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Supacase's avatar

Easy ways for dad to help with the kids?

Asked by Supacase (14538points) March 25th, 2010

I have a friend with a 20 month-old and is due with a second child in May. Her son did not sleep through the night until he was 18 months old. She is already sleep deprived and feeling overwhelmed, so she is really worried about how she is going to manage an infant on top of things.

Her husband has been unemployed for over a year, but does very, very little to help out. She is the one who gets up at night, makes all the meals, cleans the house, changes diapers, gives baths, deals with illnesses, plays with her son, takes him to physical therapy twice a week, etc. She has no family nearby. She has NO help.

What are some very simple ways (as in he won’t have to do much more than lift a finger) he can help her out and take something off of her shoulders? She has tried talking to him and asking him, there must be another approach? I am so worried about her.

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19 Answers

ubersiren's avatar

Find a new dad? Just kidding… If this dude is unemployed, then he absolutely needs to pick up some slack. He can do bath and bed duty. That’s what my husband does, and that’s after a 10 hour work day. It’s their bonding time, you know?

She should tell him to pick up some of the load, or she will be the one leaving for work after the baby is born and he’ll have to do all of it.

partyparty's avatar

He must help with the night time feeds at least. She should start a rota, and he does the looking after the children one day, and she does the cooking, cleaning etc, and the following day you look after the chidren etc.
They are his children as well as hers and he needs to start thinking in this manner.

janbb's avatar

It’s hard not to answer your question with anger at him; it certainly seems that he should be doing at least half of the work. Perhaps they need counseling. If you really want to only suggest easy things, how about the laundry and food shopping? If he can’t manage those, he really needs to go.

Just_Justine's avatar

Sometimes mothers set a precedent that they feel they have to do all this stuff. She needs to maybe put up a roster on the fridge door so it is in writing, of who can do what when.

There are books now for “fathers” which he might enjoy reading, and might encourage him to participate. I also think preparing him now, rather than later for the new arrival will pay dividends later. Above all, people will allow you to carry on doing everything until you relinquish some of the burden.

jonami's avatar

showing her kindness is always good :) and appreciation and love….that will help a woman feel good.

Snarp's avatar

Simple? What’s simple is for him to get off his ass. He’s a bum. Changing diapers is easy, and he should do it. When the new baby comes, if she is breastfeeding he should get up when the baby cries, change the diaper if needed, and bring it to her in bed to nurse. If she’s bottle feeding he should alternate night feedings with her. If he can’t cook he can do dishes, but anyone can learn to cook. If he’s not physically incapacitated in some way, and he’s not working, and he’s not pounding the pavement looking for work, then he should be helping with the kids. Simple? Just about everything he can do to help out is simple, he just has to do it. The hard part is making him see the light.

But just looking at @Just_Justine‘s comment above, I don’t know this woman, maybe she’s set herself up for it. My sister won’t let anyone else help, even her husband. Only she can adequately hold, feed, and change the baby. Though I still don’t imagine that he can’t find some chores to do.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Ew, what an ass – she should stop making dinner for him to eat and then when he asks for it, tell him that she didn’t get to it given all the things she had to do for the day. I feel bad for her with the child on the way – life’s about to get much worse if he doesn’t grow the hell up.

ubersiren's avatar

I am so lucky to have my husband…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ubersiren it ain’t luck or at least shouldn’t be looked at as luck…this is what we should expect of our partners, no matter the gender

nicobanks's avatar

Is he depressed? Or just a royal ass? I mean, he’s not shouldering his responsibilities – is that a new thing or has he always been this way? Is this about strict gender norms – as in, he’s trying to find work, but won’t help her out in the meantime because that’s “women’s work” – or is it just irresponsibility?

I don’t think there’s an easy answer. There’s no “easy” way to help with the kids: raising kids isn’t easy. There’s no “easy” way to help keep house: keeping house isn’t easy.

This sounds like a serious problem to me, but it sounds like you’re asking for tricks. I tend not to believe in tricks. Ultimately, they’ll need to agree on how to share their responsibilities. This means having a conversation; it also means honesty, respect, and patience. Easier said than done, I know.

