I was recently out of town on a business trip for four days. That meant my husband, Rob, was left alone to handle the typical cooking, cleaning, transporting and general care of our three children, who are 11, 11 and 10.
Believe it or not, everything and everyone remained intact when I returned home. Not having mom around for the week certainly altered the typical ways of life in our household, but everyone survived. The house was still standing, and the kids didn’t stink. Win-win, right?
I admit, sometimes I find myself thinking if things aren’t done in a particular fashion or at a particular time, then chaos might ensue inside my house. I don’t think I’m alone here. Moms, are we unnecessarily putting this type of pressure on ourselves to hold everything together? Do we really need to carry around this mental load all the time? Is this something we hold on to because we can’t let go of the control? What makes us believe that only moms can be superheroes in the home? What about dad?
I suppose traditional values and roles have a lot to do with it. But 2020 is fast approaching, and with so many moms working full-time jobs outside of the home, it’s time we learn to better co-parent. We can let go of some of that control by inviting our husbands to become more involved. I know my husband cherishes the opportunities he has to impact our kids’ lives, and I love watching him thrive in that setting.
Here are some tips for you to better share your parenting responsibility:
1. Communicate with your spouse. Let him know the “mental lists” you are constantly carrying. Ask for help. He is more than capable and wants to be an active leader of the home. But don’t assume he knows what you are thinking; he is not wired the same way you are. Discuss with him how to manage the kids and his input on how to discipline the kids. Being on the same page will be important when enforcing consequences and being consistent with the kids.
2. Create a schedule to follow. Fill out all the appointments and events for the week. Make a meal plan with the whole family. Make sure to take turns running kids to their appointments and going to the grocery store. Have the whole family take turns with meal prep for the night. It could be fun to have each member pick out and make a recipe at least once a month. My twin daughters have recently discovered they really enjoy cooking, and I am so thankful it gives me time to connect with them.
3. Take a vacation. Even if it’s just for a day. Get away from trying to do it all and let dad take a shot at being the superhero. Don’t overthink it. Let dad decide how to manage the week or the day without a bunch of “to do” lists you’ve provided for him. He is perfectly capable and hopefully you will return well rested and realize how supported you are.
I cannot be at my best if I am doing it all, I’m so thankful for Rob and the days when he steps up to be the super dad my family needs. I’m off to follow my own advice by planning my next girls trip — maybe to wine country or the beach. No matter where I end up, I know my family will be in great hands!
Sarah Simms is the manager of Outreach and Admissions at Boys Town. She has a master's degree in community counseling, and has been with Boys Town for 21 years. Her hobbies include spending time with her family, reading, being active and watching sports — specifically Husker football and Creighton basketball.