Whether by tradition, by habit or because we suffer from the Supermom syndrome, many moms take responsibility for everything that must be done around the house. But after a while, completely exhausted, they ask for help because they cannot manage to do it any longer!
The famous year off that is not “off”!
First, there is this famous maternity leave that is not as free as it would seem. Of course, the new mom doesn’t have to go to work anymore and doesn’t have to drive back and forth from home to work but when you add up giving birth, breastfeeding, colic, discomforts, sleepless nights, stimulation, chores and education, we are talking about a full-time job here, even if we don’t count the hours spent working for our family.
Then, in most families, parents go back to work. At that point, to all the tasks listed above, you can add work – called real work, because it is paid – driving and the entire organisation that is necessary to fit all this in the same schedule. How many times have I told my famous joke about the “night shift” because working days and evenings wasn’t enough? I was joking but deep down I meant that I needed help! I could not make it alone!
Maybe our husbands are wonderful and we live in an era where tasks are shared among couples but like Yvon Deschamps, a comedian from Montreal, used to say about sharing tasks, “My wife bakes pies and I eat them…”
Let’s face it, women cannot do everything; daddy is capable of many things and must do his share both it caring for the children and cleaning up. We must learn to let go and realize that what we are facing is fatigue and depression and despite our devotion, we will receive no medal for everything we have done before achieving complete exhaustion!
Before blaming the dads for their lack of involvement, perfect moms that we are, we must humbly admit that we are responsible for this situation. We cannot accept that the house is not taken care of the way our own mom has shown us. We find it hard to trust dads when they take care of children. The list of recommendations is super long when we must leave for a few hours – feeding our guilt, right? – including stuff like what children must eat, when they must sleep and where we have put everything that could be useful!
Letting go is much easier with our second baby but it would be great if we could let go from the very beginning, with our first child!
We must stop thinking that our husbands are incompetents that couldn’t do a thing without us – I am sorry to say it like that but that’s what we often think! – and we must stop thinking that the world would come to an end if everything was not perfect around us, as if our reputation was being challenged every day! Believe a woman who went through a huge burnout for trying to do everything and spare a dad who worked a lot! Since then, I have healed… and divorced! Don’t be like me! React before it’s too late!
Little tips to get help!
- Before birth or as soon as possible – right now would be a great time! – have a good conversation with your husband about the famous (or infamous!) housework sharing. If you expect to breastfeed, your husband’s help is crucial! When you breastfeed, you don’t have much time to clean up, cook, wash everybody’s clothes and go out shopping. Stop thinking that having a year off will give you all the time in the world.
- As soon as baby arrives, let his dad take care of a few things like the bath, diapers, hugs, naps… It is true that he may be less skilled than you but if you never let him, he will never learn!
- Dare to leave for a few hours or even for a full day without preparing anything! Does your husband draw a list of everything you have to do while he is away to play hockey? No? Well he will manage, maybe not the way you would want him to, but he will! You have not chosen an imbecile to be the father of your children!
- If you are a single mom, you may have to take care of more things but don’t wait until you are exhausted to seek help. Clinics, community services, support groups and babysitting services are there to give you a hand.
- Forget about everything that used to seem necessary before you had a child, like having a spotless house at all times! All the home décor magazines that were about to come in and take pictures under your couch will have to wait!
- When you already have children, keep in mind that you are not helping them by doing everything for them. You are their mom, not their maid and very young, they can start doing their part. They don’t have to be in college to be able to make their bed!
- Don’t hesitate to ask your stepmom, mom or community services for help.
Your children can help!
Depending on the age of your child, the following tasks will not be performed perfectly but you must initiate them while they are young or they will never learn! Many of these tasks will require supervision at first.
Between 3 and 5 years old
- Putting away their toys when they are done playing.
- Performing little tasks when you are cleaning up.
- Simple bathroom care like washing hands and brushing teeth.
Between 6 and 8 years old
- Basic body care.
- Choosing clothes for the following day.
- Putting dirty clothes in the laundry bin.
- Making his bed.
- Setting the table and taking his plate away.
- Folding towels and some clothes.
Between 8 and 10 years old
- Rinsing his bath and putting away his bath toys
- Using a vacuum cleaner or a broom
- Drying the dishes, emptying the dishwasher
- Putting away the groceries
- Waking up and getting ready on his own
- Putting clothes away
- Washing hair
- Feeding an animal
- Taking out the trash