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There’s no such thing as ‘women’s work’ or ‘men’s work’. Running a home and raising kids is teamwork, and the only way to a gender neutral society in the future.
I had a haircut appointment for my nine year old daughter scheduled last week. Unfortunately, I had to make myself available for another meeting at the same time.
While it was not most ideal, I suggested that my husband, her dad, take her to the beauty parlor. I shared with him a few photographs of what the hair cut should look like, and we were all set!
My husband readily agreed – to be honest he was happy to do it; he suggested they’d go out for a daddy-daughter dinner date after the haircut.
But when I shared this with a few friends and family, it became a huge deal! My husband became the ‘progressive father’, who does not hesitate to do his ‘wife’s tasks’!
I got lots of comments from friends such as –
“You are so lucky your husband does all that, plus he shares all house work with you. That is so rare.” Suddenly my husband becomes the hero – well, he is always my hero of course!
But how come all those occasions when I accompany my daughter to all her events and clubs and parties get overlooked? How come all that effort is taken for granted, while, the man’s effort at house work makes him such a hero?
Now even more important, how come I think that my husband’s contribution here is just his normal responsibility, while others think this is a big deal? Maybe I am l missing something, no? Why do I think differently from others here?
So I did some more thinking, and here is where I netted –
My mother has always been an extremely caring, hardworking, attentive, ‘working mother’, who, like me, had a full time job. I have always been super-proud of her achievements as a child – a gold medalist mathematician, professor of mathematics who never once ignored her family and her children.
She often accompanied me to my karate club, at my debating unions, and was by my side every evening as I did my homework too. But hey, it was my dad who dropped me to school every single day, he picked me up every evening. And often he accompanied me at all my activities and occasionally at my homework too! I remember him bathing me, getting me dressed and combing my hair sometimes.
What’s more, it is my dad who helped and supported me when I experienced my first menstrual period. My mum was at a lecture that afternoon, and it was just me and my dad at home; he did not hesitate to help me out then. And I did not feel that this was abnormal in any way!
My dad helped my mum in the kitchen every day – cleaning up utensils and managing all laundry were his designated tasks. Cooking still was mum’s duty, however, often dad treated us to his very special egg-fried rice and eggplant curry. Even today, when I visit my parents, I fondly see him doing their joint laundry slowly, but surely!
I guess I have a ‘progressive’ father, so my husband’s efforts to share all house work seems just normal to me. Now, it’s true that there are some things that I am better at than my husband is, and vice-versa. But hey – that’s why we are a team, right? We both have our strengths, and we leverage them to the benefit of our home economy and happiness, as a team. ‘Divide and conquer’- this is what we do.
My mom and dad – they have been a team too! And I always saw them working as a team, as I grew up. And that made me assimilate this idea of living and working together – at home, outside, with kids or otherwise, as just the normal way of life. I never thought of certain work as woman’s tasks only, or certain others as a man’s job only – because I grew up with “progressive” parents.
Some food for thought to you readers – if we raise our children as ‘progressive’ parents today, then that will become the normal for them as they grow up. If we train them to think that some tasks are ‘mummy’s tasks’ and others are ‘daddy’s tasks’, they would grow up thinking it is not normal for a dad to do mum’s work and vice versa.
So, do not hesitate to buy a kitchen set for your little sons, and a lego truck for your girls – it is absolutely okay to do so. Invite your husbands and partners to cook with you if they don’t already. They may not be as good as you are to begin with, but that’s okay. You will be setting an example for your kids that cooking and cleaning are not mum’s tasks.
Trust your men a bit more – they are as good as you are at raising children. They just need a bit of practice, so give them just that. Let your man braid your daughter’s hair, let him change your baby’s diapers, let him do some bed time reading with this kids – I can guarantee you, it will be a fun exercise for all of you. Let us empower our men today, at managing house work and ‘women’s tasks’.
And yes, for those of you who are keen to know – my daughter’s haircut was such a super hit! Her dad is definitely better at this stuff than I am. I think I will let him do this more often!
Image source: shutterstock
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Smruti Shanbhag was born and brought up in India.
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