How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

My Wife Belongs in the Kitchen…

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… telling me to do the dishes and housework.

It is written that the Olympics actually began in an ancient Greek household. A man and wife had just birthed a young Greek named Nagmeon. Within a fortnight, the two were screaming at each other over who had changed more grape leaf diapers than the other, who prepared a greater quantity of goat’s milk formula and who had been visited by Morpheus more often (slept). Thus began a competition that would last nearly 3000 years.

Okay, so that’s all bullshit, but you get the idea.


not-steakIs this steak or brownies? You decide.

New parents and married couples deal with this game of games. You know the one I’m referring to: the fun competition of comparing who does more crap around the house. It’s a never ending story of rivalry and sulking. It blows.

Often, the mental weightlifting required to keep up with our daily duties, not to mention navigating each others’ personality quirks, demands more than we have to spare. It’s hard to keep track of it all, but you know once you start counting the number of times you’ve changed a diaper or got up in the middle of the night or made a bottle or washed the bottles or took out the diaper pail or… it’s a free fall plummet into blame. Not that I’ve ever done that.


This week my wife and I realized we hadn’t really figured out “who” does “what” around the house. You’d think we wouldn’t need to write down job descriptions or might’ve already done it implicitly, but that is exactly what we are doing. It’s necessary now. What are our job requirements? What, precisely, is the division of labor in this mini-group?

The advent of feminism and a strong desire on the part of manpeople to be more hands-on at home has sort of left the household organization chart in disarray. The staid, traditional route found itself in the crosshairs of a sociological executioner in the 1960’s. Some still argue there was a sense of orderliness and guidelines to it, false and repressive though it may have been.

dad-earlyThe early days were a blur of liquids, gases and solids.

Before you start unsheathing the castration scissors for thinking I’m implying all women should be stay-at-home moms, go breathe into a bag for a minute while I explain further… Let me point out that I was raised by a single mother. She was “mom” and “dad” essentially. The concept of a stay-at-home-mother is more or less foreign to me. My father appeared on a local television show when I was just one or two years of age, illustrating his life as a stay-at-home dad. It was a bit of circus act show but had a lot of heart. Later, he hit the metaphorical eject button. I dedicated myself to exploring what masculinity was for me, in various ways. Traditional household, we did not have. But this isn’t about gender roles. It’s about what needs to get done, who can best fulfill those requirements.

And most people I’ve talked to don’t do this organization. They either feel no need or they’re content letting their festering grapes turn into a sour juice, I guess. For my wife and I, we noticed how uncoordinated we were with all the stress in our lives. If we’re going to be battling, we may as well be working together in the foxhole, right? Not playing ‘hot potato’ with the incoming grenades.

I wonder how many women want to be stay-at-homers, nowadays. It’s not an easy job. Seriously, you don’t even need to be kitsch and add up the theoretical salary as evidence to prove it’s a superhuman job. To be fair, I can’t breastfeed, I can’t plan our lives and I can’t really hang photos that well. She can’t… well… whine about things as well as I do. Um, yeah. So, she belongs in the kitchen. Telling me what to do, I guess.

Seriously, who does what around the house in your home?

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37 Responses to “My Wife Belongs in the Kitchen…”

  1. I joke with my wife that “shared parenting” means that we split everything 50/50, unless, of course, an activity involves one or more of the following: saws, hammers, screwdrivers, screws, nails, cars, lawnmowers, tires, bikes, electricity, light bulbs, wires, software, passwords, the internet, cat litter, insects, rodents, fire, garbage, paint, ladders, the roof, heights, holding doors, being last to get on or off an elevator, offering a coat when it’s cold, strange noises at nighttime, bravery, chest hair, testicles, a falsely inflated sense of pride and self-worth, or answering the door when the creepy neighbor guy knocks…

