Category Archives: The Chore Wars
Did-Enough Dads – These are the Dads who do just enough to get by. Domestic Shortcuts (skipping baths and teeth brushing) are Standard Operating Procedure, and they make liberal use of Convenience Cards (TV, McDonald’s, 1-800-Grandma).
Hillary Duff and her husband, Mike Comrie recently became new parents. Hillary has been a mother for less than a month but she has more insight and self-awareness than I had after six (OK, twelve) months of motherhood! Continue reading
On any given weekend in millions of homes across globe, wives stand in front of their husbands listing all of the selfless acts they have performed in the last week: “I paid all the bills, bought a birthday present for your mother, read Goodnight Moon five times, took four six-year-olds to Chuck-E-Cheese . . . and that was just Tuesday. . . .”
The husbands return fire: “Excuse me, but did I not make the kids breakfast every morning last week, including the morning it made me late for my presentation, when I really should have gone in early? And I picked up the dry cleaning without being asked, and I did bath duty three times last week. What more do you want?”
A volley of personal accomplishments and sacrifices ensues. Not exactly what we thought life would be like when we eyed each other across the room all those years ago, is it? Continue reading
When my first kid was about three months old I reached my breaking point. I was downright exhausted and needed my husband, Ross, to pick up some slack. (Let me preface this by saying that Ross is a great guy. This happened during the early days of parenting when ‘he just didn’t get it.’) One time, I remember telling him that all I cared about was stepping on some sort of exercise apparatus, improving my overall hygiene, and getting a few hours of shuteye. At the end of the day, he was no where in sight. Where’s Waldo? I called him on his cell and of course he said he was on his way shortly. And what did I hear in the background? I could swear it sounded suspiciously like a combination of Golden Tee and a keg being tapped.
After living much of our pre-parenthood lives as relative equals, it comes as a surprise when, post-baby, men and women start to assume different and not always complementary roles. Our instincts nudge women into the role of nurturers and men into the role of providers. When we become parents our most basic instincts rise to the surface. We find ourselves back in the prehistoric suburbs, where women wonder if baby might be allergic to mammoth and if there are enough wild berries in his diet, and where men stalk buffalo and question whether their hunting abilities will be good enough to get the family through the winter.
It’s like our brains get completely rewired, running two separate “his and her” programs, but for good reason. Both programs are equally important for the survival and well-being of the baby. She focuses on the micro, the day-to-day development of the baby, while he focuses on the macro, providing food and shelter for the baby.
In simple terms, she has The Mommy Chip, while he has Provider Panic.
During the newborn stage, new parents resort to all manner of fun and games to keep themselves amused during this difficult time. One of our personal favorites is called Midnight Chicken, also known as Who Will Blink First? It goes something like this: It’s 3:00 a.m. The baby is awake (again) and crying (again). You are both awake. You both hear her. But nobody moves. Women are tacitly calling in their chit (Surely he knows it’s his turn this time?), but men, the masters of this game, simply play dead (maybe they throw in a little snoring). Continue reading
USA Today ran an article yesterday titled “Years of Research Point to Strain Kids Put on Relationship.” Not exactly breaking news for those of us raising young children. The article refers to the more than 25 separate studies in the past two decades that find that marital quality takes a dive with a baby’s birth: babies raise stress, reduce happiness and otherwise upset the household. There seems to be a never-ending series of academic reports that find that those of us who are married with kids are less happy than our childless married friends.
But are all of these studies focusing on the right emotion? Should we really be asking ourselves how happy having kids has made us? Continue reading
What Our Parents and Grandparents Can Teach Us About the Early Parenting Years: Reflections From the Other Side
It’s hard to have perspective about this stage of our lives. We can’t see too far beyond the next milestone: “Things will be so much easier when he’s potty trained/in preschool/making his own lunch/driving a car.” But we can get some perspective from couples who have been down this road already. Even though marriage and parenting have changed dramatically in a generation or two, the fundamental experience of adjusting to parenthood remains basically the same. The parenting veterans once found it as shocking as we do now. They felt their way along in the dark just like we’re all attempting to do. Continue reading
When it comes to taking care of the kids and the house, are you a Maternal Gatekeeper? Do you micromanage your husband when he changes a diaper or cleans a dish? Do you often find yourself in a tit-for-tat scorekeeping argument because you want things done your way?
Many arguments about the division of labor arise because of our differing standards around the house. Women want things done just so. Men just want things done, period. And they will take that short-cut whenever they can. Do any of these sound familiar?
Top Five Shortcuts Men Use
1. Change the diaper. Put soiled diaper on the floor or on top of the Diaper Genie, but not actually in the Diaper Genie.
2. Take the trash out. Don’t replace the trash bag in the kitchen.
3. Never change the toilet paper roll. Use tissue from the tissue box instead.
4. Place dirty clothes on top of the dirty clothes hamper.
5. Dress the kid in the first thing you pull out of the drawer. Whether it “works” or not is not an issue.
And what about when our husbands are taking care of the kids themselves? They tend to use up all the Convenience Cards, all the easy activities to get them through the day.