To say we don't really buy into traditional gender roles in our family is a bit of an understatement. My husband and I share household responsibilities relatively equally and often surprise people, like when they learn that I renovated our bathroom and my husband makes dinner and school lunches. My husband is a great dad. It's one of the things I love most about him. That said, there are a few things I don't want my partner's help with when it comes to parenting. Why? I'm better at them. I'm kidding. Rather, because there are some situations where a second cook in the kitchen seriously gets in the way. Literally.
I mean, if I'm cooking dinner I really don't want my husband's help. Honestly, it will be frustrating for both of us. Then, of course, there are tasks like bedtime and the morning routine, where adding another parent to the mix will create stress instead of value. It seems like every time I tell our son he can't wear shorts when it's 50 degrees, he replies, "Well, but dad already said I could wear them." So frustrating. Speaking of saying no, I'm pretty sure our kids have now reached ages where "asking dad if mom says no" is pretty much part of their daily routine. Which is why I always ask, "Did you ask your dad?" before giving a response.
With a few exceptions (cloth diaper laundry, I see you), it's not that my husband isn't fully capable of doing most parenting tasks. Believe me when I say that I seriously hate the trope of dads being clueless and suck at being parents. It's just that in most situations, I've already got it handled, so when he offers to help it feels like he thinks I'm not doing it right. Then, when he jumps in to assist, he often gets in the way or makes things harder than they would have been by myself. I have to weigh whether or not to let him know and to find a way to do it without hurting his feelings. Balancing a healthy marriage and co-parenting is sometimes hard AF. Here are a few times when I actually don't want his help.
I have washing cloth diapers down to a science. I came up with a routine I liked so much that I printed instructions and posted them by the washer. Even so, the routine can still require some tweaking once in a while that I am able to do on the fly, but my partner honestly has no clue how to do. It's just easier (and better for our marriage), if I handle them. I really don't mind.
If I'm cooking dinner for our kids, I don't want my husband's (or anyone's) help. There's not enough room in our kitchen, it throws me off my groove, and it makes me nervous to have an audience. Like, until I have my own show on the Food Network, I don't want people watching me cook, and I certainly don't want to hear comments about what our kids will or won't eat. I will keep offering veggies until they are off to college.
Talking To Our Children About Their Periods
I'm not suggesting that my partner can't learn about periods and other health issues that he hasn't experienced and impart that knowledge, but I do think it can be embarrassing, and even sometimes pointless, for a kid to conversations to me.
If I am disciplining our kids — which in our house looks more like redirection and natural consequences, than punishment — the only thing I want my husband to do is back me up. Period.
When it comes to communicating boundaries to our kids, and giving permission to do things like leave the yard, have a friend over, or have screen time, the parent who will have to enforce the rules that day should really be the one to decide what they are and communicate them to the kids.
Managing The Morning
I vastly prefer one parent to work with each kid through the morning routine. This avoids having to hear the aforementioned, "Well, but dad said" and also makes sure that we cross everything off our checklist so we don't have to ask things like, "Did he brush his teeth, yet?" and, "Who has had breakfast?"
The same goes for bedtime. If one parent manages each kid there are fewer drinks of water and other stalling activities. If there's a situation where I need or want help, I like to be able to "tag out," but for the most part I like to do these things solo.
Maybe it's the 30 years of braiding my Barbie's hair, but I am so much better at doing the kids' hair than my partner. He, on the other hand, is so much better at dealing with lice. That one is all yours, honey. (I'm kidding.)
Being An Audience For Parenting Fails
Sometimes co-parenting can feel like messing up with an audience, and that really sucks. There are some things I would rather do on my own, for instance, convincing my daughter to wear a certain outfit for pictures or getting her to take a bath (she's in a no bathing phase), where I don't want an audience or even a cheer leading section.
Pretty Much Anything I Am Currently Doing Fine On My Own
Once I have already started a parenting task, most of the time I really don't want my partner to jump in and try to help. Seriously, I've got this. Plus, and trust me when I say, if I need help I'm not shy about asking. In the meantime, keep your distance and try not to offer me friendly advice, unless you want a death glare in return, of course.