Getting dad to share household duties - FamilyEducation
Getting dad to share household duties
05/09/2007 at 11:02 AM

Both my husband and I work full-time, yet I am always the one who picks up the kids, prepares the dinner, and does most of the other household chores. How can I get my husband to do his share?  

Hey scoobdy,


I have to say you have asked a hard question.  I have many friends who struggle with this same problem.  All I can tell you is that I believe strongly that people live up to our expectations of them and that if you make it clear to your husband that you expect him to pull his weight in the chores and child care that he will start doing more.


Have you always just been the one who volunteered to do it without asking him to do anything or do you ask and he refuses?




Hi Marti

I ask him to help and he says he will but it never really works out that way. If I ask him, can you please take care of dinner tonight, then his way of taking care of it is to order something and go pick it up. Which is fine evry now and then but not always so healthy. He does put my daughter to bed every night, so that is great. But while he is doing that I am doing the dishes and cleaning up! It's not like I am getting a break.



Sometimes men need lists.

My husband and I would go 'round and 'round with that same issue. I work full time ( weekend doubles) and study for my RN during the week. My husband is a part to full time student ( depends on the type of class he has to take-  if he takes studio classes, he only goes part time).

Every Monday would be the same argument: " Why don't you help me in the house? Why can't you pick up after yourselves?" My daughter is 12 and perfectly capable of picking up after herself.

 It turns out that all he needed was a list. Although I find that rather annoying personally ( I mean, don't you see that you need to pick up your things, or that the dishes need to be washed?), I stll made him a list of everything I wanted to have done so that I could do my deep cleaning on Mondays.

Works out so much better. Now I can go right on to cleaning, instead of spending two hours every Monday morning picking up the things everyone else has left around.

Maybe you could take turns washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.? Then, the chores would be evenly distributed,and also get done more quickly, and you both could have time to relax in the evening.

Hope this helps,



I understand what you are all saying.  I am having the same issues but instead my husband works part time on the weekend and is a stay at home dad during the week to two kids, about to be three in two months.  I have made lists, made him aware of what needs to be done, etc. and still just fighting happens.  Saying that he is tired and it is hard to clean with kids at home.  Any ideas on how I can get him to help.


Hey Angelicos I can totally relate to whatg you are saying. I work full time, have 3 children aged 11, 10 and 4. I have been with my partner for 7 years and he is the father of our 4 year old, my older two are from a previous marriage.  He is a bus driver so works doing a school run for 1 hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon.  The two older children are in school and the youngest goes to nursery in the mornings. He collects the older two from school and he drives the bus that brings them home, he takes our youngest with him. He does hardly anything around the house although i'll give him his due he makes the kids tea each night but not much else. I have quite a stressful job and spend all weekend washing and ironing, cleaning the house and making sure the kids uniforms are ready etc etc, do I need to go on!!!!

Anyway i've told him i'm exhaused and would appreciate some help, i leave him lists in the mornings and only occasionally does he help out. If this isn't bad enough I also have to remember to do everything, e.g. my middle child (boy) has ADHD and he never remembers to re-order his medication which means I constantly have to think about whether he needs more, I have to make sure that the bills are paid, letters posted, kids have their PE kids, packed lunches etc.

He says he doesn't sit around doing nothing all day and may cut the grass or to make it worse somebody else's grass, how do I get him to realise where the priorities lie - i'm exhaused and constantly fall asleep on the sofa at 9pm and don't feel as though I have the time or the inclination to do anything for me



         hi Lisa , youre discription of your family sounds like mine and alot of other women out here.I have three children also and my husband doesnt do much either around the house that is .So I had to say to myself  self he is  an excellent father  and he doesnt ask for much .I think you are fortunate that your 4 yr olds father is taking on the responsability of your other two children most men would not do that. You are the mother of hree children no one said it was easy it is your  motherly duty to take care of them however i think your 10 and11 year old need a chore list have them help you out  that way you will not have to do everything .also what I do is make time for myself on my day Igo shopping or get a massage  a pedicure or manicure you owe it to youself.Like the old saying goes :  If Mom is happy everybody"s Happy   good luck


This is a huge problem with our generation. I feel pretty lucky compared to some of my friends. It seems almost mideval the way men expect us to be their domestic slaves. I sure hope the next generation of men are taught differently. Which brings up a big question. What are you teaching your children about the roles of women and men? They are learning by watching you two. If you can't solve it on your own, go to a professional quickly before you perpetuate the tendancy.

