And another thing (!)

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Paper I have been thinking more my parental role and how it evolved. Actually, more like dwelling on all the things I do, which I don't really remember actually agreeing to do. I just do them, because someone has to.

Warning: this is a bit of a rant.

Parties. Everything to do with children's parties falls under my remit: putting the date in the diary, buying and wrapping the present, getting the girls to make a card. Often this includes getting them there and back. Last week when I told hubby it was time to get our 7-year-old from the fairy cooking party she was attending, he announced it was time to take a shower.

Bath time. Even though hubby is often home at bath-time, this is my responsibility as well. This includes making sure we have children's shampoo (and toothpaste), clean towels, pyjamas, checking for lice…

Packing. I don't even think he knows where the girls' clothes are kept. I'm pretty confident he does know where their bedroom is though.

Watching the kids on the plane. Hubby usually gets all the papers and READS them. He then dozes, while I turn into a contortionist sorting out meal trays, catching drinks before they spill, and picking crayons out from under the grotty airplane seats.

Sun cream. Buying and thinking of applying it to the children. It could be 30C outside and the girls splashing in the paddling pool for hours, yet the thought of applying sun cream does not enter his brain (you would never know his brother was a consultant dermatologist specialising in skin cancer).

Teacher gifts. Not even on his radar. I think he knows the girls' teacher's names (but not the assistants). And I'm pretty sure he doesn't know where their classroom is.

Clothes. I buy and wash and fold and put away all children's clothes.

Hair and nails. Does YOUR husband do hair or nails?

All is not lost though, hubby does most homework (I'm hopeless at maths) and bedtime reading. He also has responsibility for anything remotely rubbish and all things IT.

After reading this over I realise maybe the best thing to do is to go away for a weekend and leave him to cope on his own. Luckily I have planned a weekend in October in Paris with the girlfriends. Maybe I'll put in a screen cam.

So what things to you do to keep your household running smoothly?

PS — there's still time to win some serious mummy pampering.

Photo credit: woods-kimber

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  1. 08/09/2009 / 14:27

    Parties, birthdays, playdates, presents/cards etc: 100% mine, even to the taking to and fetching from.
    Bath time: 90% his, I only do it when he’s away on business or on a jolly. From when our eldest daughter was a baby, bath time and putting to bed has been his. It’s his time with them in the evenings and it gives me time to get cleared up and organised for tomorrow.
    Packing: me, except his bag, I refuse.
    Watching the kids on the plane: both, although more me.
    Sun cream: buying and applying, me. Moaning about the selection compared to home (South Africa): him.
    Teacher gifts: me, he just about knows where the schools are but would lost at classroom locations.
    Clothes: he buys some, I wash them all, fold them all and put them all away.
    Hair and nails: hair, on 2nd daughter, a loose ponytail. Complete responsibility for giving both sons a buzz cut. Clips, bobbles, alice bands are alien creations to him. Nails, never, not from babyhood, always been my remit.
    I have to say though that he is an excellent father, very hands on, his boys have/are growing up with lots of physical inter-play, sports etc. and 2nd daughter is a complete daddy’s girl. He does an awful lot around the house to help me (four children + 2 childminding charges on a daily basis to deal with makes me a little tired/cranky by Friday afternoon!) at the weekend and he’s even started to iron his work shirts again…..:-)

  2. 27/07/2009 / 09:20

    Sounds very familiar! We do have a system whereby he does mornings (gets her up and dressed) and I do after school until bedtime (he’s late home from work) which suits us both. I do Saturdays (including parties) because he’s at work or football and he takes her swimming on Sunday morning. Most minor things still fall to me though. Why is that?

  3. 25/07/2009 / 22:18

    Bath time and packing the husband can do. All the other ones are also mine. And I do tend to end up doing the packing as well. And a lot of baths these days.
    You are so right. Most of these things would just not get done. Leaving him to it is an excellent idea.

