16 Tips For Balanced Housekeeping | Stay At Home Dad Doesn’t Do Housework
I’ve been a stay at home dad aka unemployed for seven months now and I’m starting to get the hang of it.
What started as a layoff has transformed into a huge opportunity to change my career and way of life. I don’t mean check out. I mean rethink my priorities.
I want to earn my living doing what I love and spend more time with people that I care about.
I am different than your partner in many ways but we still share commonalities. If you find yourself asking the question, how do I get my lazy husband to help with housework, then this post is for you.
Stay At Home Dad Doesn’t Do housework?
Start With Better Communication
The most important thing that you and your partner can do is sit down together and talk. Give each other the attention and connection you both deserve.
Even if the baby is screaming. Your son spills juice on the tablet. Your daughter breaks into the refrigerator for some yogurt. It is critical that you take the time to talk things through. Get the kids settled first and set aside at least 30 minutes for figuring this out.
The goal isn’t to start a fight. The goal is to prevent many arguments in the future and get on the same page.
Figure out what you both want the day to look like and then negotiate. What will your expectations be while you are at home? The results need to be measurable.
Categorize Chores By Frequency
Are these things done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Is it a seasonal chore or a larger project broken down into smaller tasks?
Examples include making the bed, dealing with mail, cooking dinner, and cleaning up the main living area (after your kids destroy it every day).
Examples include laundry, washing the bedsheets, cleaning out the refrigerator, and collecting trash from around the house.
Examples include thorough cleaning of your dressers and closet, wash bedding, wiping down ceiling fans and blinds, vacuum under furniture, and deep cleaning the bathroom.
Projects Or Seasonal Chores
Examples include reorganizing the garage or shed and repainting your home office in the Hunter Green you recently saved on Pinterest.
Care.com wrote a great piece on household chores with a master list that you can save and print.
Don’t Do Chores You Hate
This is one reason why introducing new chores to your partner might fail. Trade with one another and do things that you don’t mind doing.
I traded my wife sweeping and vacuuming for dishwashing. I find the latter much more bearable than the former.
The same goes for laundry. I separate, then wash and dry our clothes and my wife folds them and puts them away.
Find what works best for you and your partner.
Use The Stacking Method
Or as JamesClear.com puts it, “break habits into chunks”. Start small and build up.
If you’re having trouble getting your partner to take action, introduce one new task at a time.
I started by unloading the dishwasher every day. My wife would usually wash the dishes at night. Within a few weeks, I found myself handling the dishes too.
Recognize Small Victories
Like Pavlov and his dogs, teach your partner to enjoy housework.
Acknowledging the little things that they do will push them to do more of those things. You even offer small rewards. These small things will grow into larger ones with time.
Recognize alternative tasks that men do like maintenance, repair, decoration, and yard care. Try to find the things that your partner is doing currently and thank them for it. Factor this into their housekeeping activities.
As an example, I take my children to and from childcare. This accounts for an extra hour spent on household activities per day.
Notice the differences and similarities on this chart. Reference it when you get to my list of household hacks.
I want to point out that 1-3 on that list attempt to close the gap in the three areas with the greatest disparity. These things are food and drink preparation, interior cleaning, and laundry.
Start A Housekeeping Journal
Make a log of how you and your partner are contributing. List the activities that you did and how long it took to complete them.
The goal is to track activity and maintain balance.
At the end of each week, sit together, and review your progress. Identify what things are taking the most time and that you hate doing.
See if you can trade those tasks or alternate on a weekly basis.
Remember that all activities contributing to your family’s wants and needs count. This includes driving, running errands, cooking, and organizing. It covers all outdoor and indoor chores.
Never forget to acknowledge the positive change.
Pay Attention To Mental Health
Sure, your partner may be lazy but it is a good idea to tune into their mental health while they are at home.
Men don’t socialize the way women do and often keep to themselves. The suicide rate in men is 3.56x higher than women according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
I suffer from depression. I won’t get into the details but I will say this. Seeking treatment was the best thing that I could have done. It took me over two years to swallow my pride and make my first appointment but it’s changed my life for the better. I advocate for you to do the same.
Dads are notorious for keeping a relaxed demeanor surrounding housework. I know from personal experience.
I don’t mind if my house is messy so long as I can be productive working on my website. For me, I call this tunnel vision. Having a list helps but if things aren’t happening right away; please be patient.
So long as you and your partner sit down and talk things out, expect to see results. It’s about getting into the habit of doing these things which can take time.
If things don’t start to change after a week, remind your partner of the agreement you have. Hold them accountable but keep your cool. Avoid starting fights and raising your voice. It will only add resentment toward one another.
