Men’s and women’s roles in the family and around the house are much less traditional than they used to be. In spite of society’s aversion for stereotypes, however, there are just some things that moms can simply do better than dads, and vice versa. (Case in point: I still struggle getting hair elastics out of my daughter’s hair, let alone putting one in.) Still, there are a few homemaking skills for husbands that every man should be aware of and master.
At our home, Lizzy is much better at breaking out of her traditional role as wife and mother than I am at defying the stereotype of husband and father. She’s pulled dead rats out of our attic, put together storage shelves, and stretched chicken wire over the fence to keep our dog in the yard. Somehow, even though my chores are limited to taking care of the garage, the yard, and the cars, I never seem to get it all done, requiring Lizzy to pick up a lot of slack. I’m guessing that this dynamic in our marriage isn’t unique to us.
Men: try shocking your wife sometime by doing the unexpected! Show your wife you love her by doing something she typically (or always) does. I’m not talking about taking out the trash or doing the dishes once in a while. After all, those things are expected. I’m talking about exploring the traditional world of what it’s like to be a wife or mother. Man up, and do something hard. No matter how it turns out, you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to put a smile on your wife’s face.
Master, or even attempt, these 8 household chores and become the ideal husband. (No worries. None of them require braiding your daughter’s hair.)
1. Clean a Toilet.
You can clean a toilet in under 5 minutes. If you’ve never tried before, or tried and failed, follow these fail-proof steps to make the bathroom sparkle.
First, remove any floor rugs. You don’t want any bleach in the toilet bowl cleaner to ruin the fabric. (I’ve learned this the hard way, multiple times.)
Now flush the toilet, put both the seat and lid up, and apply toilet bowl cleaner. Put the tip of the bottle under the lip of the bowl rim and let it run down the sides of the inside of the bowl. You can also put a little bit on the rim itself. But don’t over do it here. Make sure to let the cleaner sit for 60 seconds before scrubbing the toilet. (Pro Tip: While the cleaner sits for 60 seconds, go the extra mile and clean the bathroom sink or mirror to make use of your time.)
After a minute, use a toilet brush to scrub the toilet bowl. Start, again, under the lip of the rim. Then scrub the sides all the way down into the drain itself. If you put any cleaner on the top of the rim, use the brush to clean this area as well.
Flush the toilet and use a paper towel to get rid of excess toilet bowl cleaner both in and out of the bowl. Then us a few Clorox wipes to clean the outer-surfaces of the toilet (the top of the rim, the seat, and the lid. (Pro Tip: Don’t forget to wipe down behind the seat and to be especially thorough wiping around where the seat screws into the bowl.)
Most people forget to clean the outer surface of the bowl. Don’t be that person. Take the time to get down on your knees and wipe off the bowl and the floor around the bowl. This is where stains will develop and odors will accumulate if left unattended for too long.
Now replace the rugs and you’re done! (Pro Tip: Leave the toilet bowl brush to drip-dry into the toilet rather than putting it back right away by closing the lid over the handle. This will keep the brush storage container from accumulating water and getting gross.)
2. Dust a Shelf.
There is nothing more that Lizzy hates than dusting. In fact, she refuses to do it and has made it my permanent assignment. I’m not sure where her loathing comes from, and I feel comfortable saying, this is an easy household chore!
The next time you want to surprise your wife, pick up a package of microfiber cloths and you’ll be set. (Pro Tip: Don’t fall prey to the myriad of dusting supplies for sale. None of them work as well or are as easy to use as microfiber cloths.)
Remove everything from whatever surface you’re dusting. It’s tempting to try to dust around objects on a shelf or a dresser. It’s quicker, though, to just get rid of it all and then put it all back again. Doing it piecemeal takes a lot longer.
Using a wet microfiber cloth, wipe down the surface, then give it a once-over with a dry microfiber cloth. Make sure to dust off the items you’re putting back onto the shelf. (Pro Tip: For objects that are too small or fragile to dust, tar using a bottle of compressed air, which you can purchase at any office supply store.)
3. Make Dinner.
Your wife won’t be picky when you’re the one cooking. And nothing will thrill her more than if you step into the kitchen every once in awhile.
If cooking is not your thing, keep it simple! Scrambled eggs with toast makes for an awesome, filling dinner for the kids. If you can grill, put a chicken breast on and make mashed potatoes as a side. Or, try cutting up the chicken and throwing it into a salad.
