Transform your lazy slob into a super house husband

NINETIES man appears to have disappeared from view according to a new survey which claims that many men are simply domestic duds. But don't despair if you are lumbered with a lazy husband for help is at hand ” in the shape of a new book that offers ways of licking them into shape around the house. Consumer Editor ANDREA THURLBECK reports.






THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT: Dad Dave Baker, with his wife Wendy and, left to right, Rebekah (8), Joshua (3), Naomi (6) and Elizabeth (10). Dave, of Eastlea Road, Seaham, is a hands-on dad who helps around the house and wit

A WOMAN'S work is never done ” it's an old cliche, but one that still apparently rings true.
For despite the fact that dual-income families are now the norm, a new survey claims that women are still carrying the majority of the responsibility for housework and child care.
The National Statistics survey shows that men are getting lazier ” spending an average of eight and a half hours asleep each night, three hours watching television and just 18 minutes taking part in sport or exercise.
In between that most men have little time or inclination to help around the house, leaving many women to run the home single-handed.
A second new study also showed that while women don't shy away from a bit of hard graft, when it comes to housework, men can't be seen for dust.
While women said they empty the bin every day, the average male left their rubbish to fester for almost five days before taking it outside.
Dish washing also came out low on the male agenda, with some men leaving their dirty dishes nearly four days in comparison to their female counterparts who wash them every day.
And their lack of hygiene isn't confined to the kitchen ” with women vacuuming the carpets once every four days, while men leave the dust to settle for at least a week.
But while the lazy husband appears to be as common a domestic species as the household cat, some men are moving with the times and helping out in the home, offering a glimmer of hope for the future.
Forty-three-year-old Dave Baker, of Eastlea, Seaham, won't think twice about getting out the hoover to give the house a quick clear up if he's able to or getting up to make the kids breakfast ” despite suffering from arthritis and narcolepsy.
Dave and wife Wendy are parents to nine-year-old Elizabeth, eight-year-old Rebekah, Naomi, six and three-year-old Joshua and from day one they have shared the child-rearing and household duties, working together as a team.
It was something the couple had discussed well before having children and both agreed that they wanted a big family, with both taking a hands-on role with the child rearing.
Dave explained: “When I was a child, my mum did the majority of child care and work around the home, but I was determined to be more involved than my dad was ” I wanted to be there for my kids for everything from making the breakfast to taking them swimming.
“I think it's fairer for Wendy too. Like a lot of women she has a demanding job and it would be unfair to expect her to do everything around the house and with the children too. Roles are changing now within marriages and we should change too.
“I know a lot of men think it's not their job to help around the house and with the kids but marriage should be all about partnership and helping each other and to be honest it seemed quite natural to me to share the workload.
“Admittedly I did find it all a bit of a shock to the system when Elizabeth was born, but from the start I helped through the night and shared everything with Wendy, apart from bathing the children for the first couple of months, which I found a bit daunting.
“I can't do as much now because of my arthritis and narcolepsy, but on my good days I do still help out when I can and every little bit helps.”
Dave's wife Wendy, 39, believes it helped talking about the equal division of roles within the household early in the relationship, before children arrived.
She said: “With being a nursery nurse, doing things with the kids is second nature to me and I think nothing of getting the paint out and paper maché and having some fun, but I wanted to make sure that being hands on with the kids was also second nature with Dave too.
“I really wanted shared responsibility of raising the children and balance within the house, partly through studying child care and also wanting to do things differently to my mum, who did everything herself.
“So when we both decided we wanted a large family, we agreed it would be a 50/50 split, with an equal share of the roles ” from changing the nappies and ironing the clothes to taking them swimming and sitting in a school corridor while they have their dancing class.
“Dave loves doing loads of things with the kids, such as painting and playing and although he wasn't so blown away at getting up through the night with them, he did his fair share.
“He's also hands-on around the house. Before Dave's arthritis and narcolepsy worsened, it wouldn& apos;t be unusual for him to wake up at 4am to take his medication, be unable to get back to sleep, so after the tablets started to work do a pile of ironing for me, which I would find neatly stacked when I work up.
“I have to say there's nothing Dave won't do, although sometimes he needs the odd reminder to put a load of washing in the machine.
“Dave can't do as much now because of his arthritis and narcolepsy, but he still helps whenever he can.”
But why are all households not run on an equal basis?
Well experts believe this is due to a combination of factors ” many men choose simply to opt out of the household and child-rearing duties, believing the stress and demands of work are a good excuse ” whether or not the wife works too.
Others pretend to be useless at everything they don't want to do, protesting that their partners are so much better than them ” despite the fact they're more than capable of loading the washing machine, cooking a meal and operating the vacuum cleaner.
Ironically some experts believe the imbalance of roles in some households is actually reinforced by women themselves, who can be guilty of what sociologists refer to as “gate keeping” ” believing they are the only one that can put things away in the right place, iron a shirt properly or bath a child, gives some wives a sense of authority.
As a result these women both resent and cherish being the primary care-giver and their ambivalence puts their partners off volunteering to become more actively involved.
Meanwhile there is hope for women out there who are struggling to juggle the demands of earning high incomes and running the home.
For there are ways to try to encourage your man to do more around the home, no matter how hard the challenge may first appear.
Proving this point is a new newly-formed association for Italian househusbands, the first of its kind in the world.
Italian men have always been proud of their masculinity but a quiet revolution is well under way, with men being taught a how to mend socks, iron shirts, present vegetables at a dinner party and how to don the yellow rubber gloves to tackle the dishes.
Already more than 2,000 men have signed up, and the is association is receiving inquiries from all over Europe.
According to a new book, The Lazy Husband: How To Get Men to do More Parenting and Housework, psychologist and marriage expert Dr Joshua Coleman believes the best way to change men is to do so in a subtle fashion.
He said: “Women have to lead the charge on this. It isn't fair but men have never had it so good, so why would they want the situation to change?
“Be willing to compromise and negotiate, approach with affection ” studies show that men do much more housework and child-rearing when they feel liked and loved ” and be assertive. Set clear guidelines and if all else fails, play hard ball.”
Other tips to get your partner to do more include:
* Appeal to his sense of fair play. If he cares about you, he should be motivated by such a principle. Many men are aware of the disparity in the division of household labour and feel guilty about it, but they don't want their wives to use that guilt against them.
* Suggest that changing his behaviour will benefit him in some way. For example if he does more, he'll get a happier wife in the process.
* Cash in on a favour. Marriage and family life are all about give and take. Remind him of what you've done for him and explain that he owes you one.
* Tell him if you are unhappy with the current arrangement, but don't communicate in a victimised, burdened way. Your tine should be affectionate but unmovable.
* Consider eliminating some of the chores. Look closely at what is really essential to your wellbeing and which activities you do out of habit or to please others.

08 April 2005

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