“I think the baby needs changing, Lil,” I heard someone shout from the other room.

The baby needs changing? I wrinkled my nose in confusion.

I poked my head into the living room where Dan, my able-bodied, fully functional husband was playing with our daughter, Penny, and said, “I’m sorry, what’d you say?”

“I think the baby needs changing.” Completely oblivious to the ridiculous nature of this statement and its implications, Dan peeked into her diaper. “Yup, needs changing.”

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“And? You know where the diaper stuff is.”

He gave me a cute, mischievous little smile as I raised my eyebrows at him, laughed and rolled my eyes before turning to leave the room.

My husband helps out around the house and with our daughter a million percent more than my dad did, just like my dad did a lot more to help out than his dad did. Still, it’s easy to fall into those stereotypical gender roles, especially as we are a stay-at-home mom and working dad couple.

Dan’s work day doesn’t continue after he gets home—why should mine? Bath time, diaper changes, and playing in Penny’s pretend kitchen aren’t either of our “jobs”—they’re all the responsibilities that come along with being a parent. We can divide and conquer or enjoy doing bath time/dinner prep/cleaning/bedtime/etc. together. We’re a team, not a one-man(woman) show.

When it comes to the daughter we both brought into this world, the day isn’t over until she’s tucked in bed and asleep. While this is great in theory, it can be tough to put into practice after we’ve both had a long day. I have to actively remind myself not to fall into the trap of doing everything myself to make things “easier.” I know my limits; trying to be “Supermom,” in my book, is a recipe for disaster.

Speaking up feels like more work sometimes than completing the task myself. It would have been really easy to just pick Penny up off the floor and go and change her diaper. And then huff around the house closing cabinet doors a little louder than necessary, sighing big sighs, frustrated that my husband doesn’t instantly go and change his daughter’s diaper when he suspects it needs changing. After a few minutes he would ask what was wrong, and I would say nothing, not wanting to make it into a “thing.” My inner monologue would run wild, thinking of other things he does that annoy me. A simple diaper change would blow up into a full-blown fight. 

Speaking up about it in a way that makes us both laugh, however, is a great diffuser. Hopefully, next time he thinks to “let me know” the baby needs changing, he will just do it himself.

Growing up, my mom did everything except take home a paycheck. Laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, raising three kids, cooking, cleaning, gardening…the list goes on. Asking my dad to do something took time and energy she didn’t have. Not to mention he wouldn’t have done it correctly—my dad loves to advise us to, “never do a bad job good.” While this grammatically incorrect advice is a funny joke about getting out of things, I think it left my mom with a lot of resentment. One person can only do so much.

I adore my parents. Much of the way I parent and live my life is modeled around the way I was raised. However, the habit of mom does everything around the house and with the kids and dad “works” is not one I’m embracing.

Lilly Holland

I'm a writer and stay-at-home mom to Penny, 15 months. Prior to spending my days with my daughter I was an elementary school teacher. After teaching, writing and being a mother became my full-time job and I haven't looked back since. Follow me on my website or Twitter