Dads, show your kids that Mums can also be fun.
We dads always think that we’re being very loving and considerate when we plan activities during the weekend that will take the kids away from the house and allow the moms time to rest.
First of all, This Dad Can would like to say respect for the effort. Being insulated from the chaos that moms traditionally commonly live with on a daily basis, it’s understandable that we think it’s a gift that we can bestow on our partners. Moms truly do appreciate these moments of peace and quiet now and again.
However, it would be less than correct to say its an arrangement which she prefers. Just think for a minute about the message it’s sending to our kids. The mom usually is the one who:
- has to make sure that the kids get to school on time.
- has to ensure that they eat healthy food.
- has to say no to the kids wearing too much makeup or wearing particular clothes.
- has to nag the kids to get away from a screen and do their homework.
The message is that the mom is the enforcer. She’s the strict and stringent parent. But she shouldn’t be. Both parents should set the rules and boundaries for the kids.
The even more tragically unfair message that the kids get from such an arrangement is that moms are boring and dads are cool.
Dads, you know for a fact that this isn’t the case. Or are you saying, you got with your kids’ mother even though she was boring?
Mommy Fun Times
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be seen as Daddy Fun Times, however, don’t deprive your kids of the chance to get to know their mother in Mommy Fun Times too. Most of all, don’t deprive them of the chance to see the two of you together having fun with them.
My father often said that everybody wants to do the glamour jobs—the ones that give you a sense of accomplishment (painting the garage) rather than the hard work (scraping off the old, loose paint)—or the fun jobs, so he made sure we did and saw him doing both.
My father often shopped for food and prepared the meals. He came home from work first, so it was partly practical, but he would spend hours on a Saturday making a whatever-is-in-the-fridge soup.
He didn't just mow the lawn; he weeded, levelled uneven ground, even dug up an old tree stump. By the end of the day, he was covered in dirt and mud.
Sometimes he drove my brothers to hockey practice or took me and my sister to a horror film matinee, but most often we did those fun things together as a family: Mommy and Daddy Fun Times.
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Since that isn't always possible, how can you design activities that would give the Moms respite, but also provide distracting learning experiences for the kids? There are a couple of ways.
First, there are the activities that help mom, so that she can take a load off, such as any traditional roles still undertaken by her:
- cleaning the house
- washing the cars
- doing a load of laundry
- doing the shopping
- buying essential items for the home or gifts.
Dads traditionally can do the more physical aspects of these chores, and the children can help. For example, we Dads can move and clean under the heavy furniture. Wash the cars manually, wash the dogs and do the laundry.
If you do these chores, it not only gives mom a rest; it also can be an important life lesson because it debunks the myth of assigning tasks based solely on gender. It’s the new millennium. Get with the program! Show the kids that dad can do the same chores that mom does.
In fact, it would be best if dad did these essential household activities regularly, even if it's just on the weekends, so the kids will see that all adults—including dads—have to do them. If you get your kids to join in these tasks, too, they’ll get a feel for them.
Besides, it’s a good opportunity to get to know them better. There’s nothing like accomplishing tasks together to make a situation conducive to conversation and sharing our views on life.
Dads can—and should—also oversee the kids' homework and projects over the weekend.
Don't worry if you’re not the homework type. You are not supposed to really do the work for the kids. They are the ones in the classroom, they are the ones being graded, and they probably are much better at Google than you. Your job is to sit with them and support them to do it.
If you’re into reading, ask if there’s a reading task. Get another copy of the book and read it, too. (If mom is into reading, get a third copy.) You can discuss it with them afterwards.
Sometimes my dad and I—and sometimes mom, too—would read a story aloud together, taking turns. Sharing insights from the book can be more enjoyable when done as a family. It’s also a good way to show the kids that schoolwork is important to both mom and dad.
A Well-Deserved Break for Mom
Then there are the Set B activities. These are the ones that we dads like doing. Playing football in the park. Watching a sport on the TV, being active, biking, fishing, and camping.
The media has done moms a huge injustice by depicting these as male-oriented activities limited to dad-and-kids only or that moms don't like them. What moms don’t like is:
- Going to the park but being expected to bring the water, the extra clothes, the baby bag, and the snacks.
- Going camping but being expected to do all the cooking and cleaning up—as if the campgrounds were an extension of the house—or having to be the one to tell the kids to wash up and go to bed.
The really considerate dad would divvy up the work—with him doing most of it—so that the mom can truly feel that it’s a break for her. Share the tasks and activities that way and you’ll see your kids’ mother more enthusiastic about your passions!
The key to all this is communication. The next time you think of recreational activities for you and the kids, ask your partner how the activities can be tweaked so that she can join in and have fun, too.
Patrick is a part of the This Dad Can community. Patrick is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.
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