  4. 24/07/2009 / 17:29

    A weekend in Paris is a brilliant idea, but chances are you’ll just come home to a bigger mess. This post hits home with me today. I’m been bitching in my head all morning at the husband.
    He thinks because I only work part-time that all cleaning duties should fall on me. Well, it was like this too when I worked full-time. His only job during the summer months is to mow the lawn and he even gripes about that. To top it off, many times he fails to pick up after himself so it’s left to me to do it for him. If I ask for help, I’m given a guilt trip. Frankly, if it weren’t for me, as with most women, this place would never get cleaned. Sure, he would do the dishes and maybe wipe down the counters but real cleaning like dusting and hoovering would only get done maybe every three or four months. It just never crosses his mind! Thank god we did not have more children or I don’t know how I would manage. Rant over.

  5. 23/07/2009 / 21:06

    No, that is my husband! He can’t have three or more wives, can he? Really??
    Our family has both parents working, so he puts the clothes on the girls after I have picked them out, does the day care drop off, makes breakfast (cereal or scrambled eggs only) does all dinner dishes and does any meat grilling that occurs outside, and clips baby nails. On Sundays he vacuums the whole house with his shopvac. He doesn’t know other chores exist except when I delegate to him. Clothes slecting and cleaning, parties, planning, sunscreen, gifts, groceries, cooking, bill paying, child interaction, physical therapy on infant, reading to kids etc., all mine. Like MommyTime, every time my husband looks at the newspaper in the morning I am rather annoyed. And what he absolutely refuses to do is WORRY! Bastard! How can he never sit and puzzle out this week, next month, plans for schools or what have you and worry about the future? Very irritating. Er, um, maybe I won’t post the thing I was working on where I said I felt grateful . . .

  6. 23/07/2009 / 14:48

    I totally agree with you. For my part, although we love our husband and father we wouldn’t miss him if he decided to move out, as he is never here and when he’s here his job is to relax. Ciao. A.

  7. 23/07/2009 / 02:50

    Ahh….my husband has abandoned bath time as well. He tried once to do it on his own, while I was home, during that newborn phase where Adam screamed in the bath. I think he (my husband) was so traumatized that he never has tried again. Ever.

  8. 23/07/2009 / 00:17

    All of the above is my job, with the exception of bathtime, which is normally his. He is also very good at story time. Though we aren’t in the land of homework yet (and I suspect that will be my job), I am the one who does all the collecting of items for preschool every morning — and the list invariably includes, in addition to boots, snowpants, mittens, coats, scarves, and hats (or bathing suits, towels, and flip flops in summer), a signed form, a box of nose tissue, a photo of something random, and $4 for the magic show this Weds. Times two children.
    And how is it that I am in charge of the cleaning, combing, dressing, and feeding of myself and two littles every morning, while husband watches the news and then takes a 20 minute shower?
    Honestly, though, it’s the airplane thing that kills me. If we didn’t live on different continents, I would swear that we might be married to the same man!

  9. 22/07/2009 / 23:23

    My husband is rubbish at anything to do with school stuff. In fact I got back from a meeting at school only this evening and while I was filling him in on what happened, the phone rang. It was the chair of the school governors, who chatted for a minute, then asked to speak to my husband. He stepped into the other room with the phone and when he came back, proudly announced “I’m a school governor now – they need a lawyer on board,” before taking another slug of red wine and going back to his steak. Not sure I altogether like him being important, suddenly, in my little world.
    PS thanks so much for adding me to your blog roll

  10. A Modern Mother
    22/07/2009 / 23:09

    Expat — I’ll happily learn from your 16 years of experience. Maybe I’ll do it as sort of an experiment. He probably won’t notice though šŸ˜‰

  11. 22/07/2009 / 22:10

    Here’s what usually happens in our house if I ever go away for a few days (last decade I think). Everything is fine because I’ve made sure there are clean clothes, presents for any parties they are going to etc. etc. Hubby copes marvellously and they even have a few adventures, BUT in my opinion, that’s not quite the same as doing all that and keeping control of doctor, dentist and other appointments, making sure they have everything for school etc.
    Now that I have 16+ parenting years under my belt, I find that if I just don’t get up (eg. to put the little one to bed) hubby sort of jumps up guiltily. Try it.

