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Getting Dad to Share the Housework

Men spend more hours doing housework than they did 20 years ago, but women still perform the lion's share  -- two to three times what their spouse does. For working moms, the load's even heftier: According to the National Survey of Family and Households at the University of Wisconsin, becoming a parent increases the time they spend on chores by 14 hours a week, while the increase for fathers is only 7. How to get dads to do their part:

SET UP AN AGREEMENT Together, make a list of responsibilities and divvy them up, just as you'd negotiate who's going to tackle certain duties at work, says Larry Barlow, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in Tallahassee. That way, you're less likely to run into issues of who's in control and resentment over being told what to do.

DON'T CRITICIZE So your husband doesn't do things exactly the way you would. If, say, he vacuums less thoroughly than you'd like, take turns and tell yourself you'll do it your way next time. He may give up entirely if you can't be flexible on standards.

OVERCOME OBSTACLES If neither of you relishes cooking, for instance, order takeout a few nights a week. Don't give in to stalling tactics. If he asks a dozen questions about where the kids' clothes go or says "You can do it better," try to respond positively and give encouragement. It may take a little bit of time before he feels comfortable doing a particular task.

BE REALISTIC If you're currently handling most of the housework, don't expect things to be split down the middle overnight. Have him take on a few duties now, then renegotiate down the line.

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