When one parent is a stay-at-home mom and the other works outside the home, there’s a balancing act that needs to take place. Both husbands and wives have to recognize the other’s needs and desires. After all, stay-at-home moms might need their husbands to recognize how hard it is to lose their identity and sense of purpose while a husbands likely need their wives to understand the pressure they face as the sole-provider. No matter what, new moms need their husbands to be ready to get his hands messy when he comes home; dads likely need moms to understand that sometimes they need a minute to de-stress when the workday is done to be their best-selves. Discussions need to take place and help needs to be made available.
In any case, being a stay-at-home mom is an enormous task, one that requires everything a woman has. So, in addition to understanding the big picture, what are some small things stay-at-home-moms wish their husbands would do more often? We asked a group of moms just that. Their answers ranged from the small-but-meaningful (Text More! Stop Assuming I Have Everything Covered!) to the hilarious-but-still-meaningful (I Smell Diapers All Day So Don’t Fart Near Me!). We hope all the answers should provide a bit more perspective on what small things husbands can do to help stay-at-home moms a bit more.
Stop Assuming Your Wife Has It Handled
“My husband is incredibly helpful with stuff around the house. He fixes things, he cleans, he cooks. And it all makes life easier, for sure. But, because I’m at home with our young son all day, I think he assumes that I’ve ‘got it’ when it comes to the rest of the evening. Like, I’m in a groove or something and that feeding, changing, and looking after him is easy for me. My husband never refuses a request for help changing a diaper, for example, but he never outright offers to do it either. Again, I think he just assumes that I’m better at it because I do it more often, so it’s less of a chore for me. But that’s not the case.” – Jess, 33, Ohio
Take the Dog Out at Night
“A little background: Lady was my dog before my husband and I ever met. When we moved in together, got married, and had kids, she became ‘ours’, but there’s still this vibe that she’s ‘mine’. She needs to go out at night before we all go to bed, and it always falls on me to take her. My husband and I are both down for the night — on the couch, watching Netflix, or something — then we get ready to go to bed. And he’ll say something like, ‘Does Lady need to go out?’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah. She does. Why don’t you offer to take her? I got puked on three times today by our infant son. I had to have a ‘talk’ with our daughter’s third-grade teacher.’ It’s almost like a passive aggressive suggestion, and a reminder that I’ve got one more thing to do before I can call it a day.” – Erin, 35, Rhode Island
Stop Talking About Your Female Co-Workers
“This might sound jealous and catty, but I don’t really need to hear about my husband’s female colleagues after I’ve spent an entire day running errands and schlepping our kids around in sweatpants. I’ve met most of them. They’re all young and beautiful, and that’s fine. And I don’t doubt my husband’s faithfulness at all. But, when he comes home with a story about, ‘You’ll never guess what [name] did today. She’s so funny!’, it can get pretty obnoxious. It does make me feel like he enjoys being there more than he’d enjoy being home with me and our kids. Like it’s his escape, or something. He’s a good dad. And a good husband. But, I don’t want to hear it. Or, at least tell me while you’re helping change a diaper.” – Ramona, 34, Georgia
Show More Affection
“He used to grab my butt it all the time. When our first son was born, and I was home with him, my husband would come home from work and go out of his way to squeeze my ass to say hello. Our son went to preschool when we had our daughter, so now I’m home with her all day. And my husband just doesn’t do it anymore. I haven’t brought it up, specifically. Because how do I do that without being super awkward? But it was such a meaningful, playful – albeit small – gesture that let me know he couldn’t wait to see me while I was at home with the kids all day. I miss it.” – Julie, 33, Florida
Close the $^%&ing drawers
“This is a pet peeve, but it drives me nuts. My husband leaves drawers open all over the house when he comes home. It’s literally a non-issue in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a big annoyance that just adds to all the other annoyances of watching a kid all day, ya know? Like, how hard is it to close a drawer after you open it? That simple gesture would mean so much because 1) I wouldn’t bang my knees and elbows on open drawers all the time, and 2) it would show that he’s aware of how much it bugs me, and is making a genuine effort to adapt.” – Christina, 29, Michigan
Text During the Day
“Even a small text from work would just remind me that I’m not dealing with things alone. And I’m talking about meaningful, connective stuff. Not transactional stuff. Like a kiss emoji, instead of, ‘Do we have cereal at home?’ Taking care of our twins is a lot of work. And, don’t get me wrong, I know his days are incredibly busy. But that little show of ‘I’m thinking about you. I love you. I can’t wait to see you.’ would go such a long way in just giving me a boost and a smile.” – Tara, 37, Michigan
Wake Up Early
“I always get up before my husband – I’m the morning person. And when I do, there are a lot of things that need to be done before the day even officially starts. Emptying the dishwasher is a big one, because we run it at night. Just once, I’d love for my husband to wake up early and do all that stuff. I don’t even care if I get to sleep in. But just to be able to wake up and relax, and have nothing to do, instead of going right from 0 to 60 – before having to take care of the house and kids all day – would help so many of my days get off to a calm start.” – Denise, 38, Pennsylvania
Share Your Struggles More
“I talk my husband’s ear off. When he gets home from work, I’m not shy about sharing how good or bad my day was with the kids. I tell him everything. He’s much, much less open. I’ll ask him how his day was, and it’s a lot of one-word or one-sentence answers. He tells me it’s because he doesn’t want to add to my stress with his own. But, honestly, hearing that someone else had a shitty day – more importantly, why someone else had a shitty day – is so comforting. And if I’ve had a bad day, and he’s had a good day, he’ll say that he doesn’t want to brag or gloat. It’s not bragging or gloating – I’m happy for him. That’s like a win for our team. Good or bad, I hate being the only one ready to share at the end of the day.” – Brandi, 35, Ohio
Stop. Keeping. Score.
“If you call my husband right now, he could tell you exactly how many dirty diapers he’s changed this week. He could probably tell you how many times he’s cooked dinner in the last month, vacuumed, folded laundry…and so on. Marriage is absolutely supposed to be an equal partnership. But, it’s also a team. And teams wouldn’t win if players were always saying, ‘Well, I scored the last six points. It’s your turn now.’ I don’t think he does it to be antagonistic. And this is hypocritical, but I would destroy him if I kept score of all the stuff I did all day at home. I’m not sure he realizes this isn’t a game he wants to play…” – Andrea, 32, Texas
Ask Her About Her Day
“That sounds totally cliché, I know. But my frustration comes from the fact that my husband thinks every day as a stay-at-home parent is the same. It’s not. It’s so not. And, even if it was – even if every day was the exact same routine, over and over – asking about it would validate the work it takes to keep the house running and the kids healthy without incident. Honestly, I think he’d get a kick out of most of the stories. ‘The baby peed on my phone today.’ Or, ‘I fell asleep standing up.’ It’s almost never the same day twice.” – Anne, 37, Pennsylvania
Fart in Another Room
“Our son is nine months old. So, I smell shit almost all…day…long. It’s an assembly line of dirty diapers that, as a stay-at-home-parent, I’m constantly in charge of. My husband has no shame coming home, changing out of his work clothes, and ripping one off to signify his arrival. And it’s at the point where I’ve just had it with the smell. He doesn’t get the full force of it, because our son is actually a pretty sound sleeper and, for some reason, diapers aren’t as big a deal in the evening. But, man, I put up with it for eight or nine hours during the day. I don’t need to smell it any more. Go in the garage.” – Rebecca, 34, Colorado