Housekeeping Hacks For Stay At Home Parents
This has been a tremendous crutch for us because I am not a fan of cooking. Sure, I would love to be a great chef. Who doesn’t? But it eats most of my night, pun intended. I prefer playing with my kids for a few hours or lounging with my family. We’ve recently subscribed to Every Plate because it is simple and inexpensive. I’m justifying the expense because it cuts down on waste, groceries, and cook time. Most importantly, my wife and I no longer fight over who has to cook…
Wash And Fold Laundry Services
This is the biggest hack for me. I am passionate about hating laundry.
I hate the entire process and it takes me an enormous amount of time. Just last week I started doing research online and found there was already an answer to my prayers.
Companies like Rinse and Wash offer wash and fold services. They are currently expanding and might service your area. If they don’t, shop your local laundrymats or use Angie’s List to find a great “Wash and Fold” service near you. This turned an all-day ordeal into an hour. I only have to hang up and put clothes away.
Invest In A RoboVac
If you don’t love vacuuming, invest in a quality robovac or robot vacuum. This automates one of the most time-consuming, daily, household chores.
You set, and forget.
The theme here is automation. Both men and women don’t appreciate doing chores so why not remove the bigs ones from the equation?
Do what works best for you.
Have Your Groceries Delivered
Meal kits are great for lunches and dinners but we still need things from our local markets.
Condiments, snacks, cereals, and et cetera. Grocery shopping is another thing that I love removing from my chore list.
Trying to entertain children while you shop or trying to rush while your family waits in the car is not fun. Plus, it is inevitable for a few extras to make it into your basket.
We’ve been ordering groceries online for a year and love it.
There are no screaming kids, long lines, or impulse control necessary. The small fee in my eyes is a worthy tradeoff for less stress.
Do Your Housework!
This brings us to the question: should a man help with housework?
For the love of God, if you want to hear less from your partner about being a lazy asshole, then do your housework.
Screw the stigma and get it done. Take life by the horns and don’t rely on your partner to handle this part of your life.
Believe it or not, it feels good knowing that you can rely on yourself to get things done. It feels even better not to receive an earful from your partner every day because you did what you had to do.
You earn huge points for stepping up, along with the gratification of knowing how badass you are. Start small and develop a habit.
Stay On A Schedule
Having a project that consumes most of my day helps with this. From the time I wake up, this is what my schedule looks like.
- Step 1 – Drop my kids off at daycare
- Step 2 – Make myself coffee and breakfast
- Step 3 – Jump on my laptop and get to work
At some point, I step away from my work and get chores done around the house. I have a list and get things done throughout the day.
I try staying focused on my family for the rest of the day and get the house back in order before bed. It only takes 10 minutes and sets the tone for tomorrow.
Don’t look past the importance of this. Men usually don’t do well at home for many reasons and tend to get bored, lazy, and depressed.
Like retirement, you need to keep yourself busy and motivated.
This is why starting an online business helps me get through the days. It doesn’t matter how small it is now or that it isn’t profitable. It gives me structure and focus.
I am learning Spanish via Duolingo.
With these things on my radar, I have no trouble staying busy and productive with my extra time.
Don’t forget what you’re doing this for. Remember your why.
This video from Simon Sinek is inspiring in many ways and applicable to your everyday life. I recommend watching it through but if you’re short on time, watch the first 30 seconds or so.
Over time, it becomes easy to forget why it is that we do the things that we do.
Maybe, you’ve never even stopped to consider your “why”. You’ve been doing things and reacting. Slow down for a minute and start living on purpose.
Why did you have kids? Why do you keep your kids? Why are you with your partner? Why did you fall for each other in the first place? What are we suffering for?
For me, I have to reimagine what my ideal life looks like and why I want that. Why is it worth struggling to get? Questions yourself and remember what is most important to you. Then ask yourself what you need to do to keep them.
A Glimpse Into Our Situation
I spend 70% of my day working on a new business that I am starting online. I spend the other 30% doing housework and running errands.
It didn’t start this way. I was completely engulfed at first trying to learn and produce. I was signing up for courses, watching videos, reading blogs, and focused like a madman. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn but I realized something. This wasn’t going to be a side project for me anymore.
I wanted this to become my full-time income and way of life. I started dreaming about founding a media agency and taking over the world. But I would need to start small. I understood that I wouldn’t be making any income for another twelve months. This left me in a tough spot, trying to convince my wife that this is worthwhile.
Feeling like I was against the clock, I needed the ability to sink 10-12 hours per day into this per day. I wanted to see the results. Then the problem emerged.
I was becoming a stay at home dad that doesn’t do housework, interact with my children, or be a supportive husband. I started to neglect the reasons why I wanted to do this in the first place. My wife and I were fighting on a daily basis. Her nagging drove me crazy and her calling me lazy, useless, and much worse added fuel to the flame.
Why doesn’t she understand I thought? The work that I’m doing is for our family. This is way more important than folding laundry for hours on end and scrubbing dishes.
We needed to find a balance. For the most part, we’ve found it.
I put together these tips for stay at home dads and working moms trying to do the same.
I wish you the best!