I can be a control freak with my kids, and in the past have left countless notes and directions for my very capable hubby on how to do it “right.” Then I would still be stressed the whole time I was away, and for him, it felt like he wasn’t even in charge. I would even tell him which way to cut their sandwiches. I mean, c’mon! Allowing myself to just let him do it his way was a big deal for our relationship, and it came with so many benefits.
The Kids Have Fun
I remember the first time my husband took my oldest two to the movies without me. The kids were so excited because Dad had let them order Coke! Also, they beg for Dad to make their PBJ’s because he makes them better than I do! Probably one of their favorites is that Dad is a little more relaxed with bedtime. “Mommy it’s fun when you go out because Daddy always lets us stay up later.” How fun!
Recently, another friend of mine was celebrating her birthday with some out of town friends. The moms went to bed early and left the dads in charge, and the kids stayed up past midnight! And we moms could either flip out about it or just roll with it and let the kids make memories with their dads.
Dad is Happier
Of course he is! Who wants to be micromanaged?! He doesn’t have to worry about meeting anyone’s standards. He just gets to parent and have fun with his kids! Instead of following a to-do list, he is able to relax and enjoy bath and bedtime. He is also more eager to take all four kids on a bike ride to the park or start a garden project with them. He also can introduce them to things he enjoys, like riding in the Jeep with the top down or surfing or fishing.
Mom is More Relaxed
Honestly, I often have to run through the benefits of unstructured Daddy time to make myself relax. I also really enjoy just walking out the door with no lists to make or activities to prep. I still sometimes, just to be nice, make a dinner or lay out PJ’s just to reduce some of the work and increase the time for fun.
The Kids Learn to Be Adaptable
Being the mother of twins, a routine was key in surviving the first year. Even though we were pretty scheduled, the kids could easily handle days that didn’t follow the norm. Exposure to a little chaos every now and then is a good lesson.
When my youngest was pretty steadily eating table food, my husband totally forgot to give him his nighttime bottle. I was very surprised that I could so easily make a joke of it, but it was a pretty good way to learn that he would still sleep all night without that bottle!
The kids also learn that when they fall and get a boo-boo, Dad is going to handle it differently than Mom. Or when they can’t seem to fall asleep at night, his answer might be different than mine.
Dad Is Free to Be More Involved
My hubby is the leader for my son’s cub scout den. He leads all of their meetings, organizes the schedule, and communicates with the den and pack. He also takes the kids on camping trips and little field trips to places like the local fire station and local museums. Some of the meetings can be fun to watch with all the dads trying to show kids how to use glue dots or decorate a scrap book page. I love that the kids get to be guided through an activity that is not natural to the average dad. I also love that they go camping without me! I do get some time away from the kids, but they also get some time away from me around a campfire with the laid back parent.
One of my friend’s dad’s always served frozen pizzas for breakfast during sleepovers, and now that father of three boys does the same. Another friend has fun dinner dates with his daughter when his wife is traveling on business. Lots of dads have a special dinner they make, like pancakes for dinner, or a special game they play with their kids, like Battleship. It’s fun to watch these traditions being born or continuing on!
Sometimes His Way Is Better
And I watch and enjoy and sometimes learn a thing or two about parenting from my husband. 🙂