  12. A Modern Mother
    22/07/2009 / 15:55

    Sandy – Glad to know it’s not just me
    Nappy – I forgot about Christmas! Now that you are in the US you will need teacher gifts!
    Home Office – Please take a photo of your hubby when you get back from Brazil!
    All Grown Up – That happened here too
    Grit – Some good ideas here!
    SPD – You are always so sensible!
    Tasha – A week? Sounds good to me, I wonder if I could do it? (seriously)

  13. 22/07/2009 / 11:09

    Most of it we split pretty equally – sorry! Clothes I do, but mostly because Chris has got fed up with me changing her clothes 5 minutes after he’s got her dressed, because the colours clash or the under-T-shirt is on top of the dress or something. On train journeys, I think he will more easily pick up the newspaper/his book and assume that I’m watching her, but he’s quite capable of it when necessary/asked. I do all the washing in the house, though. But I do not touch the garden, so I think I get an easier job, there. He packed his own suitcase and ironed his own clothes for holiday. I packed Rosemary’s clothes; he packed books and toys. I’m pretty happy with our split, to be honest, though every now and then I’ll get annoyed about a little something (but so does he – I’m not exactly Mrs Beeton!).
    And I think you need a week away, not just a weekend – the school run responsbilities are pretty full on and he’ll never fully appreciate what you do without including that. (And, yes, that’s another thing we share pretty equally.)

  14. 21/07/2009 / 19:10

    I think a weekend, or even longer, of absence, should be prescribed. I often give that advice to men struggling with confidence, and women who have fellas not pulling their weight.

  15. 21/07/2009 / 18:01

    Parties? everyday is party day! dig buys beer.
    Bath time. let’s miss a bath tonight.
    Packing. packing? let’s say we travel light.
    Watching the kids on the plane. who’s watching anything other than the in plane dvd?
    Sun cream… some smart person taught the kids to spray themselves.
    Teacher gifts – ha! kicked into the long grass!
    Clothes. ok. i admit. if dig was in charge we’d all wear newspapers and bin liners.
    Hair and nails. i do hair. dig cries like a baby if i make him do it. and no-one does nails. i don’t know what happens to them. maybe they all drop out.

  16. 21/07/2009 / 08:57

    Argh! You speak so much truth, I’m sat here getting mad at my husband,and he’s not even here!! He and toddler came back from a short weekend away: both sunburned. He’s usually so careful,I was LIVID! My beautiful boy has a face full of blisters! Scarring, perhaps, but SKIN CANCER??? So mad at hubby. He can be as stupid as he wants with his own skin, by my baby’s is priceless.

  17. 21/07/2009 / 08:18

    I am right there with you S.
    Parties – whether it’s them going to others or their own, it’s my responsibility and mine alone.
    Packing – absolutely me except for actually putting the bags in the car because THAT is a man’s job and only men have the ability to perfectly fit suitcases into spaces. The car boot is a man’s kingdom (or at least that’s what they believe and I’m happy to relinquish the space)
    Bathtime – mainly me because he’s never here but when he is, occasionally he does it and I must say, does a better job of lathering them up than I do. Military attention to detail when it comes to cleaning all the bits. He will tackle hair and nails too
    Suncream – he has been trained to do this now. It’s taken electro shock therapy but we’ve got there
    Teacher gifts – ha ha ha ha ha. Nuff said
    CLothes – he buys them. That’s where his role ends.
    On the plane – this is why we stay at home.
    And it’s why I’m heading off for five weeks on my own later this year. I am sure that when I return he will either be a jibbering idiot who now realises what I do and be fully appreciative, or he will be completely in command in which case, he will have been trained and I can pass on some of my jobs forever.
    Here;s hoping

  18. nappyvalleygirl
    21/07/2009 / 00:53

    With you on anything to do with birthdays (and I’ll add to that Christmas presents for all HIS nephews and nieces), packing, clothes, hair and nails (I don’t think he would know where nail clippers were kept). I plan all the boys’ meals, but we share bathtime and bedtime. We haven’t quite got to the Teacher gift stage, but I can predict that the task will fall to yours truly.

  19. 20/07/2009 / 21:18

    All pretty much the same here. He has no idea what they eat or where anything baby related lives. I’m the toothpaste, shampoo, nappy and clothes fairy. Although he does the bath/bed routine for the eldest and treasures that time.