  2. Oh I definitely do the cooking…. or the kids would grow up thinking that boxed mac-n-cheese was a veggie.

  3. We just get done what needs to be done in our home. I do the bulk of the cooking, my wife does the laundry, but otherwise, we take on tasks as they come up, and figure out if one or both will be doing them. Somewhere along the course of history, a lot of attention started getting paid to “who” “does” “what”, and partially for good reason; women were entering the workplace alongside men, and fewer men were staying home with the child. So, women were taking on jobs out of the home, then coming home to do housework they thought they escaped by taking on a job. So, we’re still in a flux as a society where women are fighting for fairness in image and treatment at work and men are taking care of more household tasks. But, then we get those ugly studies, which are paid for by a certain group, spun a certain way by the media, and then shotgunned out to the web. Everything’s boiled down to a one-liner.

    But, we know that the state of most households can’t be boiled down to one line. So, there’s that.

  4. Kyle says:

    I still give my parents a hard time about the argument they had YEARS ago:

    “Who uses the pancake griddle more”

    I was epic. And they were 100% serious until I stepped in to point out exactly what they were actually in a heated argument about…

  5. zoesmuse says:

    hmm. Well, over here..I’m divorced but living with my ex while I finish nursing school. and. yet. I still do pretty much all the housework, yardwork etc. I don’t start counting until and unless: I’ve had to quit studying to catch up with chores, I have to miss going out with peoples to do chores, I have bought all the cleaning supplies again, and I’ve got 32 bucks in the bank, he doesn’t *know* where the cleaning supplies are, and in the last, most infamous incident, I cleaned the garage for the 4th time because “I need it clean before I can fix your car” It was the same thing before we split up so I’m ok with it, but yeah, if you’re not doing shit on a daily basis to keep up with the house, you’re not pulling your weight. end of story.

    • JeninCanada says:

      I do just about everything as the hubs works out of the home and I’m here to do it, but this is pretty fair: if you’re not doing shit on a daily basis to keep up with the house, you’re not pulling your weight. end of story.”
      He can put his clothes in the laundry basket, dishes in the dishwasher, run a load of clothes now and then and change diapers when he’s here, as well as play with our son and help with homework. When he doesn’t (as opposed to can’t because of his schedule) you can bet I get resentful.

      • Jesi says:

        Yes, thank you. I don’t mind keeping up the house and all that jazz–but that doesn’t mean you can throw your garbage and your clothes on the floor, or cook a meal and not at least rinse the dishes when you’re done.

        I will do the vacuuming and the mopping and the laundry and scrubbing the bathroom. But I’m not your maid, I’m your wife!

        • Autumn says:

          I agree. I am at home while he goes to work. I take care of the home he provides and I care for the family. We have our roles. However, the most important thing is to appreciate what the other does. On occasion he has mentioned he wants to stay home, and after a day of he and the kids only, he changes his mind. Apparently cleaning house with kids and pets in it is not easy, Who knew 🙂 We are both happy for him to provide and I domesticate. I appreciate his working and dedication, and I show it by making his hometime relaxing. He keeps me at home where I can easily care for our kids. win/win

  6. Jesi says:

    I’m currently staying at home with our two month old. Hubby works two part time jobs and we’re both in school. I keep the house clean as best I can (with a newborn)and I am in charge of schedules and appointments and bills. He does most of the cooking, but only because he grew up in a family of chefs and I grew up with a single mom whose idea of a “home-cooked meal” was spaghetti with sauce from a jar and burnt frozen garlic bread…I’m learning though ^_^

    His only real chore is taking the garbage out. And he won’t even do that unless I remind him every day for two weeks and then tell him “Seriously. Get this shit out NOW. It’s overflowing. Someone is going to call CPS on our asses.”

    • Autumn says:

      don’t say anything about it, just set it on his car hood. He knows he forgot it, he will get it. Don’t do it, don’t nag. I know the frustration, trust me, this will work.

