What Dads Do

“Look, we’re both afraid we’re going to kill the baby, that’s a given, but we made and agreement this week – Monday to Friday I try not to kill him, Saturday and Sunday you try not to kill him, yeah.”

– Miranda to Steve, Sex and the City, Series 5 Ep 3, Luck Be An Old Lady

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for how much Dad 101 contributes to our household.  Since Immy started eating solids, he has always made every effort to be home in time for dinner even when that provokes the frowns of colleagues.  Since Immy was born, bathtime has been their thing, their time together. Since she stopped breastfeeding, story and bedtime are more often than not daddy-daughter time as well. Swimming lessons have always been scheduled for weekends so that they can develop an interest together. He cooks on weekends, irons his own workshirts, and mops floors and hangs washing (though the latter two only with prompting 😉 ). And yes, he does have a fulltime job. And yes, he does often make different parenting choices and decisions than I would.

When we both worked we shared the home duties. When I was mastering newborn-wrangling in a sleep deprived haze, it continued. Now I work from home and we still share the responsibility for our household and child raising. And although I know that he would sometimes rather be fishing in the evenings (as I would rather be sitting poolside sipping cocktails in an exotic, resort location), we both realise that these days are limited. In the blink of an eye they will pass and our daughter will be a teenager who would rather hide in her room listening to ear splitting music and talking on the phone to her friends than spending time with her parents.

So it is interesting that two lots of recent research about Dads, child rearing and home life (report one here (found via Mamamia) and article two here) include some important messages for Mums;

1. If you want Dad to help, you have to just let it go and let them do it their way. It’s the only way it works!

2. Fathers need time to solo parent as it improves both the children’s and Dad’s sense of well being, and Dad’s parenting skills.

3. The more time Dad’s spend alone with their children makes for closer father-child relationships.

An important reminder for all mamas (and papas), I think.

How do you share child rearing and household responsibilities in your home?


  1. I so agree with point number 1. You can’t expect your partner to help if you spend the whole time telling them they are doing everything wrong.

    By the way – your man sounds amazing… I am impressed by any man that irons!

  2. I am very lucky to have a husband who does a lot around the house. As well as all the outdoor things (ie mowing, looking after the pool etc) he willingly helps me with vacuuming, washing dishes and clothes and pretty much anything else that needs doing. He has especially been wonderful over the last two months as we have a 7 week old little boy!!
    He also is wonderful with our son and I know he will continue to be a hands on Dad!
    I do have to remember to let him do things his way and not worry about it!

    1. I forgot to mention that he always irons his own clothes (and sometimes mine too)- something that my Mum doesn’t understand! 🙂

  3. I just found this blog last week and I am so thrilled I did – I love everything about it! As a teacher and parent to two young girls, I am SO ‘on board’ with the whole play-based learning philosophy.
    Regarding this post, I agree 100% and am also blessed to have a fantastic husband who takes on (at least) 50% of the household chores (he does all the grocery shopping and most of the cooking). I think it should also be mentioned that ‘Daddy-time’ is an important factor in developing kids’ self-esteem, especially girls’ self-esteem. So way to go Daddy 101 and all the other Daddies out there who devote special time to spend alone with their kids! It will pay off long-term as well as short-term.

  4. Very important reminders 🙂

    I find it hard to let go of my girls sometimes but Daddy does a great job, just different from Mummy. My girls need to know that just as girls are able to take on traditional boy roles, so the reverse also applies boys can take on traditional girl roles just as well.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Daddy-Son time is so very important in our house. The two of them have the most amazing bond. They play so freely together. They are at ease with each other. It is so beautiful to watch. My husband always, always makes time for his little man and makes sure he knows for certain that he is incredibly loved just for who he is. I know they are building the foundations of a wonderful lasting, fulfilling relationship.

  6. My husband and I are expecting baby number six soon and from day one, 15 years ago, he has been more than hands on. As much as I complain sometimes, I know that I am incredibly blessed to have him as a husband, a best friend, and father to our amazing children. He really does do it all, and I should remember that when I’m feeling like a martyr! 😉

  7. I do agree with Christie all her points, and always reminds all these important discussion in our daily life too.

  8. My husband was stay-at-home Dad for the first 2.5 years of our daughter’s life – still a very rare thing in enlightened America. Now he consults 2 days a week and is still doing at least 50% of household duties – all mundane tasks involved in keeping it running, shopping, cooking most of the days, etc. I am very lucky to have a committed and involved partner. Better make it very special for him today on Valentine’s Day 🙂

  9. I learnt the hard way that I had to let go and leave him to it… and I also learnt that I have to ask sometimes. Now that I don’t simply expect him to read my mind and know that I want him to help with this or be there for that he is much more involved and confident and capable…

  10. Zoey @ Good Goog says:

    I agree with Kate! You have to be willing to ask and let them know what your expectations are too. My husband is great at taking out our munchkin for long periods on the weekend and giving me plenty of time to myself but will also leave certain things to me by default unless he’s asked. And as much as I can struggle relaxing my control-freakiness I do. Because they need to have their own relationship that has absolutely nothing to do with me.

  11. I wish!!! My OH does help out some, but I feel like almost everything is my responsibility 🙁 Despite talking this over, he repeatedly let’s me down. I have tried asking him to be responsible for bathtime, for example, but he just won’t do it off his own back – I need to remind him, and when I do, (no matter how evenly I say it), he gets annoyed at me for reminding him. But if I don’t remind him, it won’t get done! If I have to say it a 2nd time, you can guarantee he will b in a really angry mood, and that makes him grumpy at the kids who then end up crying all the way through bathtime, rather than having fun. If dad is helping out with homework, I still have to go & check that he’s signed off their homework diary – he just forgets nrly every time, even though the teacher has has called me over several times in the past few wks to say homework is unsigned and I’ve told him this. So now I’m having to check its done as it reflects badly on me too. I ask him to now the front lawn, but it gets so bad that our neighbour, who is nrly 70, ends up doing it eventually. I am at my wits end, and anything I ask him to do is “I’ll do it 2morrow…”, but tomorrow never comes. He would lie across the couch watching endless tv, and is “too tired” to join me & the kids at the park – makes me so sad he’s missing out on so much…..Even when I ask him to sort stuff that’s dangerous for our kids he won’t do it – a bin he filled full of weeds in the garden about 2yrs ago fills with water every time it rains – if a kid was to fall in they would drown! I am at my wits end – things only end up getting done when I lose my temper & shout like a looney – advice welcome!

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