  20. A Modern Mother
    20/07/2009 / 19:00

    Too- what great advice from the get-go
    Geeky- maybe he worries but you don’t kno wit?
    Confused- thank god it’s not just me
    Brenda– the thought of my husband doing what yours has done gives me hope

  21. 20/07/2009 / 17:58

    As babies, my hubby was so not interested in helping out, as they became older he became better at doing things, only because they could tell him what to do!
    He works really hard and provides us with a wonderful life so it was never really an issue and I have always been lucky to have help with the housework.
    But today he has gone off for five nights with our daughter our youngest (9), I still had to do all the packing for both, organise snacks for both, plan their route and ensure he had the documents. I have had about 50 calls, but that is not unusual, but they seem to be having a good time, which is the most important thing.

  22. 20/07/2009 / 17:49

    clothes – would you want him to? Whenever my hubby dresses the girls they look like they have run head first into a jumble sale stall.
    hair – all fingers and thumbs for styling but he does do hair wash and nails occasionally.
    Plane – I am with you on this one. How come he gets to snooze and read paper whilst I am stressed out trying to stop them from crying?
    Bathtime – I WISH!! Am trying to get him to take the responsibility of this, but he seems reluctant. HMPH

  23. 20/07/2009 / 17:46

    Thanks for sharing!
    In our house: Hair washing is dads job (he is more gentle and patient). I have to remind him to do it though.
    Airplanes: Joint responsibility. Often we are sitting two and two, so we each take responsibility for the child sitting next to us.
    Sunscreen: He is better at it, since very fair skinned. In fact he puts mine on too!
    Kids parties. He makes the cocktails for the adults.
    Packing for kids, laundry for kids, teacher gifts, remembering to make doctors appointments, sending pictures to in laws, all me.
    We do pretty good, I think (we both work so try to even out the home stuff.) My only resentment is that I am the one who seems to do all the worrying!

  24. TooManyHats
    20/07/2009 / 17:08

    The best thing we did from the get-go with baby #1 was put him in charge of bathtime. The lactation consultant we saw prior to birth highly suggested it as a way for daddy to bond with baby – it was also 30 minutes for me to relax. Actually it was much more than that because bathtime led to storytime and bedtime – all of which he was in charge of.
    My hubby was always really good sharing in the parenting, so I have no complaints. I just have to remember to let him do it his way and not get on him for not doing it my way.

  25. A Modern Mother
    20/07/2009 / 16:18

    Natalie — yes, asking, seems so simple but I rarely do it
    Nathan — Ha! I guess I overlook some things šŸ˜‰ Hubby also blows up the paddling pool (and gets out the spiders and bees). Impressed you can do hair. I guess empyting the nappy bin can count for double (yuk).

  26. 20/07/2009 / 15:36

    Great rant. As a bloke here’s my take on responsibilities:
    Parties: supervision and blowing up of paddling pools, running around/ball games only. All pass the parcel creation to be done by mum.
    Bath time: 50/50
    Packing: OK, you win
    Plane: 50/50
    Suncream: Aware, skin cancer in family
    Clothes: Asked not to interfere
    Hair: Yes, in one style (scarecrow), no pins or bunches. Nails left alone until my face gets scratched then moan to mum about state of nails.
    The following are my jobs only: making up milk bottles, cleaning bub’s room, emptying nappy bin (why is rubbish clearance a man’s activity?)

  27. 20/07/2009 / 15:28

    Ah…this sounds familiar well minus the lice and the sun cream. He does nails but I personally don’t think he cuts them low enough and he holds the bambino whilst I comb because she has a huge head of hair that she doesn’t like being combed. I have discovered the power of asking because I realise that in assuming tasks, the boyf will think it’s all covered. Next thing you know it’s wobbler central and when he kept saying ‘All you need to do is ask’, I decided to take him at this word. So far, it’s working although we have some differences of opinion on what constitutes cleaning plus when we went through a phase of him sorting out downstairs and me doing upstairs, he got very bossy about me tidying up after myself! Cheek! Oh and I leave giant post-it’s around the house to stalk him…