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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 to be a stay-at-home-mom, but your husband doesn’t realize that while he holds a 9-to-5 job five days of the week, yours is 24/7.
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 baby duties, 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:
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 doesn’t 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 might come home to a messy house, 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 it is to care for the baby—he might start to appreciate what you go through. If anything, it’s better than doing nothing and fostering resentment.
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Take a step back and put yourself in your husband’s shoes. Is he a new father struggling to keep up with the pressure of being a dad while working a stressful, full-time job? He might have a difficult time finding the support he needs in his new role as well.
Perhaps he stumbles with identifying the baby’s cues and quirks when he’s away from home for over 40 hours a week. Switching from high-pressure work to soothing a baby isn’t always easy. And he may not have many people to talk to about his situation, or resources to turn to.
All that to say, sometimes the best way to get his help is through empathetic communication. Let him know you understand that he’s under a lot of pressure. Acknowledge that he doesn’t have as many opportunities to get to know the baby as much as he would like.
And encourage him when he does his best, even if it’s not the way you would do it. He’s more likely to get involved when he feels heard, and you’ll likely receive the same support in return.
With dinner prepared and his laundry washed and ironed, who could blame your husband for not 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 at 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.
By seeing the boundaries you’ve set, he’ll likely see that he too has to pitch in and do his fair share.
A good rule of thumb? Both parents should be doing chores or relaxing for the night. One shouldn’t kick up their feet on the recliner if the other is still wiping the kitchen counters.
Now, let’s say you 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 and 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 wakings—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.
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 her to stop crying?
Part of the reason he might not be willing to help is that 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 why he mixed the oatmeal cereal with water instead of breastmilk as you said. He’ll make mistakes, no doubt. So long as he’s trying his best, let most of it go.
In some cases, you might want to consider going to counseling to get to the root of the issue.
Your husband might be depressed about the massive changes that parenthood has brought. You both could have different expectations based on how you grew up.
A therapist can help you sort out underlying causes that are rupturing your relationship. She can 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 at 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 get on the same page.
Give him time alone with the baby to build his confidence and show him what you go through. Listen to his struggles with empathy so he feels heard and understood. Put “his” chores aside and prioritize your own or the baby’s.
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 both of you, at least for yourself.
It’s not 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.
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By Nina Garcia 8 Comments Tags: dads
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I wish that ANY of this worked with mine. He insists that since he has a job and pays the bills he isn’t responsible for caring for our son or the house. He says when I get a job and pay half the rent then he’ll help. I ran to the store to get formula and realized there were other things we needed. He texted me screaming about how the baby was crying and it shouldn’t take an hour to get formula. I came home and he’d put our 3 month old in the nursery and left him to cry. He said he tried rocking him and it didn’t work. I asked if he made a bottle and tried that and he said no. If I try to go to the restroom for more than 5 minutes and the baby starts crying he’s mad when I get back. Today he was letting him cry and covering his own ears to try to continue his nap. I plan on getting a job but I know when I do I’ll still be responsible for everything else despite what he says because he drives a delivery truck for work and can’t be sleepy when he’s driving. Currently I shower with the baby, feed him and myself while pumping (we supplement) and try to clean while he’s napping. I’m about to lose my mind. Not counting the fact that when I get a job we’ll lose WIC (pays for our formula and some groceries), our son will lose health insurance (medicare) and we’ll have to pay for child care because I don’t trust his mom to not do everything I’ve told her not to (like giving my 2 month old water and not buckling his carseat). I’ve told him all of this so he wants me to work from home and watch the baby at the same time.
Nina Garcia says
I’m so sorry to hear that, Jessie. It sounds like a really rough situation to be in for both you and your son. I hope you’ll find the strength and answers you need <3< p="">
Me too! Worst part is he treated me the same when I was working! I just don’t know if I can put up with it anymore. I don’t get any time to myself and honestly starting to think it wouldn’t be any different if single. Just maybe less weight of taking care of people.
seeing how he talks with his actions are totally different.
I use to be in the same vote. I’ve tried working an then clean house,cook,groceries take care of our baby and still he can’t help me out with everything because he says he has other things to do outside the home for 2 to 3 hours. I’ve tried to go 100% both of us taking turns and still he won’t, always seem to have something else. I said get out!! I feel better now. With working and going home to do everything myself with help of my other older child . I’ve learn he don’t want that responsibility as a parent and being selfish.
I’m in a similar situation and I feel so helpless. I don’t know what to do I’m so lost. I should’ve been more careful with choosing my baby’s father ;(
paula guerin says
I’ve tried all this. And I’m working, I only work evenings so I do mornings and afternoons with my son and leave at six and dad just gets to put him to bed at seven. Dad works 7-3 everyday, and when he gets home he refuses to help because he works full time. I only work 4 days a week and only 5-6 hour shifts (im a server) so I get home at midnight and get up every morning with the baby, literally so everything from showers to everything with my child. My only me time is my 1-3pm nap he goes down for. Then dad comes home and refuses to help so I prep them dinner.. I get ready for work and I leave for work. This also happens on weekends when dad doesn’t work at all… I work every weekend because I’m a server.. he also says that mom should do all the work because he does work full time and it’s silly to think other wise. But is annoying to see him come home from work and just lay on the couch when I’ve been running around all day and now I need to go to work.. it hurts.
He needs to realize that taking care of the family (including working inside and outside the home) is a 24/7 job. No one gets to take a break. If that sounds like drudgery, you haven’t yet learned how to enjoy children. Caring for them is much more fulfilling than working on some stupid corporate project that will probably fail. Guys – when you come home you take off your career hat and put on the daddy hat. Roll your sleeves up and dive into taking care of the kids. Don’t consider this “helping” your wife and don’t expect Brownie points; it’s called Parenting. This is no better way for me to rewind and relax than by playing with my little ones. And there are many areas where you are the better parent. Do it with the right attitude, and it will become joyful to you. I promise.
My bf is the same way. I always find myself in situations where I’m constantly begging for his help with our 3 month old. He always tells me that because he has a job and pays the bills that he shouldn’t have to help with our son. He even starts giving me a whole bunch of crap because I dont cook or clean as often as I should. He tells me that the house should be clean and there should food on the table because I’m home all day and apparently do nothing. He’s now trying to tell me that I need to get a job to so that I can help pay some bills. But I know that even with a job, I’m still going to be the main one taking care of our son. I already take care of my son 24/7. I don’t get days off. I do everything when it comes to him. And there have been a many bad nights where our son is screaming crying for hours because he’s colicky and I wouldn’t be able to get him to sleep til 1 in the morning. I’m struggling and always ask for his help but no matter what I say he just won’t help me. But what really pisses me off is when I ask for his help and he says he’s to tired due to his job but then within 2 hours he’s going out with his friends to the clubs and bars and doesn’t come back til super late or there’s been times when he doesn’t come back til the next morning. So apparently he’s too tired to help me with our son but not tired enough to go out. And I’m over here tired, exhausted, and needing to take a shower but have no help to even do that. He tries to justify it by telling me that he can go out for however long he wants to and whenever he wants to because he pays the bills. He just doesn’t seem interested in our son at all. Even on his days off I try to get him to come hangout with me and our son but instead he locks himself in the bedroom and stays on his phone all day. He comes out when he’s hungry or needs to use the restroom but then quickly goes right back into the room.