5 Ways Working Dads Can Help Out Stay-At-Home Moms

In November 2008, my wife’s belly was at epic proportions, filled with my rapidly-forming son who was enjoying his last few weeks in his “womb with a view.” Simultaneously, my wife’s head was filled with all the thoughts and hopes and worries that come with being a new mommy. At the top of the list was a nagging question: “Am I going to stay home and stop going to the office once he’s born?”

It’s a big question, obviously. Even a heated topic in some circles. I would daresay you should throw it in with politics and religion as good topics NOT to bring up in a crowd. And it’s a question that had no answer for us, even up to the second prior to my son’s birth on December 6.

My wife was enjoying an extremely successful career as a marketing professional and consultant. She enjoyed her work and she was really good it. So while the thought of staying home and raising our latest edition was immensely attractive, the idea of not putting the skills and experiences she
had so honed over the years to good use wasn’t exactly the most appealing deal. It was a tough decision, so we just waited to make up our minds after our boy was born.

To be exact, we waited about five seconds after he was born. Standing there with my wife while our son entered the world, I witnessed a literal transformation of my wife becoming a mother instantly. And it was clear that she would be staying home to raise our boy.

So, over the past 20 months, we’ve enjoyed the blessings and forged our way through the obstacles of having a mom at home. And what lessons I’ve learned! Listed below are five of the biggest tips I can give any dad to help make your wife’s transition into stay-at-home mode as smooth as it can possibly be.

1. Start the Day the Right Way.

Mornings with a toddler are hectic, to put it mildly. With all the feeding and changing and environment-altering activities that must be addressed first thing in the morning, it’s too easy to slip into chaos mode from the onset. I try to own as much of the parenting duties in the morning before heading out the door as I can so my wife can get a shower, get ready and get dressed. Just
covering those simple luxuries seem to make all the difference for her.

When I do it the right way (which is half the time at best), it means I’m up by 6 a.m. so I can shower and get ready BEFORE my son wakes up around 6:30. I’ll have his breakfast made and feed him, while my wife jumps in the shower and does her thing. After breakfast, I’ll handle whatever needs to be handled, including diaper-changing, mouth-washing, and, if I’m lucky, a little Sports Center-watching with my boy in my lap. It’s actually a really nice time to connect. By 8 a.m., I’ll throw on my work clothes (don’t need those getting stained) and head out the door at 8:15. And my wife at least feels like a “real” person before she spends her day in the Romper Room with junior.

2. Get Your Mind Right on the Way Home from Work.

OK, my job can be tough and hectic and consuming. And yes, there’s nothing more I want when I get home than to veg for 30 minutes and unwind. I finally realized that ain’t gonna happen, so I shouldn’t try. I’ve also realized that, regardless of how tough my day was, my wife’s job is so much more exhausting. I simply have to suck it up.

This starts by getting my mind right on my way home from work. I’m fortunate in that I have just a 15-minute ride to my office. Once I leave around 5:15 or so, I turn on the local sports talk radio, get as much unwinding in as I can and then force myself to turn work off. I think it’s important to “sell out” to be Dad once you get home. It’s a real win-win-win: a relief for my wife, good times for my son and a chance for me to further connect with my son.

It’s still hectic, but at least we’re all hectic together. But it’s a choice and mindset you have to force upon yourself before you walk in the door. Otherwise, you’ll try to fit in other things that will only add to the madness.

3. Listen. No, really, LISTEN.

So here’s a new’s flash: being a stay-at-home mom is really, really tough. And being a man, I’m sure I still don’t get it. But I have realized that a mother’s brain acts in ways that no man’s is even capable of. The worries and considerations that live in a mom’s head are quite a cacophony. And being a man, when my wife starts talking about it all, I want to save the day and solve it. The problem with that is a) I don’t even understand a fraction of what’s she’s really going through, and b) she doesn’t want me to solve it anyway.

We all need to vent and release, but it has to be multiplied many times over for a woman who’s only interacted with a toddler and an animated cucumber all day long. So just listen and be there. And try with every fiber of your simple brain to relate and forgo solving.

4. Force Her to Leave the House.

I know my wife needs to get out of the house from time to time. She knows it, too. But making it happen is tough. If anyone was ever to offer me the chance to just get out and go do my own thing for a couple hours, I wouldn’t think twice about it. But moms have so much more to consider, and it’s really tough for them to truly let it all go and enjoy some downtime. They can always find a legitimate reason as to why now isn’t a good time for them to leave the kiddos with you.

So, you have to force them out every once in a while, just for their own good. Assure your wife that you can handle the feeding, the cleaning, the bathing, the washing and the putting down for a night, and kick her out the door. She needs it.

5. Be Grateful for the Blessings

We’re fortunate: my wife gets to stay home while still having a consulting business that really only requires her attention about 4 months out of the year. She sets her own schedule and goes into the office a few times every couple weeks most of the year. And that’s a blessing. Having her at home to be the primary person in my son’s life is also a blessing. Having family nearby to help when schedules get crazy is another blessing.

But it’s easy to find ways to focus on the dark side of these blessings. Working at home while your son is trying to eat the cat litter is, well, a challenge. So you have to remind yourself of the blessings, and be grateful for them, dark sides and all. And as a husband, it may be easier for you to see these blessings. Thank your wife for all she does, and for the true investment she is making so your family can be amazing. We all want to be appreciated.

Easier Said than Done

All this stuff I’ve mentioned is easy to write about. Trust me: none of it came naturally to me. Furthermore, I am not a consistent practitioner of any of it. I try to remind myself that the best thing I can do is take care of my wife while she takes care of my son. It doesn’t mean I’m not part of raising my boy; in fact, I see taking care of my wife as a way to take care of my son.

I bet you’ve got some tips on how you (guys) help your wife, or ladies, how your husband helps out. Please share them – we all need every bit of advice we can get!


Brett Duncan lives in the Dallas area with his wife and son. You can find him spreading common sense for marketing leaders at his blog, MarketingInProgress.com. Follow him on Twitter – @bdunc1

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