  7. Wendy says:

    There is no longer a division of work in our house, ever since my hubby started buying me my own power tools. I pretty much do everything. I don’t mind most of the time. He helps more now that the kids are all out of diapers. 🙂

  8. Heather says:

    I guess you could say I’m a stay at home mom. My husband works days and I work nights (we are lucky to work in the same department at the same company). I generally do mild cleaning, handle homework, kids events and cooking. My husband does most of the cleaning and all the laundry. However, he is uncomfortable giving any of our 3 medication if they are sick (despite his background and family being in pharmacy- his initials are RX), forgets to tell them to brush their teeth, and prefers I bathe the girls. Upside is he is usually good at getting the kids up and ready for school in the morning. I’d say we have a pretty even split

  9. frustrated says:

    So funny and extremely relevant! Last night I expressed my frustration with this to my husband. It ended with me calling 911 after he hit me, pushed me to the floor, and kicked me (very complicated situation but I know I am a strong woman/don’t deserve this/am doing the right thing and I am confident everything will be resolved). Point is, I want to chime in and vent!

    I do ALL the cooking and cleaning and ALL the care for our toddler daughter. My husband has maybe changed her diaper 20 times since she was born. I also provide 100% of our family’s income. What does my husband do? Every few days, he will take the garbage out when I ask him (but only if it is sufficiently overflowing, otherwise he pushes it down to make more room).

    • JeninCanada says:

      Frustrated, I hope that you and your daughter are safe and that you can find a way out of that situation. You’re right, you don’t deserve to be hit and you did the right thing calling 911. Your hubby does not sound even remotely awesome and I encourage you to toss him out on the curb with the garbage!

  10. AlexMMR says:

    I’m a stay at home mom, primarily because I’m a freelancer so my job can easily be put on hold.

    I take care of the general day to day stuff, vacuuming, keeping the girls fed, laundry. I’m also tech support (2 different computers now my husband has managed to make his display go upside down and I had to fix it), the financial manager/bill payer, general organizer and somewhat of a planner.

    He’s the cook, garbage taker outer, laundry folder, litterbox cleaner (yay!), heavy lifter, and the one who wakes up with the girls and takes care of their first wake up time so I can sleep in (yay again!).

    But in general, if it needs to be done, who ever notices it first takes care of it.

    • Jenelle W. says:

      pretty much the same here…except I cook and we have no pets. I also tend to “see” the mess before he does, but if I wait until it bugs me 3 times, then everything is a 50/50 split for the “whoever notices it first takes care of it.” He doesn’t miss it on purpose though, just doesn’t see it. So as long as I keep my mouth shut and just wait til it bugs me 3 times, one of us gets it done and I’m not pissy. 🙂 And HOORAY for letting me sleep in (even when it’s only 15 minutes) THIS is the reason our marriage is still working. Everybody’s happier when Mommy’s asleep in the morning. Mornings are the devil.

  11. Danielle says:

    My husband and I both work out of the home. I’m in charge of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, the majority of toddler care, scheduling, finances and baby growing (I’m 34 weeks pregnant).
    He’s in charge of fixing anything around the house, taking out the garbage and putting the toddler to bed when I go to bed at 8. He’ll do something if I ask him specifically to do it (Will you fold this basket of laundry?) but a lot of times he “forgets”.
    Normally I’m happy to do as much as I can to take care of my family. Cooking and having a clean home is my way of telling them I love them, but it gets to be too much sometimes. I definitely agree that we need to have a discussion like this to stop festering thoughts from turning into sour grapes.

  12. Susie says:

    When both my husband and I are working, we divvy chores. When my husband is working and I am not, then I do everything house-y except taking out the trash and putting dirty laundry in the basket. He pitches in with those, and taking care of Blurry Boy on occasion. It works for us.

  13. Hannah says:

    I’ve been a stay at home mom and I’ve been a worker bee. But let me tell you, I went nucking futs being with twins and a 6-going-on-21 year old girl 24/7. I love my kids but the first moment sitting in my truck alone after dropping off the herd at school was a bigger rush than the doorbuster deals at Kohls on Black Friday. And without my husband the lawn would be taller than the kids because I’m deathly afraid of lawnmowers. I’m grateful every day for my husband but Christi f he gets drunk and pees in the laundry hamper one more timeI will put him through the woodchipper.