Step One – She should sit down and gather her thoughts:

She should list all the responsibilities that they, as a family, face – all the tasks she performs, all the chores, all the projects. She should include the few things he does do, plus the things that aren’t getting done: the list should be complete.

In a separate list, she should write down the things she likes to do for entertainment or for herself (we all need some down-time), and identify how often – if ever – she gets to do these things.

Finally, she should outline her feelings/thoughts in non-judgmental “I” statements. Not “you watch TV all day, you should help me out more,” but “I work so hard, and have so little down-time, that my nerves are shot. I’m always close to tears and I’m not as patient with the kids as I should be. I think I do more than my fair share around here, and that makes me feel taken for granted – it makes me feel sad and small and alone,” so on and so forth.

Step Two – She should instigate a conversation:

At a time when she’s (relatively) calm, when there’s (relatively) nothing to do and nothing planned, when he’s (relatively) calm, when the kids are (relatively) out of their hair, she should ask for his attention. She shouldn’t jump into the conversation. She should introduce it instead: there’s something important she wants to talk about, and she wants to know if he’s willing to listen right now. If he isn’t, they should schedule a time very soon when they will (as in, “after this show,” or “after the kids are in bed tomorrow night” – not Tuesday three weeks from now).

Step Three – They should have a conversation.

She shouldn’t expect this to be resolved in one shot. If things get emotional, overwrought, she should walk away. Not stomping, door-slamming walking away, but “I want to resolve these issues with you, but I think we need a break from them because we’re getting too emotional. I’m going to make lunch now. I’ll think about everything you said and hopefully you’ll think about what I said. We can talk about this later.”

The goal is to split up that list of responsibilities based on personal preferences, personal abilities, and compromise. You mentioned he’s in physical therapy, so maybe he can’t do the vacuuming, but what about the dusting? Maybe he hates the laundry, but what about dishes? Maybe he can’t drive himself to physical therapy, but what about the bus? Maybe he’s not a morning person so can’t do breakfasts, but what about dinners?

You get the idea.

Pandora's avatar

I’m not big on using sex as a tool, but tell her the next time he wants to fullfill his wants, she should say, sure as soon as I get mine.
Like I want to be well rested for once.
I want you to help take care of the babies you help create,
I want you to get a job,
I want a man who is a real man and knows how to meet his responsiblilies.
As soon as you can do that, you can have sex!
I say this because apparently he wants to be able to make more children without having to deal with any of the responsiblities. So one of them should be responsible and stop the cycle.

Supacase's avatar

@nicobanks I am not looking for tricks. I am genuinely trying to think of practically effortless things he can do to help. Like go through the mail. (I just thought of one!) It seems like nothing, but when piled on top of everything else it is just one more task, one more stressor.

They have had talk after talk after talk. You can only beat your head against that wall so many times. He is obviously not open to splitting the duties. There is no point in talking about all of that. She will never leave him – devout Catholic.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Supacase Well then she’s not doing the best for her children and I don’t care what she uses as an excuse but Jesus is not around to babysit, is he?

janbb's avatar

@Supacase Oy! That’s hard.

Supacase's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir So she isn’t doing the best for her children unless she leaves her husband?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Supacase It’s like this – he, as a parent, is absent – that’s strike one..she, as a parent, is exhausted (yet she’s having another child, exponentionally making it more difficult), strike two because she doesn’t demand change – people have to be adults when they’re parents, if they had children, they need to have energy to devote to their children – you can’t say ‘oh I’m catholic that’s why I can’t leave my good for nothing husband who is causing me to be stressed out’ – she is not being an optimal parent to her children because how can she be, with all the pressure for which she’s only partly to blame…so while I am sure she tries her best, given the circumstances, the circumstances can be better and religion is no reason to not change circumstances..when her children were born, they didn’t ask to be born to a devout who can’t see what needs to be done, in, in this lifetime.

YARNLADY's avatar

If having talks doesn’t help, then try a moment by moment approach.

When it’s time to change the baby, ask him to join you in the changing room, then ask him to hand her the powder, or the diaper, or maybe help hold a squirming baby.

The next time it’s time to re-fill the bottle ask him to rinse it out while you mi the formula, or hold the baby while you find his clothes. Just start with little tasks and ask – ask – ask.

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