It’s time for dads to do more.
Don’t get me wrong; this generation of dads is the most involved and engaged we’ve ever seen (here are some cool dad statistics to prove it).
But the numbers don’t lie, and the truth is that the division of labor in most households still falls mostly on women — even working moms.
The benefits of dads doing more chores around the house are proven and undeniable. The example you set for your kids is overwhelmingly positive and has a big impact on the way they view relationships when they grow up.
Besides, pitching in more often is the right thing to do, and it makes you a better man and a better dad.
Here’s a list of typical chores dads do or can help out with. Man chores, you might call them!
Some of them are “traditional” man-chores you might already be doing. Others are household tasks that usually fall on women and moms.
Whether you take them over entirely or just get a little more involved, this should be a good starting point on your journey to being a better partner around the house. I’ve also included my best tip for each chore on the list to get you going!
Let’s dive in.
1. Taking trash & recycling out on time
Taking the trash out when it’s full is kind of a no-brainer, but someone has to be the one to remember to drag the trash cans out front the night before pick-up.
(If you live in a condo or apartment, maybe not. But us suburban homeowners know the struggle!)
For us, the trash trucks come super early every Thursday morning, so if you don’t have those bad boys out there Wednesday night, you’re out of luck until next week.
It seems inconsequential, but this is exactly the kind of thing women are often tasked with dedicating brain space to remembering.
Take it upon yourself to make sure this gets done every week — without your partner reminding you!
Pro tip: I like to set an alarm or calendar reminder the day or night before trash pick up. An alarm is even better if you’re really struggling to remember.
It only takes about 30 seconds to drag the cans out front, you just have to get in the habit of doing it every week.
I have a hard ban when it comes to washing my wife’s clothes.
It’s too dangerous, and there are way too many items of clothing that need special washing or drying instructions. I’m bound to screw it up and ruin her clothes (which I’ve done before when trying to play hero-dad).
But you should highly consider doing your own laundry and at least helping out with the kids’ laundry, which can be endless.
This chore, which most often falls on moms and wives, can be absolutely monumental when you’re responsible for everyone’s laundry.
At least get your own out of the queue, for cryin’ out loud.
(Check out: How to wash baby clothes)
Pro tip: The worst part of doing your laundry is actually folding, hanging, and putting it away. The best way to make it suck less is to put your laundry away while you’re watching TV in the evening.
It’s a good way of making that mindless time at least a little productive.
3. Washing the dishes
Did you know that the dishes are often a major source of marital strife?
Again, guess who’s usually responsible for them.
It’s been shown that wives and moms who are left to do the dishes over and over with no help often become more resentful of their partners over time.
Especially if your partner is doing most of the cooking, you should have a healthy contributing hand in getting the dishes done.
It’s nobody’s favorite thing, but a pile of dirty dishes makes the entire house look messy, smells terrible, and makes it harder to cook the next night. You’ve got to get them done!
Pro tip: Dishes are my specialty and one of my main daily chores in our house. The key is you HAVE to keep up with them and do them every day, if not multiple times per day.
When they pile up and start spilling over the sink, you’re in trouble, and the job becomes really overwhelming.
I have a love/hate relationship with the dishwasher, but you’ll usually get the best ROI on your time by unloading and reloading it. It’s the fastest way to get a lot of dishes out of the way quickly, even though it’s a pain.
When it comes to handwashing, I tend to do it frequently, even as we’re cooking, to get things out of the way. If possible, throw on a podcast or audiobook in the evening and go to town — it will make it a lot more enjoyable.
4. Meal planning, groceries & cooking
It’s easy to take this one for granted when your partner is the one who usually does it.
You come home and suddenly dinner magically appears! Awesome!
But coming up with and executing the weekly meal plan is a ton of work, not to mention the pressure to make everyone happy.
You should get involved in this one to lessen the load on your partner or take it on entirely if you’re able.
At the very least, it REALLY helps to have some well-thought-out opinions and suggestions for a few of your dinners for the week so your partner doesn’t have to come up with everything on their own.
Pro tip: If you’re going to be the one tackling the meal plan, I use and love this meal planner and grocery list notepad on Amazon.
It’s a great way to plan out what you’ll eat and figure out the necessary groceries all in one place.
5. Bathtime & bedtime for the kids
During the week, you often only get a short amount of time with your kids in the evening.
So if you’re missing out on bathtime and bedtime, when are you going to even see them?
Believe me, you want to be the one giving your kids a bath at night or putting them to bed as often as possible.
It’s some of the best quality time you can get with them, and if you miss it too often, I guarantee you’ll look back and regret it when they’re older.
All of the other chores on this list can wait.
Pro tip: If you’re taking the time to read books to your kid or kids at night (which you should as often as you can!) I can’t recommend joining your local library enough.
