Feeling resentful when your husband doesn’t help with the baby because he works? Learn what to do to get him to help you around the house.
A shower. Running an errand. Even taking a 30-minute break from everything. These are all starting to feel like luxuries you practically have to pull teeth to get, except it’s not because you’re alone. It’s because your husband doesn’t help the baby.
He won’t change diapers unless you ask, and even then, he gives you a hard time about it. The same is true with feeding the baby and even giving him attention. You can’t get him to clean, cook meals, or help with the laundry.
No wonder you’re exhausted and never have time for yourself.
Sure, you’re grateful you can stay home with the baby, but your husband doesn’t realize that while he holds a 9-to-5 job five days of the week, yours is 24/7.
When your husband doesn’t help with the baby because he works
It’s easy to let this situation get out of control that you start to resent your husband for not helping with the baby. He might even get mad when you ask him to help you around the house. Even worse? He doesn’t even seem interested in your baby at all.
While it’s easy to judge, especially when more fathers are taking an active role, this situation runs deeper than changing diapers.
Your husband may have grown up with stereotypical gender roles, setting his expectations today. He may not even know how to do chores, much less care for a baby, especially if his mother had done everything for him.
And he might even draw his sense of identity as a provider—doing anything else can tarnish the image he has pictured so clearly in his mind.
Still, no matter the reason, letting this fester too long isn’t good for anyone involved, including the baby. Take a look at these tips to turn things around and get your relationship back on track:
1. Give your husband time alone with the baby
One reason for your husband’s resistance to caring for the baby—even for a mere 30 minutes—is that he hasn’t had much practice to do so. Rather than face the disappointment and frustration of, say, not being able to soothe him to sleep, he’d rather hand him over to you to take care of the issue.
The problem, however, is that he’ll never have a chance to practice those skills and bond with the baby. The more the baby fusses, the less your husband wants to participate. But this lack of practice is exactly what causes the baby to fuss and cry with him in the first place.
The solution? Give them time alone.
Run an errand and leave the baby home with dad. Know that you’ll come home to a mess, with plenty of complaints about how the baby didn’t sleep. Don’t feel guilty for going out, and instead see it as one more opportunity they had to spend time together.
And it going to be messy. Remember when you were learning what to do? Your husband now has to go through the same challenges himself. Let him see how difficult it is to care for the baby—he’ll start to appreciate what you go through. If anything, it’s better than doing nothing and fostering resentment.
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2. Put “his” chores aside
With dinner prepared and his laundry washed and ironed, who could blame your husband for wanting to change the situation? No wonder you barely have time to take a shower or make yourself a cup of tea when these chores are on the forefront.
But what if you put his chores aside and prioritize yours and the baby’s?
Let’s say you usually cook when the baby naps, but you haven’t showered in two days. Rather than cooking, take that shower. When dinner time rolls around and he asks where the food is, let him know you weren’t able to cook because you had to take a shower during the baby’s nap.
Or let’s say the baby is down for the night and that’s when you usually iron clothes. Let him know you’re going to do the other chores you weren’t able to get to. Should he want a clean shirt for the next day, he’s more than welcome to iron it.
At some point, he’ll see that he too has to pitch in.
A good rule of thumb? Both parents should be doing chores or relaxing for the night. He can’t kick up his feet on the recliner if you’re still wiping the kitchen counters.
3. Be clear on the division of labor
Now, let’s say you actually want to have specific tasks set for each person—you’d rather be the one to feed the baby and cook the meals. If so, sit down with your husband and write down the division of labor. Do this when you’re both calm, not when you’re about to ask for something.
Write particular chores and who’ll do what. For instance, you’ll be the one to breastfeed the baby while he changes diapers at night. Or if one parent cooks a meal, the other washes the dishes. Maybe you alternate night feedings—he handles Mondays through Wednesdays while you take care of the rest of the week.
That way, you both feel like you’re contributing your best selves to the household and dividing household chores fairly.
4. Don’t micromanage
Do you re-load the dishwasher because your husband set the plates north-south (instead of east-west like you usually do)? Are you prone to snatching the baby away from him when he can’t get him to stop crying?
Part of the reason he might not be willing to help is because you’ve criticized his efforts in the past. He can only take so much correcting and nagging before tuning out.
Let’s say you decide to leave them alone to run an errand. Don’t give him a hard time if he couldn’t get the baby to nap, or ask him why he mixed the oatmeal cereal with water instead of breastmilk like you said. He’ll make mistakes, no doubt. So long as he’s trying his best, let most of it go.
5. Consider counseling
In some cases, you might want to consider going to counseling to get to the root of the issue.
Your husband might actually be depressed about the massive changes that parenthood has brought. You both could have different expectations based on how you grew up.
A therapist will help you sort underlying causes that are rupturing your relationship. She’ll also serve as a neutral third person who can spot cracks and, more importantly, offer solutions you may not be able to see.
If your husband isn’t willing to go to counseling, consider going for yourself. That way, you can find the support and clarity you need in this moment.
Today, more and more fathers are taking a hands-on role in parenting. Just a few decades ago, even pushing a stroller would be taboo for many of them. Nowadays, you’ll see dads wearing baby carriers and waking up to handle nighttime feedings.
But if your husband doesn’t help with the baby because he works the next day, you’ll likely need to take a few steps to remedy the situation. Give him time alone with the baby to build his confidence and show him what you go through. Put “his” chores aside and prioritize your own.
Be clear about the division of labor and expectations you both have of each other. Avoid micromanaging his efforts, focusing instead on allowing him to develop his own methods of caring for the baby. And finally, consider going to counseling, if not for the both of you, at least for yourself.
It’s never easy when your husband doesn’t help with the baby because he works. But you shouldn’t accept it as the way it is. Instead, take that shower, run that errand, and give yourself that 30-minute break—you more than deserve it.
Get more tips:
- How to Survive the Newborn Stage
- Why Dads Should Wake Up for Night Feeds
- The Best Advice for New Parents (From Parents Who’ve Been There)
- How to Work Through Parenting Disagreements (without Losing Your Mind)
- Top Baby Stuff for Dads He’ll Actually Use
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