The Illusion of Help

My friend’s husband travels for work. Every Monday morning, he gets on a plane leaving her and their two adorable daughters until Thursday night. She’s a rockstar and I tell her how I can’t even imagine not having my husband around for four days every week. But could I?

My husband is great, he’s hands on with the kids. He deep cleans the kitchen. He cooks the kids’ breakfast every morning, and most mornings he delivers my coffee to me in bed because I need a little extra time in bed to mentally prepare myself for the day, and he’s totally cool with that. I’m not bragging, I also sometimes compare him to our dog because he is always trying to run off and poop which turns into a twenty minute escape to look at his phone - what I like to call the Pleasure Dump. And like almost all of my friends’ husbands while he is super helpful, he also is not helpful. Infuriatingly, not helpful. Thankfully, he’s mostly wonderful and quite easy on the eyes and that makes up for all the Pleasure Dumps. Sort of. 

So could I manage for four days every week without his help? Maybe not on the weekdays when his helpful tasks are clear and built in to his schedule. (Mostly, cause some mornings he doesn’t “feel” like making breakfast or runs out of time from all the Pleasure Dumping and I see how how hard the morning routine would be solo.) But on the weekends, when I think I have help but it’s really just the illusion of help, maybe I could. We’ve all hopefully read about the mental load (if you haven’t you should google it) that woman carry, but I think there’s way more to it than just knowing what size clothes our kids wear and who needs what. 

When josh is home on a Saturday morning, I’ll think I can take twenty minutes to do something like folding the laundry. I’ll get halfway through and pop my head out to say hi only to see him glued to his phone while Judah is dumping out every bin of toys in the play room and Maple is precariously perched on the arm of a couch putting tiny LEGO pieces in her mouth from the bin of LEGO that Judah is only supposed to play with in his high chair away from Maple. I’ll ask josh why chaos is happening and he’ll say something about how I just went off and left him with both kids and act like folding laundry is a trip to the Day Spa. Then I’ll end up taking the LEGO away from a screeching Maple who wants that LEGO! And I’ll be the one who sorts the toys and puts them back into the bins they belong in, while repeatedly asking Judah to help giving myself a headache from the sound of my own voice and only getting him to put maybe three toys back. And I’ll still have the rest of the laundry to fold. 

If I had been alone with the kids, trying to fold laundry, I would have set them each up doing something: Judah in the high chair with the LEGO and Maple in her chair with crayons. So maybe it is easier to just know that you have to do it all. Because the illusion of help ends up creating more work for yourself in the end. 

I get that I need to be more directive. Write lists, whatever. But that, too, creates more work for me. I need to know what needs to be done, ask for help, remind, remind again and then possibly still do the task. And become a nagging wife in the process. 

The older generation tells us how lucky we are that our husbands are so attentive to the kids and do so much house work. And while I’m so grateful, I also can’t help but want an equal sitch. You know, one where my husband doesn’t even think of taking a Pleasure Dump until everyone’s settled and the laundry is folded.

Anyone have any tips for managing the household and not being a nag? It’s a fine balance, and I have yet to find it over here! 


  1. Omg you are reading g my heart and soul with this posts....if you sub out the names for Emma and Hannelore I could have written it word for word, except he doesnt disappear into the bathroom it's usually the shower......3 or 4 showers a day
    ....for at least 20 min. Like what?!?!?!?!


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