Read our five tips on how to get Dad more involved at home and with the kids.
I love my husband dearly. Occasionally, though, he has the ability to make me crazily, if fleetingly, annoyed. When his idea of spending quality time with our seven-month-old son, for instance, is to wear him in the baby carrier and stand in front of the television. Or whenever it feels like parenthood has eclipsed every aspect of my life, yet my husband's seems remarkably unchanged.
The good news is that being annoyed with Dad from time to time is perfectly normal. The great news is that parenting gives you plenty of opportunities to encourage your spouse, iron out everyday irritations, and ultimately make your relationship even better. Try some of our tips below.
Talk Isn't Cheap
Your husband may be capable of great things, but he's a crappy mind-reader. Tell Dad how he can help you, whether it's giving you an hour to yourself sans kiddies or doing dinner clean-up. He'll be glad not to have to guess at what you need, and you won't waste any time fuming that he didn't figure it out himself.
Find Dad a Niche
Consider the things your spouse is naturally good at and use them to your advantage. If your hubbie is nonplussed about wearing half the water at bath time, pass that task his way. Is he a stellar salesman? Ask him to help the kids with their school fundraiser. Can he restock the diaper bag for you? Sure he could - but you might rethink this one after he forgets to fill the wipes case once or twice.
Coach a Little
If your spouse is floundering with some particular aspect of parenting, offer up a bit of your own experience. Personally, it irritated me when my husband wouldn't play with our infant son. Then he confessed, "I'm not really sure what to do with him." Once I showed my spouse some of the games I played with our son, he quickly evolved them into his own unique playtime activities and actually started to enjoy entertaining the baby.
Give Dad Some Respect
Take a walk in Dad's shoes from time to time. He tries to do the bedtime routine and the kids shriek for Mommy. His spouse is very specific in how things should be done, so it seems like he never gets it all right. It's a great morale builder when Dad knows you are confident in his parenting abilities. Avoid undermining him or being too critical of how he does things, even if it's not exactly how you would do them. He may flub occasionally, but he deserves the space to do just that and to find his own parental footing as much as you do. Besides, your preschooler really won't remember that time he tried to feed her still-frozen chicken nuggets for dinner.
Praise, Praise, Praise
Who doesn't like a pat on the back now and then? Amy Metcalfe, a mom who works in Manhattan, says "Sometimes at night I just put my head on my husband's shoulder and tell him how lucky our family is to have him in our lives." Let your hubbie know that all of his hard work isn't going unnoticed; he'll be more apt to keep it up. And if you're feeling especially thankful, consider digging out that little panty set he likes so much. After all, how did those kids get here in the first place?