Dear Dads: Here's What Your Children's Mother Really Needs From You

by Annie Reneau
Originally Published: 
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Hi there, Dads.

As you may have noticed, we moms spend a lot of time talking about motherhood with other moms. We flock to online communities to share our joys and woes with one another, form mom groups for support and solidarity, and devour blog post after blog post to reassure ourselves that we’re not alone in our struggles.

Unfortunately, you dads are usually excluded from that world, despite your powerful presence in our lives. We moms talk a lot with one another about what our husbands do well and what we wish they would do more, but you’re not always privy to that info. And that sucks, frankly, for us and for you.

So I’m gonna do you a solid here, dads. If you ever wonder what your children’s mother really needs from you, here it is:

Give her time away.

One of the best things you can do for your wife is to kick her out of the house for a few hours by herself. I’m not talking about grocery shopping (unless that’s something she really enjoys doing on her own). I mean free time without any family or household responsibilities. Even if you share housework and childcare equitably (we’ll get to that in a minute), there’s a good chance your wife feels the weight of that responsibility more fully, and she feels it all the time when she’s in the house.

Assure her that your children will be 100% happy and healthy in your care and make her leave. If she seems befuddled as to how to spend this time, tell her to browse Target or see a movie or read in a bookstore or get a manicure. Whatever floats her boat, guilt-free.

Give her time alone in a clean house.

This is sort of the opposite of the first tip, but equally important. Sometimes moms of little kids want to have quiet time alone in the house to just be in our own space. If you can help get the place neat and tidy and then take the kids out for a couple of hours, you’ll be amazed at how thrilled she’ll be.

Take equal housework responsibility.

If your wife seems overwhelmed, it may be because running a household while also keeping children physically and emotionally healthy is a huge, never-ending — not to mention unpaid — job. Whether your wife works out of the house or stays home with your kids, it makes sense to take approximately equal share of household duties when you are home. Pick a couple of duties you don’t mind doing and take them off her hands.

Bonus for you: You would not believe how sexy you are to us when you are doing dishes or cooking a meal. Seriously. Don’t underestimate it.

Let her know you appreciate her.

Even if your life circumstances are such that you can’t help out as much as you (or your wife) might want, it takes almost no effort to let her know you appreciate her and everything she does for your family. Being a mom and running a household is a lot of work, and it’s work that goes unrecognized most of the time. It’s virtually impossible to tell your wife too many times that you think she’s awesome and that you respect her hard work. Say it loud and say it often.

Take pictures of her with the kids.

Make it a habit to take pictures of your wife with your kids, both individually and as a group. I guarantee she has a thousand of just the kids, and probably a lot of you and the kids too. Do this especially when she’s looking particularly dolled up (we all like photos where we look good), but also just during a normal day. When my mother-in-law passed away a few years ago, it was so meaningful to find photos of her with her kids at all ages. A photo of your kids with their mother is a gift to both them and her.

Let her know she’s beautiful.

Motherhood can do a number on a woman’s sense of self in more ways than one. I personally think that it makes women more beautiful, but that’s not the message we get from society. It’s important for us to hear that you find us attractive, and not just when we’ve managed to get dressed up or when you’re feeling frisky. My husband sometimes tells me I’m gorgeous when I’m sitting on the couch in my jammies with no makeup on, and I know that he means it. That affirmation is such a simple gesture, but it means the world to me.

Every woman is different, of course, so you’ll need to use your own judgment with these things. But most are pretty universal. And if you really want to wow your woman, don’t wait for her to ask — the more proactive you can be, the better.

None of these things is particularly huge, but each can make a significant impact. Pick a few things from the list, do them regularly, and watch your wife melt before your eyes. Trust me.


Your New Best Friend

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