I'm not saying I've got it figured out, but I think I had the advantage of being raised by a single mom. There was no man that sat around not doing much, so when I got married I was shocked by my husband's behavior (he was raised by a stay-at-home mom) and let him know it. We have a great relationship because we use a lot of humor in our lives, but I don't think he will ever shake the idea that I am not the same mother he had (I work full-time).  Oh well.

What I did was just stand my ground. I refuse to be the domestic slave and if he is unhappy he can hire a maid and cook. (Actually, though, he offered to hire a weekly maid and I told him that I thought that might teach our boys that it was some one else's responsibility to clean, and they would not learn to clean up themselves. This made my husband really think.)  I still clean a lot, but after 21 years of marriage I told him that that was the end of me cooking. I was just too stressed out with my very difficult job as a teacher. I wasn't putting much effort into cooking and no one was happy with my meals. My two boys and husband were in shock because they know I mean what I say. I haven't cooked in over a year. It could have been a disaster, but guess what?? My husband loves to cook. He even asked for a subscription to Cooking Light magazine for Christmas AND he actually follows the recipes. He is so much better at it than I am. He also does all the grocery shopping. (He says he gets a lot of attention from the other women shopping, so he enjoys it. ) Now, my 19-year-old son is competing with him over who is the best cook (How many of you have been reading Zits comic this week? That's my son and husband exactly.)

When my husband teases me and calls me domestically challenged because I can't seem to keep up with keeping the house too clean (2 teenage boys, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 rabbit) I just laugh. Yup. I'm not June Cleaver for sure. But my boys are learning that women have the right to living rich, interesting lives as much as they do. I don't care if the house is a wreck. If my friend calls me up and asks me to go for a bike ride, I'm going. If my husband wants to go kayaking with the boys, I'm going too!  There have been a couple weekends this spring when I never picked up the vacuum, but we had a wonderful time together.

I am concerned. I have a good friend who has a nice husband, but very "old school" as my husband calls him. It is going to be a lot harder for her. I hope it doesn't take her getting ill for him to learn to do his own laundry, shop, cook and clean. For him it is a matter of his manhood, and he will tell you that. She has a much tougher climb. My husband is not so insecure about whether or not people think he's "macho".

I would also like to add that we women should be thinking about future generations of women. I will be mad as heck if I find out my sons treat their wives like domestic slaves. They will have "hell toupee". I don't care how old they are. I am still their mother and a woman. If they are 50 and expecting their wives to wait on them hand and foot I will let them have it even if I'm 80. It is wrong, plain and simple.

I don't know if this showed up in your paper today, but its on the front page of mine. According to am 88-page report from the Pew Research Center, the 3rd most significant factor in a successful marriage is.... sharing household chores.  62% of everyone polled in 2007 said that it was "very important", compared to 47% in 1990. So, if your husband thinks you're some kind of rebel, show him the report:

You don't actually have to read all of it, if you don't have the patience, but there is a nice graphic half-way down the first page to show you how the 2,002 people responded to the 9 factors.

Men don't realise that they should share the housework unless they receive specific instructions. Especially those who come from families where men do NOT need to do housework. My husband is a good example. I contributed more (in terms of house chores) to the household yet my financial contribution is comparative to my husband's. He has been working away from home since the last few years and he's back now for good. I had been grumbling to him (many many times)and now he asks for list of duties. Start with small delegation if he's not the 'homely' type who's willing to dirty their hands. I've had my struggle and still is.Now, I'm training my 2 boys (5 and 11)to lighten my burden. When Daddy sees that his boys are lending their hands, he's 'guilty' and starts to chip in. Not an overnight thing. But, changes can be seen slowly.

I began talking very frankly with my husband; for instance - I told him help the kids with homework or cook dinner, its your choice. He chose to help them with homework. I told him to help them with their baths/showers everynight or clean the kitchen. When I first started telling him what I needed help with one night he told me neither, I told him if he wants dinner he better choose. Now he always knows exactly what I need help with. On the other hand there have been a few times that he has told me he needs help and gives me a choice; it works both ways so be prepared to help him too.

