The question I get asked a lot is how does your wife do it all?
How does she look after the kids, run the household and the business?
It's always tough to answer these questions on the fly, so I thought I’d write something down for the new dads out there who are finding their way and who, like me, prefer to have a more 50/50 approach to parenting, running the household, business etc.
My wife, Nikki, is seen to be able ‘to do it all,’ because she doesn’t ‘do it all.’ Together, ‘WE do it all.’ WE have been able, and continue to do all of the above because in our marriage, there is no ‘his’ or ‘her’ job. We don't have traditional ‘gender specific roles,’ we just do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, by the person who is better at it, enjoys it more, or simply has the free-time to do it. We’re a team, always supporting one another and picking up the slack where needed.
It’s interesting that in this day and age, there’s still sometimes a perception that the husband is the bread-winner and the wife is the primary care-giver. Not in our household. I appreciate we have a unique situation where Nikki and I run a business together so this allows us a bit more freedom to do things as we like…but at the end of the day, it’s not 1952 anymore and we want to raise our kids TOGETHER, so we do all we can to ensure that happens.
So, if you’re a bloke out there wanting to have a bigger hand in raising the kids, sorting the house as well as bringing in the cash…have a read of what we do, hopefully you can take something away from this and apply it to your life.
Firstly, I love Nikki unconditionally, so everything I do is because of this…that’s the foundation right there. But let's break down how our day runs so I can show you examples of how we do things. I'll start at the end of our working day and finish at the end of our working day. I hope that makes sense?
Nikki and I both finish work together at 4pm, we then make our way home to our four beautiful, hyper/tired and hungry children. Once I walk through the door, I'm on! The first 15-30m is kid time for me. I hug every one of my loveable grommets, then take them outside to play on the trampoline, or feed the farm animals. They love this, and I really sense their joy of Dad taking the time to play and engage in their crazy chitchat. This gives Nikki the chance to finish off any work that needs to be done before the end of the business day - late meetings or phone calls etc.
Once the kids are back inside they jump all over Mom for a while, and I get stuck into dinner prep and lunchboxes for the next day. My wife and I don't ever communicate whose job is whose, we just know. Sounds weird, but it's an unspoken thing that can be put down to five years of parenting together, and just knowing what needs to be done, and when. Also, we do what we enjoy to make the daily routine more fun. I think it’s a good idea for you and your partner to figure out what you both enjoy doing too, to make things that bit easier. For example, I love food prep and making healthy lunches and dinners for my children, so it’s fun for me and doesn’t feel like a chore, whereas Nikki doesn’t enjoy that side of things as much. We work as a team and play up to each other’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences. That’s key.
I serve dinner early around 5.30-6pm. We all sit together, and my wife and I each help out feeding the kids because sometimes they decide it's too hard to lift their fork or spoon to their mouths…!
Once dinner is done and dusted, Mom gets the dishes done (I’m not a huge fan of dishes, whereas Nikki doesn’t mind doing them, again…do what you enjoy to make things easier) and generally I go watch a movie or show with the kids. The little loveable monsters have wound down by then…usually.
Once the kitchen is clean, Nikki usually heads into our home office to tidy up a few loose ends. Even though we physically leave the work office at 4pm, it doesn’t mean our business day stops then.
When the kids start becoming disinterested in the screen and more interested in baiting and attacking each other, I'm back on! I get our youngest (Jackson) off to bed, then his brother Kace, and last but not least the two girls – Caden and Ryan who share a room. Sounds easy right? Shiiiit NO! This can be the most full on part of the night! I won't go into detail but it's something I really embrace. Generally around 8pm they’re all finally toes up for the night! In the heat of battle it can be quite full on, but I find it very rewarding. Nothing better than tucking your kids into bed right?!
Nikki works at speed to get the work done and if I need it, she’ll pop out and give me a hand.
We both get into the scratcher about 8.30pm and have a chat about the day, kids, work and life. Always finishing on positives that will allow us to hit the pillow with ease and switch off as quick as we can. The night ahead can be very full on at times but it's another chance for me to do my bit. My wife carried and gave birth to our four children, so if I can do all I can now they’re out…it's a no brainer for me!
At about 1-2am our youngest will occasionally wake, I'll get up to grab him and take him to Nikki to breastfeed. One of us will change him and then get him back to bed, as to who does that depends on how the rest of the kids are going that night.
My wife is the world’s deepest sleeper and I wake up to the smallest sound, so it's a lot easier for me to go sort out the kids. On the odd occasion, one of them will wet the bed. They generally come to my side of the bed and give me the "I pissed the bed look.” In my sleep trance, I change the sheets, tuck them in and jump back to bed.
The funny thing is, I’m always up first, even if I’ve been up and down all night. This is not a ‘his job’ or ‘her job’ thing, I just like to get up at 5-5:30am to get breakfast organized and cram in a quick workout. I know my body works better like this, and it's a good chance for me to switch on before the kids rise and welcome them with a big smile and a hug! I hate getting up at the same time all shitty, and start our day off badly.
By 6am the kids are all up, hungry and for the most part fully charged! I've sorted breakfast etc., and we all tuck in as a family. Nikki and I chat about work amongst the chaos, moving about feeding the kids and tiding up as we go.
We then flick on some music and Nikki will dance and sing with the kids whilst I get their school bags ready so we can grab and go when needed. I'll then jump into the dance party for a bit, and then send the kids off to get dressed. I've tried the, ‘organize their clothes the night before’ thing but that's a complete waste of time! They generally know what they want and I suppose it's a good chance for them to take ownership.
At 8.15am we're out the door for school and kindy drop offs etc. This can be a hard time for the kids, but we both fully understand how to work through it, this comes with experience I guess.
Nikki and I then both jump in the car and off to work we go. We will chat all the way there and we really treasure those few ‘quiet’ moments when it’s just the two of us. Some mornings are better than others, but we are super positive people and that helps a lot.
So, there you have it! That is how we operate. It's not rocket science, but it all comes down to doing what you enjoy, and what makes the most sense for your day-to-day lives. Picking up the slack when your partner can’t - for whatever reason - and just constantly supporting each other throughout the day. Good communication is vital.
I'm very aware that not everyone’s family situation is like ours, but if I have anything to pass on it would be...take a moment to look at your wife and kids and truly appreciate what she has been through to make such beautiful children for the both of you. Take the time to think how you could possibly help her in any way to make things easier. She’s doing the same for you too, but make sure you return the favor. Hug her, kiss her, love her and do what's right…for you, her, and your kids.
Number one rule in my eyes - there is no his or her job! We’re a team.
Written by Adam Clarke.