No matter how much of a supermom you are, it is also good for both your husband and your kids if Dad’s more involved in raising them. Nagging is definitely not the way to go (when is it ever?), so some of these tips might help.
1. Take baby steps It can be overwhelming for a new dad if he’s saddled with a screaming infant and he has no idea what to do. Anne Santos, children’s-book author and mom of Tiago, 6, suggests, “Slowly ease him in, and involve him in your parenting chores little by little. Give him books to read, and praise him for a job well done or at least for trying. This way, he won’t be too scared to step in and eventually step up.”
2. Take him along to the OB-gyn and pre-birth classes Even before babies arrives, begin working as partners so your hubby will know what’s going on and not feel like an outsider. He’ll understand his role from day one and know what to expect and what is expected from him. According to Andrean Garabedian, director of sales marketing and mom of Lily, 1, “if your marriage’s sole foundation is about partnership, why shouldn’t that go along with the next stage of your life as parents?”
3. Ask him to help you The best way to reel him in is simply ask. According to clinical psychologist and Miriam College associate professor Jerry Jurisprudencia, Ph.D., men will assume “[the mom] can do it better, and think, ‘if she doesn’t ask me to help her, then I’d just let her do it.” That’s why it’s important to ask him to help you out.
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Inez Velasquez, lawyer and mom to Lala, 8 months, agrees: “They don’t know what’s going on inside your head, how you feel, or what baby needs. I think that once husbands realize how badly wives need their help raising the kids, they would willingly become more involved.”
4. Send him parenting articles or videos While you may be reading parenting articles, he is most likely watching gadget videos. Ina de Vera, former primary-years educator and mom to Nacho, 17, Josh, 14, Emilio, 6, Amara, 3 and Cato, 6 months, says it’s important to learn together:
“We attend parent-education talks together or send each other interesting articles. In the case of busy dads, short videos seem to work better.”
5. Assign him certain tasks. “An agreement on shared parenting can be established with a specification of roles expected from each partner,” says Celia Aguila, Ph.D., chair of the Miriam College Department of psychology. “Each role can be established, taking into account the partner’s ability and availability to play the role. In doing so, gray areas such as who wakes up at night to change diapers or who babysits when the yaya is unavailable become clear.”
“My husband and I agreed that I would take care of feeding and bathing the baby, while he would take care of dirty diapers,” says Inez. “At night, I wake him up whenever the baby needs a diaper change. No matter what time it is, he always gets up to change Lala’s nappies without complaint.”
6. Involve kids in activities dad likes to do “My husband likes to water the plants and go for a night jog, and he still really enjoys his comic books. So the kids garden and go on evening strolls with him, and he keeps them entertained talking about comic-book characters and making up bedtime stories based on those,” relates Ina.
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“My husband Miko loves to cook, so he bakes cookies and cupcakes with the girls,” says Gabbi Pascual, mom to Natalia, 6, and Solenne, 3. “Their dad lets them help in sorting the ingredients and mixing the batter. Then he leaves them fully in charge of decorating.”
7. Have the kid ask dad for help “I tell my son that there are specific activities where papa is the expert at, so he and [his dad] Charlie do those things, such as coloring with markers, together,” says Treena Ongking, mom to Carlo, 3. She explains that this way, “Carlo asks Charlie to help or play with him,” so Dad can’t say no.
8. Lower your expectations Sometimes, when we notice that our men don’t do the job as well or as efficiently as we do, we swoop in and take over. Dr. Jurisprudencia says this is a bad idea. “Nagging your husband if he doesn’t do something right away would be a turn off,” he explains. “He might not meet your expectations, so don’t expect what he does with the kids to be the same as how you would do it.’
9. Set a Daddy playdate “Another way to involve Dad further is to involve his friends,” suggests Inez. “One of my husband Paolo’s closest friends has a daughter who is only six months older than Lala. Sometimes, our families meet up and have ‘family dates’. We went walking at the park one Sunday, and it was so heartwarming watching these two dads playing with their daughters while the mommies talked and traded mommy tips.”
10. Spend time together without mom “I let my husband spend a lot of time with Tiago so they can get to know each other and have a relationship just like a mom and child do- or as close to that as possible,” says Anne.
Inez’s husband is the one who insists on giving his wife a break: “On Mama’s days off, I would leave the baby with my husband. It’s great because Mama gets a break, while Daddy and Baby have alone time.”
Andrea and her husband take turns. “On Saturdays, they go to swim class together and that’s their thing,” she says. “There are weekends when he plays golf all day and I have her, but on another day, I get a day off, too.”
11. Give him a list You might have your child’s needs memorized. However, according to Dr. Jurisprudencia, husbands can be forgetful, so it’s important to make a list for him. Anne does this as well. If she’s going to leave her husband with her son, she makes sure there’s a detailed list he can consult.
12. Say thank you For a job well done (or even just a job wholeheartedly attempted), Dr. Aguila says to express your gratitude: “Acknowledge his contribution, reward his performance, and show that you trust him to be as competent as you when he has to take over some of your tasks.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Smart Parenting magazine.