washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.? Then, the chores would be evenly distributed,and also get done more quickly, and you both could have time to relax in the evening.

Hope this helps,


angelicos's picture

I understand what you are all saying.  I am having the same issues but instead my husband works part time on the weekend and is a stay at home dad during the week to two kids, about to be three in two months.  I have made lists, made him aware of what needs to be done, etc. and still just fighting happens.  Saying that he is tired and it is hard to clean with kids at home.  Any ideas on how I can get him to help.

lisay's picture

Hey Angelicos I can totally relate to whatg you are saying. I work full time, have 3 children aged 11, 10 and 4. I have been with my partner for 7 years and he is the father of our 4 year old, my older two are from a previous marriage.  He is a bus driver so works doing a school run for 1 hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon.  The two older children are in school and the youngest goes to nursery in the mornings. He collects the older two from school and he drives the bus that brings them home, he takes our youngest with him. He does hardly anything around the house although i'll give him his due he makes the kids tea each night but not much else. I have quite a stressful job and spend all weekend washing and ironing, cleaning the house and making sure the kids uniforms are ready etc etc, do I need to go on!!!!

Anyway i've told him i'm exhaused and would appreciate some help, i leave him lists in the mornings and only occasionally does he help out. If this isn't bad enough I also have to remember to do everything, e.g. my middle child (boy) has ADHD and he never remembers to re-order his medication which means I constantly have to think about whether he needs more, I have to make sure that the bills are paid, letters posted, kids have their PE kids, packed lunches etc.

He says he doesn't sit around doing nothing all day and may cut the grass or to make it worse somebody else's grass, how do I get him to realise where the priorities lie - i'm exhaused and constantly fall asleep on the sofa at 9pm and don't feel as though I have the time or the inclination to do anything for me


happy's picture

         hi Lisa , youre discription of your family sounds like mine and alot of other women out here.I have three children also and my husband doesnt do much either around the house that is .So I had to say to myself  self he is  an excellent father  and he doesnt ask for much .I think you are fortunate that your 4 yr olds father is taking on the responsability of your other two children most men would not do that. You are the mother of hree children no one said it was easy it is your  motherly duty to take care of them however i think your 10 and11 year old need a chore list have them help you out  that way you will not have to do everything .also what I do is make time for myself on my day Igo shopping or get a massage  a pedicure or manicure you owe it to youself.Like the old saying goes :  If Mom is happy everybody"s Happy   good luck

hownaive's picture

This is a huge problem with our generation. I feel pretty lucky compared to some of my friends. It seems almost mideval the way men expect us to be their domestic slaves. I sure hope the next generation of men are taught differently. Which brings up a big question. What are you teaching your children about the roles of women and men? They are learning by watching you two. If you can't solve it on your own, go to a professional quickly before you perpetuate the tendancy.

I'm not saying I've got it figured out, but I think I had the advantage of being raised by a single mom. There was no man that sat around not doing much, so when I got married I was shocked by my husband's behavior (he was raised by a stay-at-home mom) and let him know it. We have a great relationship because we use a lot of humor in our lives, but I don't think he will ever shake the idea that I am not the same mother he had (I work full-time).  Oh well.

What I did was just stand my ground. I refuse to be the domestic slave and if he is unhappy he can hire a maid and cook. (Actually, though, he offered to hire a weekly maid and I told him that I thought that might teach our boys that it was some one else's responsibility to clean, and they would not learn to clean up themselves. This made my husband really think.)  I still clean a lot, but after 21 years of marriage I told him that that was the end of me cooking. I was just too stressed out with my very difficult job as a teacher. I wasn't putting much effort into cooking and no one was happy with my meals. My two boys and husband were in shock because they know I mean what I say. I haven't cooked in over a year. It could have been a disaster, but guess what?? My husband loves to cook. He even asked for a subscription to Cooking Light magazine for Christmas AND he actually follows the recipes. He is so much better at it than I am. He also does all the grocery shopping. (He says he gets a lot of attention from the other women shopping, so he enjoys it. ) Now, my 19-year-old son is competing with him over who is the best cook (How many of you have been reading Zits comic this week? That's my son and husband exactly.)

When my husband teases me and calls me domestically challenged because I can't seem to keep up with keeping the house too clean (2 teenage boys, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 rabbit) I just laugh. Yup. I'm not June Cleaver for sure. But my boys are learning that women have the right to living rich, interesting lives as much as they do. I don't care if the house is a wreck. If my friend calls me up and asks me to go for a bike ride, I'm going. If my husband wants to go kayaking with the boys, I'm going too!  There have been a couple weekends this spring when I never picked up the vacuum, but we had a wonderful time together.

I am concerned. I have a good friend who has a nice husband, but very "old school" as my husband calls him. It is going to be a lot harder for her. I hope it doesn't take her getting ill for him to learn to do his own laundry, shop, cook and clean. For him it is a matter of his manhood, and he will tell you that. She has a much tougher climb. My husband is not so insecure about whether or not people think he's "macho".

I would also like to add that we women should be thinking about future generations of women. I will be mad as heck if I find out my sons treat their wives like domestic slaves. They will have "hell toupee". I don't care how old they are. I am still their mother and a woman. If they are 50 and expecting their wives to wait on them hand and foot I will let them have it even if I'm 80. It is wrong, plain and simple.
hownaive's picture

I don't know if this showed up in your paper today, but its on the front page of mine. According to am 88-page report from the Pew Research Center, the 3rd most significant factor in a successful marriage is.... sharing household chores.  62% of everyone polled in 2007 said that it was "very important", compared to 47% in 1990. So, if your husband thinks you're some kind of rebel, show him the report:

You don't actually have to read all of it, if you don't have the patience, but there is a nice graphic half-way down the first page to show you how the 2,002 people responded to the 9 factors.
Giftedmom's picture

Men don't realise that they should share the housework unless they receive specific instructions. Especially those who come from families where men do NOT need to do housework. My husband is a good example.

I contributed more (in terms of house chores) to the household yet my financial contribution is comparative to my husband's.

He has been working away from home since the last few years and he's back now for good.
I had been grumbling to him (many many times)and now he asks for list of duties.

Start with small delegation if he's not the 'homely' type who's willing to dirty their hands.

I've had my struggle and still is.Now, I'm training my 2 boys (5 and 11)to lighten my burden. When Daddy sees that his boys are lending their hands, he's 'guilty' and starts to chip in. Not an overnight thing. But, changes can be seen slowly.

CarolEsse's picture

I began talking very frankly with my husband; for instance - I told him help the kids with homework or cook dinner, its your choice. He chose to help them with homework. I told him to help them with their baths/showers everynight or clean the kitchen. When I first started telling him what I needed help with one night he told me neither, I told him if he wants dinner he better choose. Now he always knows exactly what I need help with. On the other hand there have been a few times that he has told me he needs help and gives me a choice; it works both ways so be prepared to help him too.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

My husband is a great help, but he always has to be asked to do something. He was raised in a family w/ old-fashioned values, where his mother did everything. While there's something to say for that, times have changed drastically. I'm a stay at home mom, but my kids have a pretty busy schedule. Therefore, I can only do so much. The one thing my husband will always do is wash the dishes. We made a deal that if I cook, he cleans up. So far, so good. I think the more I take on, the more my husband won't do. Sometimes he's clueless to the fact that I need help, so I have to ask. I used to hate asking b/c I cldn't understand how he cld be so blind, but now I'm just used to it. If I get upset and say he shld just know these things, he tells me he's not a mind reader. So to avoid arguing, I just ask.