When my husband and I first got married, he didn’t help out around the house much.
It’s not like I really blame him. He was working out of town all week while I stayed home with one sweet baby who was actually really easy to care for. He only made a fraction of the mess and I had all week to clean–it’s not like I needed (or wanted) a lot of help.
These days, though, things look a little different.
Now we have three children who–at 6, 2 and 6 months–require quite a bit of time and energy to care for! I work from home and he works both in and out of the home (which is awesome!). It’s fun–but it’s busy. And it’s messy. And it’s tiring.
And he helps out a lot. Which is also awesome.
Unfortunately, however, I know a lot of moms aren’t so lucky.
You want your husband to help out more, but he just won’t. Either he flat out refuses, he always forgets or he simply doesn’t realize you need help.
The good news is, if you’d like your husband to pitch in more, you can probably convince him to do so. You just have to go about it the right way.
The following tips are not meant to be used to manipulate your husband or to make him do all the work so you can just lay around and eat bon bons. But if you truly need help and you need help asking for it in a loving and respectful way–these tips will help.
1. Have an Honest Conversation
First of all–does your husband KNOW that you want additional help around the house? Even if it seems obvious to you, it really may not be to him, especially if you’ve never actually sat down and told him.
(I am NOT saying that men are incompetent AT ALL–it just honestly may not have really registered to him, he may assume you’re doing a great job and not see a problem, or he may have simply forgotten.)
A passing comment here and there about how much mess the kids make or how you feel like you can never get it all done does not count. After all, these comments could just as easily mean that you just want to vent, that you want the kids to keep food in the kitchen or that you’re just looking for some encouragement.
If you want actual hands-on help, you need to be able to sit down and actually tell him that.
2. Be Brave Enough to Ask–and Get Specific!
Next, don’t just say “You need to help out more!” and leave it at that. Be brave enough to ask for specifically what you need.
For example, do you need your husband to take the kids to the park on Saturday afternoons so you can work on massively decluttering the house or would you like him to drop by the store on the way home so you don’t have to load the babies in the car? Do you need help with the meal planning, would you like him to load his dishes into the sink instead of leaving them in the bedroom, or would you like some help folding the massive pile of laundry that won’t go away?
Your husband is not a mind-reader. You can’t just leave the pile of laundry and expect him to just magically know that you want him to do it instead of assuming that you just haven’t gotten around to it yet. And saying “Pick up after yourself more!” means different things to different people.
Before you ask for help, figure out exactly what tasks you want help with. Then let him know.
3. Be Polite, Show Plenty of Appreciation, and Give Positive Feedback
No one likes to be ordered around or made to feel less than. Everyone likes to be appreciated. Tearing your husband down, insulting him or ordering him around is not going to work. Build him up instead! Much more effective and nicer for both of you.
Do NOT tell him (either directly or indirectly):
- You never do anything around here
- I can’t trust you to help out around here
- I have to order you around like a child to get you to do anything around here
- What I’m doing is more important than whatever you’re doing
- I’ve asked you a million times!
- You’re failing/you’re a failure.
Instead, use a very friendly tone that shows him you really appreciate all of his help:
- Could you please brush the boys’ teeth so I can change baby’s diaper?
- I’m so exhausted. Do you think you could finish loading the dishwasher so I could hit the hay early tonight?
and then, after he helps out…
- Thank you so much for all of your help last night! I really appreciate it! It’s so great to have a husband I can count on!
- I really appreciate you stopping by the store on your way home yesterday. It means a lot to me when you go out of your way for me like that.
- Thanks for putting the boys to bed last night. I know you must have been exhausted after work. You’re such a great dad–always putting our family first.
Instead of pointing out all of the things he doesn’t do–point out all of the things he DOES do. If you can’t think of anything, you’re not trying hard enough. Even if he doesn’t do any housework, does he go to work every day and then come straight home? Even if he doesn’t work, is he actively looking for a job? If he sits around on the couch in his underwear all day–well, he isn’t out cheating if he’s always home, so there’s that… Think of something.
4. Start Small and Work Your Way Up
If your husband is used to letting you take care of everything around the house, you may have to start small. Find tasks that are easy or convenient to do or that he wouldn’t mind as much. Try asking when he’s in a good mood anyways, and when you’re clearly busy doing something else.
- Will you take the trash out on your way out the door, please?
- Will you grab the mail on your way back in from work, pretty please? I don’t like taking baby out when it’s this cold.
- Can you help me carry this laundry down the stairs? I’ll throw it all in, I just always worry I’m going to fall down the stairs when I carry it.
- Will you keep an eye on the boys in the bath for a minute so I can finish cleaning up the kitchen real fast? They won’t need anything, just an eye to make sure they stay seated.
Don’t start with the more complicated tasks like creating inexpensive meal plans or switching out the kids’ clothes for the new season. At least, not right at first.
5. Accept that You’re Always Going to Have to Do Some Things Yourself
While the previous four tips will help in most cases, there are probably some tasks your husband is never going to do, and that’s okay! The point is not to convince him to serve you all day long and do everything you ask him to do, but just to get a little help when you really need it.
Instead of focusing on the things he doesn’t do, go out of your way to focus on all of the things he DOES do.
- Does he go to work every day?
- Does he throw his clothes in a pile instead of leaving them all over the house?
- Does he bring his dishes to the kitchen instead of leaving them in the bedroom?
- How many things does he do that you don’t even have any idea? (Probably lots)
If you take the time to really see things from his perspective and to acknowledge all of the things he DOES do, the few things he doesn’t suddenly won’t seem so bad.
And if none of that works, you could always go with this sure-fire technique: “Man, I really wish we could have sex more often, but I’m always SO exhausted after taking care of the kids and house all day. Do you think you could help with bedtime tonight so I could rest up and make sure I’m ready for a fun night tonight? *wink wink* ” 🙂
Does your husband help out around the house very often or not as much as you’d like? Do you struggle to politely ask him for help? What other tips do you have for moms who feel like they are doing it all alone?
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