Moms: Share the Load, Throw Away the Guilt

Mothers, let’s admit the to-do list for our household is of our own making. From cooking to shopping for groceries, cleaning and mothering.

I tell my daughters to find a man who can cook. I say this because I married one who really will only cook breakfast, canned soup, hot dogs and frozen pizza, and can make a sandwich. Perhaps if I did not show my skills early on, we would’ve starved. Perhaps my husband would have stepped up to the plate.

But my mother raised me to help cook for the family at a young age. So, I felt it was my duty when my own family came along. I was programmed. Along the way, however, I got tired of coming up with the meals, shopping for the meals and then making them. It really became a chore.

Now that the kids are gone for the most part, my cooking has really consisted of maybe twice a week and special occasions. Grace is on track with not learning to cook. Largely, she has not had to. When she is home, she guilts me into cooking if I bring home takeout too many times during the week.

Paige is growing her culinary skills. It’s a matter of being healthy, she says. I will give her this —the boyfriend she has now can cook and will cook with her, so let’s hope she sticks with that program, whether it’s with him or someone else.

When it came to cleaning, over the years I mostly did it because my husband didn’t do it up to my standards. The kids didn’t do it up to my standards. I did have someone come in to help at one time, but I found myself cleaning before the housekeeper got there. So, what was the point?

Now that the kids are gone, I have been slacking and guess what? My husband is picking up the slack. He actually mops the floor. He does his laundry (not mine). He vacuums (OK, he did that before). No, I do not feel guilty. However, when my children are home, they talk about how Daddy does all of the cleaning.

Where were they when I was doing most or all of it? How quickly they forget.
I hear new mothers all the time talking about how tired they are from being up for night feedings and more. I remind them that they have a partner in crime and that if they are pumping milk, there is no reason that their husbands can’t feed the baby. But that’s what we do. We convince ourselves that we are more capable. And so it is.

Couples have their own ways of sharing household and parenting duties. Fathers usually sign up for the things they are interested in, like getting the children to their sporting activities. Thank goodness for that. But how about attending the birthday parties? Buying the gifts for the parties? Mothers must insist. But we don’t, because, let’s face it, many us think fathers will pick up the wrong kind of gift, even though we have given explicit directions.
Sometimes I wonder if there is a conspiracy, if married men tell new husbands, “When she asks you to clean the bathroom or anything else, do a really poor job of it and you’ll never be asked again.”

Mothers could get a movement going with #Youcandoittoo #Guiltnomore. Will it take off?

I may take heat for these opinions. My point is, mothers, don’t set yourself up for taking on all the work to the point of being exhausted, burnt out and angry. Share the load. Insist on it. More importantly, allow yourself to do it.

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