Breakfast for dinner is also always easy and always a crowd pleaser. (Pro Tip: These German pancakes require only 6 ingredients. Throw all 6 into a blender and then bake the blended mixture in the oven. There’s not an easier dish to make, and your family will wonder why you aren’t the one doing all the cooking.)
4. Put the Kids to Bed.
This one may require some prep work. If you haven’t been involved with putting the kids to bed, you’re going to have to ask your wife to update you on their routine. Kids are creatures of habit, and if you don’t have the bed routine down, you’ll be hard pressed to get your kids to settle down for the night. For example, our 2 year old has to brush his teeth, read a scripture story, pray, read a book, and use the bathroom— all in that order— before he’ll even consider going to bed.
There is no better time to bond with your children than bed time. Besides giving your wife a break, participating in a bedtime routine will be invaluable in forging a strong relationship with your children throughout their formative years. Tell stories, read books, sing songs, wrestle, review the day, talk about tomorrow’s schedule, or build a quick blanket fort and move the mattress from the bed to the fort. (Pro Tip: Whatever you decide to do, make it simple and consistent.)
If your kids struggle with adding you into the mix at bed time, realize it’s because it’s new to them. Just be there with mom for a few days until they’re used to the new routine. Sooner than you know, you’ll be able to put the kids down without any help from your wife.
You won’t regret making time to tuck your kids in. Make bedtime a tradition. You won’t regret it.
5. Make the Bed.
Making the bed takes 30 seconds. (Pro Tip: Do this every day before you walk out the door. It’s an easy way to serve your wife, and she’ll love you more for it. You’ll go further in her eyes by making the bed every day than by doing the dishes when she asks you to. And it’s a lot easier!)
6. Try Your Hand at Decorating.
Decorating is something most guys shy away from. And I get it. I used to think decorating a home was something only my wife could do. But when Lizzy gave me a framed painting for a birthday present and made me find a place to put it, I realized a little decorating can go a long way in pleasing your wife. Here are some simple ideas you’ll want to try.
Bring the Outside In.
A great way to brighten up a room is to bring the outside in. A few weeks ago, the kids and I took a nature walk and collected pinecones.
Rather than storing them in the backyard, we filled an empty container and stuck it in the family room.
You can do this same thing with shells, sand, rocks, or plants, and make any corner of your house come alive.
Buy a few used books and display them on a shelf. They’re easy to find online or at your local library and make great space fillers.
Find Items With Meaning.
We all have things lying around the house we don’t know what to do with but can’t throw away. Where do you store the ugly quilt from great grandma that’s too itchy to use? What about the souvenir from your last family vacation that’s gathering dust in the closet? Or there are the old toys or pictures from childhood you just can’t seem to part with.
Strategically placing of some of these items can make for easy decorating. Better yet, they all say something about you. Take advantage of these items in your home to talk with your kids about their relatives, your childhood, or places around the world.
This shelf in our family room consists of pinecones the kids and I found together, an old library book, sand from the beach, a door knob we picked up during a vacation, and the painting from Lizzy.
7. Clean Out the Fridge.
This is one no one ever wants to do. It can also be time consuming. But take the time to do even a light cleaning in the fridge every once in awhile. It will make your wife’s day!
8. Do the Wash.
Laundry doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, I used to wonder why this chore was so overwhelming to Lizzy. I realize now, though, that it’s not the task that’s overwhelming, but the sheer volume of clothes that have to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.
Try doing one load of laundry for your wife from start to finish. If you’re new at doing your own wash, start off with a load of darkly-colored clothes. They usually require less work to wash than lighter colored clothes, since lighter-colors can require some stain removal or special care.
When the clothes have been washed and dried, don’t forget to iron, fold, and put them away. (Pro Tip: I don’t know where all my kids’ clothes go. But even just sorting the clothes into piles for each child is a huge help to Lizzy and saves her a lot of time.)
Mastering These Homemaking Skills for Husbands Is Sure to Put a Smile on Your Wife’s Face.
You’ll feel out of place doing a lot of these things. Don’t let that stop you, though! No one’s asking for perfection. And who knows? If you do some of these enough times, they might become habits. Regardless, each time you engage in one of these activities, you’ll strengthen your marriage, model good behavior for your kids, and deepen your relationship with your wife. Make your home life happy by doing something out of the ordinary–helping out extra around the house!
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