    • Jenelle W. says:

      HAHAHAHAHAHA! My husband, thankfully, does not drunken piss. But we’ve had two close guy friends who did…those college years were a blast but I can totally relate to wanting to put them through the woodchipper!

  14. Jeska says:

    This is harder to quantify than I thought! Both of us worked ’til the kiddo came along, and then there was a (longer than comfortable) stretch with neither of us working… but the hubby had back surgery, and just started a new job, and I’m the stay-at-home Mom, so we’re still figuring out the new division of labor. A this point, I do ALL the heavy lifting, baby wrangling, grocery shopping, calendar minding, and bill paying. I do about 95% of diaper changing, probably 75% of the cooking, and maybe half of the laundry, dishes, and trash. (When he wasn’t working, you can bet the hubby changed at least half of the diapers!) I think I’m getting the better end of the deal.

  15. Tracy says:

    Oh, we have played this ‘who does what’ game for almost 20 years now. We’ve tried several methods – avoid dividing up the chores and just go with the flow; make a detailed list of responsibilities and ‘fairly’ distribute them; and silently resent your partner because you are sure you carry the heavier load. I’m not really sure there is an answer. In college I had high hopes of a successful business career, 6-figure salary, and being able to juggle a family and career. In reality, and in hind-sight, I now firmly believe that families had it better in the 50s and 60s. The household, the kids, and the marriage all seem to be healthier if someone is home to manage them. (Not that I currently do that – just wishful thinking!)

    • JeninCanada says:

      It’s a real shame I think that nowadays both parents have to work in order to provide the same standard of living we used to have when one was able to stay home. My hubby would love to go back to being a stay at home dad but the finances just don’t allow it. We’re working on it though!

  16. Ron Boczarski says:

    My wife is a stay-at-home mom. I go make the dollars. She does most of the work around the house besides dishes. She hates dishes, and I find them relaxing, so I have no problems doing them. This is mostly because I am still working on my bachelor’s degree, so, I have little free time between reading/homework on top of my normal 8-5. When school isn’t in session, I will try keeping laundry caught up, but she likes things done a certain way, and they way I do them is not always the way she wants them done.

  17. My wife and I both work outside the home on full-time schedules in retail management-type positions. It was very natural for us (eventually) to sit down in a business meeting of sorts and appropriate household tasks based on our individual strengths and weaknesses… much as we dole out day-to-day tasks to our respective employees.

    I do the dishes, clean up after the pets, take care of the garbage, cook the food (I’m a Red Seal chef and apparently “complain” every time she cooks), and I track the finances – seriously, part of my current job title is “spread-sheet wizard”. I also insist on doing my own personal laundry – sometimes (seldom) I’ll do other laundry too.

    My wife takes care of literally everything else…. Mediating family discussions, getting children to lessons/school/appointments/etc… She plans the meals and appropriates the groceries to make them. She’s most-often my strength (I’m admittedly a big softy) – she’s the bad cop to my good cop. Parenting would simply not work without her.

    It’s been a six year journey… I bought the ticket and have taken the ride. FINALLY, the “battle of who does more” seems to be at an end. We now both look at what the other does and we each have a sincere gratitude toward the other for doing what we cannot each do individually.


    Before last month, I totally did more than she does. 🙂

  18. Champ says:

    Great Blog!! Usually I do the cooking “indoors” he does the grilling!! He also takes care of the outdoor chores and will help out with the vacuuming but never washing clothes!!

  19. Rona says:

    People think marriage is a 50/50 split and it isn’t. Stop with the measuring and egos and just do it because you care!

