Until recently, dads were only required to hunt woolly mammoths. And occasionally build a shelter. And maybe scare off other alpha males. But cooking and kids were seen exclusively as a “women’s job”.
Today, with double income an economic necessity and many women choosing to have families and careers, there is no place for gender roles and stereotypes. Dads have to share family care and household responsibilities. Not only is his involvement necessary to ensure an equal division of work in the relationship, but scores of research have also documented the positive effect thereof on the child. When you are present and have a good relationship with your child, he or she will be happier, healthier, more successful, and less likely to engage in risky behaviour.
While most men are prepared to step up to the challenge and take on their new roles, some are not quite sure exactly what the job description of “Active Dad and Partner” involves. Sharing the load Despite the coming of the “modern family”, research suggests that while men and women now share the bread-earning role, the burden of family care and parenting responsibilities still falls mostly with the woman.
Findings of recent studies include:
- Women work roughly 15 hours longer than men each week (work and family)
- Working women spend roughly 3¼ hours per day on family care
- Men with working wives spend roughly less than two hours each week on family care
- Men do not trade off leisure for work/family while women do
Although there may be many reasons for this, often it’s simply a matter of not knowing exactly what is involved in running a household or not being sure how to contribute.
Here are some tips:
- Insist on doing your share. Don’t ask if you can “help” – it implies that it’s your partner’s responsibilities and you are willing to help out.
- Set priorities. Write down all your household and family-care responsibilities and decide which ones are most important for you as a couple.
- Let go of gender stereotypes. It’s not possible to divide work equally if you believe watering the garden is a “man’s job” or you insist that you don’t know how to change a nappy. Roles have changed significantly, your ideas should too.
- Divide the responsibilities equally. Make separate lists for each partner’s responsibilities. Start with the chores that you like or don’t mind doing. Perhaps your partner is willing to do something that you can’t stand and vice versa. Flip a coin for the ones that no one likes, decide to tackle it together or consider hiring someone else to do them. Make sure your lists balance in the end.
- Make technology your friend. Using technology to help you complete your tasks can free up some couple and/or family time. Use the dishwasher, shop online, and so on.
- Plan weekly. Sit down every weekend with your individual calendars to plan for the week ahead. Discuss meetings, errands, appointments, special occasions, and other things that need to be done.
- Have one family calendar. Have a calendar in a central place (such as the kitchen) on which you note who’s doing what where and when. This is a great reminder of who is and is not available or responsible for certain activities
- Always have a back-up plan. Always make sure that emergency numbers or contacts are listed with school or child-minders.
- Express appreciation. Don’t take your partner’s efforts for granted. Show your
appreciation with words and gestures.
With your daily and weekly chores lined up and a full-time job, you may wonder where quality time with the kids comes in. Although it takes a bit of planning, some commonsense and a lot of creativity, you can find time to connect and play with your kids.