Dear dads and dudelas – let me first start by saying: thank you for being here. I know adding a new baby to the family is a big adjustment for all, including you. If you’re reading this blog, I know you care about your family and your new partner, so thank you. I am so honored to meet so many amazing dads and partners in my work. And now I’m here to give you a message from your partner, so that you may do better. Let’s give your partner something to brag about – YOU! Love, your local doula.
I’m Julianne Curtis, a local doula in Fort Collins, and I see this all the time. Dads mean well but often they are actually only adding to their partner’s plates.
Yep, that’s right. I know you probably think you’re doing everything you can already, but your partner might beg to differ. Dads everywhere aren’t intentionally making things harder, but unless someone spells it out for you (it’s not your fault you aren’t a mind reader), you might not even recognize what’s happening. That’s where this blog comes in.
Your partner is probably really tired right now, emotionally and physically, not only from feeling like the primary parent but also from carrying the mental load of the family. Throw in a little global pandemic and they’re probably at the end of their ropes. Your partner needs your help now more than ever. (And don’t worry I’ll talk to them about how they do too much, but that’s a blog for later. Today is about you.)
Take it from me, when you step up to the plate and contribute around the house more equally, everyone will benefit. You, your partner, and your kids. It’s healthy for them to see parents sharing the load and your partner will feel some relief, too.
So you’re probably wondering… I don’t even know what I’m missing. I’m here to tell you. So dads – here’s how you show more support to your partner:
- Don’t wait until she loses her shit – This might sound obvious, but it’s true. You know how you feel like your partner is always yelling? It’s probably because they asked you nicely five different ways first for help, you just didn’t listen or didn’t pay attention. How about jumping in and offering to do what they asked before it escalates or without being asked.
- Clean up after yourself – This one should be obvious but in case it’s not, make sure you’re not making more work for your partner. Wash your own dishes, put your shoes where they belong, don’t dump your work stuff in random spots, and put your clothes in the dang hamper. It doesn’t have to be hard.
- Clean up after the kids and the house – And while you’re at it, help your partner by cleaning up after the kids, too. Pick up and wash their dishes. Help put the toys away at bedtime, do some laundry for the family.
- Take an active role in the scheduling – Does your partner do all the scheduling for trips, activities, and social outings? At the very least, pay attention to the family schedule before you make plans of your own. But more importantly, take some of the burdens off of her by creating a shared calendar and taking over some of the appointments and such.
- Take initiative – Instead of waiting for your partner to ask for help, look around and see what needs to be done. See a pile of dishes? Wash them without being asked. Is the trashcan full? Take it out. Do the kids need more diapers? Pick some up on your way home from work. The more you can take off your partner’s list, the better everyone will feel, and truth be told the more energy there will be for SEX.
- Don’t complain about work so much – Especially if your partner is a stay-at-home parent, remember that you get to leave the house and see other adults throughout the day. I know it’s hard to work and raise a young family but trust me – being a stay-at-home parent is equally as hard. Respect that. Acknowledge that.
- Prioritize what needs to be done – Time management is crucial when you have a young family. If your partner is asking for help, don’t determine that now is the best time to repaint the trim that’s been that way for years. Sometimes you have to give up on what you want to get done in order to help get through this season of life. There will be plenty of time later for trim, I promise.
- Give them time to themselves – If your partner is a stay-at-home parent, you must find ways to give them time for themselves. It’s not healthy for anyone to be around their kids 24/7/365. Make sure they get breaks, too.
- Grocery shopping doesn’t count as self-care – Read that again if you need to. Going to the grocery store, sans kids does not count as alone time. That’s a chore that has to be done for the family, not free time.
- Be the primary parent after work – If you’re gone all day at work, take over when you get home. Yes, you worked all day but you also got to go to the bathroom alone and you probably had some breaks, too. Now, give your partner a break. Take over the care of the kids and the discipline. Give your partner a minute to go to the restroom, have a drink of water, and all the things that you got to do during the day without thinking about it.
- You’re not just along for the ride – as a parent you are just as capable of knowing everything about babies and children as your partner. You have the choice to be an active parent and share in all the parenting responsibilities. Be an active parent so your partner doesn’t always feel like they have to take the lead for everything kid-related.
- Take some dang photos! Please! I beg you. Do you know how many shots your partner probably has of you and the kids compared to how many you have taken? It’s probably not even close. Get shots of the kids and your partner – candid, staged, you name it – just make sure there are plenty of pictures because someday your kids will really enjoy them.
- Do the thing! If you don’t know where to start, just jump in. Don’t wait until your partner is utterly exhausted. Just jump in and do the thing. Something is better than nothing.
When your family becomes more balanced and your partner has more time for themselves, you’ll be amazed by how much happier, healthier, and engaged they become. It’s not rocket science – lend a hand.
And dads who are already pulling your weight around the house and for the family, good job! I know having a young family is hard on all, but when you pull your weight, it becomes much more manageable for all.
And know this – this blog and the others I’ve written this month aren’t a criticism of dads. Instead, I just want you to be your best selves so your family can be as healthy and productive as possible. Know that this is coming from the best place possible. As a local doula, I just want you to be the best dad you can be.
If you and your partner are struggling through new parenthood or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m a local doula and I specialize in the postpartum period where many of these kinds of issues come up. I’m here for your family and I’m happy to help!