15 Chores Every Dad Should Have to Do
It's not 1955. Time to do your part.
Parenting is no easy feat. It’s a 24/7 job, your coworker(s) regularly vomit with virtually no provocation, and, instead of collecting a paycheck, your bank account dwindles by the minute. What's worse, while taking care of kids can be tough for any caregiver, moms tend to be in the thick of it more often than dads: According to data from the Pew Research Center, while male parents have tripled the time they put into childcare over the past 50 years, they still do about half the work their female partners do.
However, there are serious benefits to dads stepping up and doing their fair share at home. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that, when girls saw their fathers performing domestic duties, they were less likely to aspire to gender-stereotyped careers. And boys who see their dads contributing to the domestic workload are more likely to follow suit as adults, too.
That said, though modern dads should already be contributing as much at home as their significant other, sea change doesn’t happen overnight. So, with that in mind, we’ve rounded up the 15 chores every dad should be doing—your partner can thank us later.
Sure, it’s not always easy to figure out a French braid or high ponytail, especially if you’ve never had long hair yourself, but doing your kids’ hair is not only a great way to bond with them, it’s also pretty adorable. And if you need extra incentive to break out the bobby pins, just post a video of yourself perfecting that top knot to your social media and watch those likes flood in.
Unless she’s a teacher, odds are your significant other doesn’t remember how to do polynomial long division or diagram a sentence any better than you do. However, if you’re eager to connect with your kids and help them better understand what they’re learning in school, it’s time to hit the books alongside them. See? Your teachers weren’t lying when they said these skills would come in handy some day.
Ask most parents what the hardest part of having young kids is and they’ll tell you: it’s the lack of sleep. Unfortunately, for many parents—particularly breastfeeding moms—the onus is on them alone to get up and feed the baby in the middle of the night. However, dads should be doing their part here, too, heating up pumped milk, mixing formula, and trying to get that squirmy little one to take a bottle.
Newborn babies have talons so sharp they would put your average peregrine to shame, and movements so jerky and unpredictable it’s often a nerve-racking affair to try to trim them. That said, wielding those teeny-tiny nail clippers, no matter how stress-provoking it may be, should fall squarely on dad’s plate as well as mom’s.
Doing school drop-off
While, in families with working parents, it can sometimes be difficult to coordinate drop-off and pick-up from school, if a dad can get his kids ready in the morning and take them to school, there’s no reason he shouldn’t. That sign says "carpool lane," not "moms-only zone."
One of the toughest parts of being a parent is trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules—and there’s no reason this task should fall on mom’s shoulders alone. Dads who want to do their share should get to know their kids’ babysitter, pediatrician, teachers, and friends just as well as their mom does, and be willing to set up check-ups, parent-teacher conferences, and playdates, too.
Doing bedtime duty
Maybe you don’t know all the words to “Rainbow Connection.” Maybe your voice is more Tom Waits than Disney princess. Maybe reading The Poky Little Puppy every night for years on end doesn’t quite align with your idea of fun. However, getting your kids to bed is a great way to bond with them and find out about their day.
Better yet, switching off when it comes to bedtime duty provides both you and your spouse an opportunity to spend those nights when you’re not on call doing something fun (and combat burnout along the way)—seeing a non-animated movie, meeting a friend for a meal after 6:00 p.m., or just reading a book that doesn’t have pictures—the possibilities are endless.
So you bought your kids adorable wardrobes, tons of toys, and a million craft supplies, hoping they’d bring them joy. What you find instead is that they have overflowing closets that would burst like a dynamite-loaded piñata if you tried to hang up another item. And while organization may often fall on the shoulders of mothers, dads should get in on the act, too—your friends with younger kids will appreciate the hand-me-downs and your partner will appreciate not having to do it all herself.
If you’re a dad missing out on bath time, you’re missing out on a great chance to bond with your kids. A bottle of bubble bath, some soap, a Spotify playlist with no swearing in it, a few rubber ducks, and you’re good to go. And to any dad who assumes they won’t know how to adequately remove that thin layer of grime from their kids: if you know how to make yourself clean and presentable, you shouldn’t have a hard time doing the same thing for someone who’s three feet tall.
If both parents eat at home, it seems reasonable that both should be responsible for food shopping, right? In reality, that’s rarely the case. According to a study published by the Private Label Manufacturers Association, two-thirds of women identified themselves as their household’s primary shopper. And while, if browsing the aisles at Trader Joe’s sans kids feels so indulgent it’s practically self-care to your partner, by all means let her enjoy herself, but if not, it’s pretty important for dads to have a handle on which staples their family needs and where to find them.
Note the word “meals” here. A dad on top of his game should be able to do more than hand his kid a string cheese or handful of popcorn to keep them satisfied until their more culinarily-adept parent returns home. If you want to keep your kids fed (and your marriage intact), that means learning how to prepare whole meals—ones with protein, vegetables, some healthy carbs, and preferably served on a plate, with utensils, and at a table, not out of a bag in the back of the car.
Doing dishes is rarely the highlight of any parent’s day, but dads chipping in to do their fair share could make it less of a contentious issue. Research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family reveals that not only do women do more dishes than men, women who find themselves left alone to tackle those grimy plates and cups experience less relationship satisfaction and more resentment toward their partners. So, while you may not relish the idea of cleaning out that sippy cup that’s been living under your couch for the past six months, it’s all part of the job.
Dealing with illness
No one relishes the idea of cleaning up vomit or having their clothes used as a tissue, but pawning off those less-than-pleasant parenting tasks off on mom alone is, to put it mildly, a bum deal. If you’re a dad, it’s important to do your part when it comes to taking care of you kids when they’re sick—after all, there’s no “only if you’re not doing something gross” out clause for parents.
While it may seem obvious that diaper-changing duty is the responsibility of both parents, things don’t always work out that way in practice. According to one survey, just 54 percent of dads change their babies’ diapers—meaning nearly half of those polled simply left that not-so-pleasant task to their partner every single time.
But for dads eager to keep their kids and spouses happy, changing diapers is just part of the deal. Sure, it’s gross, and men do unfairly find themselves without adequate facilities in which to change their little ones in many public restrooms. That said, if you signed up to be a parent, you signed up for all of it—the good, the bad, and the horrifying. And to make your other domestic duties a breeze, discover these 20 Genius Ways to Make Chores More Fun.
If you think your laundry duty is a slog now, wait until you have kids. While you might wash one or two loads a week for yourself and your partner, that number tends to increase exponentially after kids arrive to account for diaper blowouts, spit-up, the inability of most toddlers to pass by a muddy puddle without jumping in it, and, of course, Popsicles.
And if you think that women should be the sole gatekeepers of clean clothing, think again—if dads want work shirts without traces of strained peas and craft glue on them, it’s time they got comfortable with stain-fighting spray and garment steamers. And before you shrink that heirloom dress or stain your clothes with a stray pen, make sure you know these 20 Items You Should Never Put in a Washing Machine.
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