It might be Father's Day but if you're struggling to juggle all the demands of motherhood today, you shouldn't think twice about asking for some help from your partner, apparently.
So says the author of a new book which claims it is possible for working mums to strike the perfect work / life balance.
The Daily Mail reports:
"Jayne Anderson, a television producer, Walkley award winner and mother of four, was working full time and raising three children when she decided to leave her career at Australian television network Channel Nine."
"Mrs Anderson spent eight years putting together a book on the topic, Working it Out, which is a collection of more than twenty interviews with women and men discussing things like single parenting, the pros and cons of full-time work and child care."
The book directly addresses how to 'have it all' as a working mum - but the wider issue of asking your partner for help fascinates me because I'm one of those infuriating types who just doesn't find it easy to ask for help of any kind. It's a major character flaw, but I am more likely to struggle on in quiet independence than ask for help - whilst inwardly seething because my other half isn't reading my mind and mucking in as I might like.
He'd willingly pull his weight with any domestic task or chore, I hasten to add, but he generally needs to be asked to do so. Not because he's lazy - far from it - nor unwilling to help, but because he literally doesn't see our household environment in the same way that I do.
He can step over a basket of clean laundry several times without even really noticing it, prompting me to misread his obliviousness to tasks such as putting the laundry away as disinterest in helping to lighten the load. Which, as you can imagine, sets off a pretty disastrous vicious cycle whereby I end up doing more than I can manage, feeling overburdened, and resenting the fact that if I want help I'm going to have to spell that out.
I know we're not the only household that ends up in such a cycle, either. And Anderson adds that when women do ask their partners for help, they shouldn't criticise the way men do things. Ouch. Guilty of that one, too. Yes, I want him to help put the laundry away but I'd rather he did it my way - I don't want my pants piled up in little towers dotted around the living room while he sorts it all out in his own sweet time.
But this Father's Day, instead of handing over a new tie or yet another packet of socks, my 'gift' to my other half is this: I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. Accordingly, I'll ask him to help when it's required instead of seething at having to ask, and I'll resist the urge to criticise him when he does muck in. Even when there are piles of pants all over the sofa.
It's a difficult gift to give - I deeply dislike asking for 'help' around the house because I loathe the vague insinuation that domestic drudgery is somehow 'my' role rather than a shared task, and that household chores are something he 'helps' with rather than simply gets on with. But since I know that's not the way he sees the world - I'd have run a mile rather than married him, if it was - I'm going to assume he wants to pull his weight, and point out where he can do so when required, without criticism.
We'd love to hear your views on this topic over on our Facebook page. Do you ask your other half for help or think you shouldn't have to ask? And when he does muck in, do you criticise his way of doing things, or just appreciate the effort? Alternatively, if he's the domestic god in your house then tell us all about it...