  20. Lize says:

    I’m a stay at home mom by choice at 22. I had a very decent job making about the same amount of money as my husband but I always wanted to be a stay at home mom even if it meant we have to cut back on a lot of things. Luckily my husband felt the same way and supported me with my choice. The little one is now 12 weeks old and I can honestly say so far it has been the best decesion in my life. I do all the homework, cleaning, scrubbing, laundry, cooking, finances, groceryshopping and the occasional photography job. He does all the ‘manly-stuff’ like heavy lifting, fixing stuff, taking out the trash, drilling holes in the wall etc.

    We sometimes joke about his dirty laundy laying on the floor everyday that I have to pick up (come on, little effort to pick it up and throw it in the hamper?!) but honestly I don’t mind doing it.

    I never whine about who does what and make a fuss out of how tired I am from all the stuff I did that day housewise and babywise. Sometimes he will help with stuff, like (un)loading the dishwasher or do a bit of vacuuming in the weekends without me asking. I guess we’re just old-fashioned, both grown up in family’s with young stay at home moms and dad’s who made the living. We live on a really tight budget now, having very little to spare at the end of the month but to me it all worth it.

  21. Fay says:

    We follow fairly traditional roles, playing to our strengths, sharing cooking, acting as a parenting team and taking up any slack caused by illness etc. It suits us very well but it took time to get into it all as parents. at least 2 years.

  22. Brenda says:

    In some ways we are traditional and in other ways we are not. I generally do most of the cooking… but my husband helps me with cleaning around the house.

    People think this one is crazy, but I usually am the one that mows the lawn!! haha. I actually enjoy it, because I get a break from the kids and blast my music on my mp3 player.

    • Riley Romatz says:

      I love to mow the lawn too! But I’m also very particular about the lines being straight so I might as well do it otherwise I’ll go back over it lol

  23. Tricia says:

    I work outside the home and make most of the money. We split things more like 70/30. My husband makes lunches most of the time but I get them up for school and help them get ready. He does after school pick up, but I make dinner do most of the dishes and the lawn(he has allergies) I feel like I do a lot more than he does and get frustrated when I think he should be doing more. I think if he was better at time management he could do more and perhaps I wouldn’t be so tired and want to go to bed at 9 when he wants to watch tv.

  24. Chris says:

    In the beginning my wife was abysmal at housework. She can decorate up a storm, host a great party and remember details from conversations form six years ago, but wield a toilet… I don’t think so. After 20+ years together we came to two simple decisions… she doesn’t do anything outside the house and I can’t be bothered organizing/planning our schedule. We go with our strengths. I do the chores I enjoy (or tolerate), she does the chores she enjoys (or tolerates) and we split the rest down the middle. It seems to ebb and flow over time (I do a lot more in summer with the addition of yard work and she does more in winter as more time inside = more daily mess), but tackling the tolerable and then sharing the loathsome together keeps us in good humor and much happier… as long as she doesn’t try folding or ironing my clothes *shudder* we’re a pretty happy couple in this arena.

  25. Andi says:

    My husband earns the money; something I am not equipped to do right now. He also cooks dinner most nights, does the lion’s share of the dishes, takes the garbage out, etc.

    What he does that I appreciate nearly as much as a warm house and lights that turn on is that he spells me when he’s home so I can do something other than 24/7 mama stuff for an hour or two. If I just have to have a nap, he’s got the rest of it. That is vital to me.

    He’s better at feeding solid foods to our little girl. He’s just better at it. More goes in the kid and there is less complaining about new stuff. And, she goes to sleep at night like a champ for him, so he is the beloved by both of us night night Daddy.

    I can do all of this without him, except for the money. And, the money is a big deal; super important and overlooked as a contribution often, however that happens. What I can’t do, is do it well for the distance, without him. I need a nap. And, I need HIM. =)

  26. Natalie Zhang says:

    Hubby is in the Army and works very hard at a clinic. I’m a stay-at-home mom at the moment so I do most of the work around the house. He takes out the garbage, cooks occasionally (makes amazing food!), I do just about every thing else.

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