My husband is a great help, but he always has to be asked to do something. He was raised in a family w/ old-fashioned values, where his mother did everything. While there's something to say for that, times have changed drastically. I'm a stay at home mom, but my kids have a pretty busy schedule. Therefore, I can only do so much. The one thing my husband will always do is wash the dishes. We made a deal that if I cook, he cleans up. So far, so good. I think the more I take on, the more my husband won't do. Sometimes he's clueless to the fact that I need help, so I have to ask. I used to hate asking b/c I cldn't understand how he cld be so blind, but now I'm just used to it. If I get upset and say he shld just know these things, he tells me he's not a mind reader. So to avoid arguing, I just ask.

Honestly, I understand where you're coming from. My ex would NEVER help me with anything. However, something I have learned about myself is that I did not present the need clearly enough to him. I believe relationships of any kind are dependant on communication. I finally (near the end...we had other issues too) decided to write down everything I did including going to work. He considered my time at work a cake walk (I supervise a drop in nursery and have up to 80 kids at one time with a lot of staff). After writing it all down, I asked him for a meeting. We sat at the table and I told him (with tears) how frustrated I was. I explained that on top of working full time, dealing with chronic migraines, having 2 kids at home that needed time with me, and having all the financial responsibility for our family, I also was responsible for everything inbetween, underneath, and around. I was literally working to death, sleeping only 4 hours a night. I told him I understood being a stay at home dad was a full time job but that I also needed his help or we would fail as a team. He changed a little and at least took some of the housework load off of me. My current DB is always asking me what he can do. Aside from doing the dishes from tiem to time and letting him take out the trash, I'm so used to doing more than my share that it feels weird to have help. I really don't know what kind of advice I can give but hopefully there might be something in here. :o) Good luck.

Maybe you could divide up the chores and each take the ones you prefer. It's really unfair that one of you carry all the weight. Discuss it with him, and I'm sure he'll realize how difficult his inaction has been for you.

u should just tell him straight out that you need help with some things like maybe picking up the kids...or sometimes making dinner...stuff like that he shouldn't have to complain about at all

Unfortunately, I can relate all too well to this discussion. I am at my wit's end asking my husband to pull his weight around the house. I work, he is self-employed and has a less demanding job with far fewer hours, yet he displays a total disregard for performing any clean-up, maintenance or general chores. When I ask him to do something, or remind him that he hasn't done it yet, I phrase it as pleasantly as possible, yet he always manages to take offense. His typical response when I ask him to do something the first, second, third and fourth times is "I will...", and of course, he doesn't do it. Eventually it comes down to either us having an argument over it, or me doing everything to avoid an argument, exhausting, (sometimes to the point of making myself sick,) myself, and then resenting him. I cannot get through to him and I have tried the list approach because I'm big on making lists for myself. He treats the lists like he does the verbal reminders- glances at them and says "I'll do it later." I cannot continue to pull the weight for myself, him and our toddler.

There are people looking for work right now. Sit down with your husband, wiggle the budget around together. Hire help.

Sex is always a good motivational tool. Sorry, just had to throw that in. It does work though. 8-)

Not for everyone........Wish it did though, a lot more would get done around here. Have found a motivator yet, but am still hopeful!

8-( Sorry.

I had the same problem with my husband. He is physics professor with an edgy internet start up, but as a physician, I am a busy woman, too It turns out that, what he won't do voluntarily, he will do if I delegate it to him properly. I began adding responsibilities directly to his google calender. He receives push notifications from google calender on his phone, and does what I ask. He's pretty good at entering everything into google calender, so between us, there are few times when our kids just have to hold tight after sports or school. More recently, I discovered the kids calender. This is an iPhone app which lets me manage the calenders of my two kids, and delegate responsibilities to any adults listed as caretakers within the application. It syncs with google calender (and outlook, but I don't use outlook), so it has been very easy to transition from my old system, to this new one. Plus, the interface is just beautiful. I'm not sure what the website is, but I'm sure you can find it if you google kid's calender iphone app, or dig around in the iphone store for the kid's calender.

I'm with Acitez. Hire help.

this seems like you are taking up the responsibilities yourself. just ask politely to your husband to do little household works and try to engage him in the kitchen area. keep on chatting so he does not feel bored. i ask my husband to certain things as i help him in our business. he seems to be very enthusiastic in helping me too because he also feels that i might have become tired too.

Thank you for the post. Hi guys, Im a newbie. Nice to join this forum.

Welcome, Kelly.

Welcome Kelly Stick around and check out the posts and continue to post and chat with us! Marti