Question: I have been married 7 years. I have 3 kids, and I work full time. I am going to school one night a week to try and finish my degree. My husband used to work with his dad, but had a fight with him, so now he pretty much stays home. Since I have so much on my plate, we decided that he would not look for another job, but instead would take care of the house stuff. The problem is, he doesn't do it. Sure, he is home with the kids, but he does not feed them, or clean up after them, do laundry, dishes, or anything else. When I get home from work, I always have to feed the family, clean up the house, help the kids with homework, and then do my own homework. I am so sick of having to do everything. I want my husband to step up and do something. How can I encourage him to not be so lazy?
Answer: It sounds like you have made it really easy for him to be lazy. While not every man will do this, men tend to only do the bare minimum. The only way to get your husband to be less lazy is to make him. You should not have to be full time mom, student, and full time breadwinner. It is his family too, and it is time he stepped up and took some responsibility. Unfortunately, the most effective way to make this happen is to treat him like a child.
Our suggestion, make him a list. Make a list of everything you need him to do each day. The more specific you are, the better. So, create a schedule so he knows when to put your kid down for a nap. Write down how many movies the kids can watch each day. Write down that the kids need dinner by 5, and that you need dinner to be cleaned up by 6:30.
Your husband may not love being handed a list, but they are far less likely to let you down if you are specific about what things you want them to do each day. Just remember that he may be new to handling everything with the house, so start out slow, and work your way up. Give him a chance to adjust to this new responsibility.
Next, make sure that you are lavish in your praise. Even though you have probably been doing all of those same things for years without thanks, he is going to get resentful, and be less likely to go the extra mile if you do not recognize him for his efforts. So, if you come home to kids in pajamas, be sure to thank him, tell him how much it means to you to not have to deal with that since you have already had a long hard day. Avoid any criticism, as this will make him do less, not more. That is just how men work.
Lastly, make it as easy as you can for him. You do a lot, but you can do less if you do the right things. He may not put them in pajamas because he can't find them. He may not fix dinner because he doesn't know what to make. So, put together some meals and freeze them so that all he has to do is heat them up. Lay the kids clothes out, and label where things are so that he can always find them. It will be easier for him, and you will be able to do less.