I’m writing this on behalf of all the moms I know who have partners that need reminding of how to be a good second half of the parenting unit now and then. This really applies to primary caretakers and their partners - whether that be two moms, two dads, boyfriend and girlfriend, etc. This is based on many conversations with parents in all walks of life at all stages of motherhood.
When you walk in the door, don’t criticize the stray noodle left on the high chair tray.
Instead, take in the scene and figure out how you can jump in and help. Chances are, the noodle is still there because someone had noodles in their hair and had to be scooped out of the high chair immediately after finishing their prepared-by-mom-from-scratch organic dinner and rushed to the tub to be cleansed from head to toe. Chances are, we were going to get to the noodle after baby was dried, diapered, clothed, read to, fed and then put to bed. Until then, the noodle just isn’t that important. You could also just quietly wipe down the high chair tray yourself :)
If you’re going to be on your damn phone, take photos once in a while.
I’m borrowing this sentiment from a well-circulated article but in case you didn’t get the point the first time, here goes a little reiteration: we moms spend our lives photographing our children and documenting our family but we are always behind the camera (with the exception of selfies – and who wants a photo album littered with selfies?). Please, please, please capture us reading to the child in our lap or toweling off a freshly-bathed baby. When you know we are feeling good and put-together (I’ll spell out some examples: after a fresh haircut, before a family outing, after a shower) encourage us to pose for a photo with the kids.
When we ask you when you’re coming home, it’s not because we’re “nagging”, it’s because we need a light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t make us feel crazy for asking. Just give an honest estimate - and try your best to make good on it. The years are short but the days are long. Very, very, very long. Sometimes it helps to know that in an hour, we'll have a partner to help shoulder the work - or at the very least keep us company while we wipe away poop.
Tell us we look nice.
Motherhood can take a toll on our self image. The stretch marks, the food in our hair, the new scars, the few pounds of baby weight that just won't come off - these things are sometimes all we see when we look in the mirror. A self esteem boost from a loving partner goes a long way.
Take the initiative to plan kid activities
Making sure the kids are always learning and engaged and being exposed to new things can be exhausting. Take over the planning for a weekend and research a handful of fun things for the family to do. A local pick-your-own farm? A children's museum? A science center? A kid-friendly hike? These are a good place to start. Take the pressure off us once in a while - sometimes the idea well in our head runs dry.
Plan dates, put them on the calendar & hire a babysitter.
We long for dinners out and 1:1 partner time but taking care of ourselves is often the last thing on our minds. Pick a restaurant, make a reservation, put it on our shared calendar and hire a babysitter. Have the babysitter come an hour early so we have time to shower and put ourselves together. You can't imagine how much these gestures mean to us.
Most important of all, be grateful and express your thanks. Mothering is hard work. Knowing our partners value the love and effort we put into being the best moms we can be means everything. Leave little notes. Pick a flower. Bring home ice cream. Give surprise hugs. Say thank you often.