First, it’s just fun to take your kids to the library and explore. Second, you’ll pretty quickly get bored of the books you have at home but you may not want to keep buying new ones (that cost money and take up valuable space).
My daughter and I have been getting a few new books per week from our library and flying through them. It’s a blast.
(Related: See what to pack in your hospital survival kit during delivery.)
6. Seasonal home maintenance
If you’re a homeowner, you’ll find the work never really ends.
You have to make sure you remember to clean the gutters out so your roof doesn’t spring a leak. Speaking of the roof, you’ll want to get that inspected from time to time.
You’ll need to change your HVAC filters every so often, test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and generally keep an eye on, well, everything!
This is a classic dad chore, and one that you shouldn’t let fall through the cracks.
Pro tip: The best way to stay on top of everything that needs to be done is to find a seasonal home maintenance checklist.
You know, a little cheat sheet that tells you what you should be checking in on or having done every spring, summer, fall, and winter.
You can find tons of them online, especially if you search Pinterest, but here’s one I like to get you started.
7. Helping with homework
Your evenings are probably already chock-full of things to get done, but it’s really important to make sure you make some time to check in on and help your kids with their homework.
It’s great if mom is already doing this, but even so, you should be present and engaged as often as you can.
The research is extremely clear that kids with academically-involved dads do better in school.
Pro tip: Resist the urge to help too much or just give your kids the answers.
Encourage them to problem-solve and keep them focused. They’ll develop better study skills that way.
8. School drop-off and pick-up
If bedtime and bathtime are secretly quality time with your kids disguised as “chores,” then so is school drop-off and pick-up.
Some of the best conversations you’ll ever have with your kids will be in the car on the way to or from school.
I know it’s often hard with work schedules, but you don’t want to miss out on this bonding time!
You’ll want them to look back and remember that you were the one there waiting for them when school got out, or to remember your drives in together in the morning.
Pro tip: If you and your partner both work, you’ll need to work out a schedule that works for both of you.
But even if your partner stays at home and can pick the kids up every day, I highly recommend you pick at least one day a week you can be the one to do it, instead.
You may have to do some schedule-gymnastics, but it’ll be worth it.
9. Doctors (and other) appointments
Someone’s got to be the one to make sure the kids get their annual check-ups.
(And don’t forget the every-6-months dentist visits, too).
You’ll want to be involved with this, even if you don’t end up being the one who takes the kids to the appointment, by being in the loop of what’s going on with them and how their appointments go.
Pro tip: Add kid appointments to your own personal calendar, whichever one you use (I like my Google calendar).
Again, the best and most engaged dads are at least in the loop. It sucks to try to plan something and realize there’s already an appointment that day you knew nothing about because you weren’t paying attention.
(This goes for birthday parties and family events, too!)
10. Pet care (feeding, walking, vet, etc.)
Pet dogs and cats are, low-key, a lot of work.
They need feeding and walking every day (or litter cleaning). Plus you have to re-order their food when it gets low, stay on top of vet visits, and possibly give them daily medicines.
If you have pets and you’re not involved with any of that, I highly suggest you start pitching in one way or another.
It’s a lot of stuff for a busy parent to do alone when they’re already taking care of other things, and kids, around the house!
Pro tip: Pet care is all about routine and habit. You’ll need to force yourself to do it regularly for a while before it becomes engrained.
One thing that really helps is getting your pet food on auto-order from a place like Chewy. That way, if you lose track of what’s going on with their food supply, you’ll know one is one the way.
You can always change the order if you need to, but at least it’s in place and you won’t have to remember every time.
11. General clean-up and tidying
This one really never ends, but it’s also a pretty quick-win that can make you feel like you accomplished a lot.
You don’t have to stop everything and deep clean the entire house, but taking 10 minutes to:
- Put away clean dishes
- Pick up toys, artwork, and other kids stuff
- Clear tables & surfaces
Makes a HUGE difference in how your house looks.
Pro tip: Take 5-10 minutes per day and hunt for these quick cleaning wins.
Sort the mail, clear off the “junk” table every house has, or put away the dishes. The house will look a lot cleaner and you even just do one of these things every evening and a few on the weekends.
12. Baby feeding & diapers
Moms and babies have a natural bond that’s hard to dads to replicate, especially in the early days.
But that doesn’t mean you should be on the sidelines for all the messy and important stuff.
If your baby is on formula, take as many feedings as you can. Change diapers as often as possible and embrace the messiness! Mom is probably exhausted and needs as much help as possible.
Plus, this is what parenting is all about. Who would really want to miss out just because it’s hard work?
Pro tip: If mom is breastfeeding, it might feel like there’s not much you can do to help.
She’ll need a lot of support and help in other areas. Help keep her comfortable and offer to hold the baby for a while once the feeding is over. In general, be present, engaged, and supportive as much as you can.
You can find more breastfeeding tips for dads here.
13. Bills and finances
Here’s another classically-masculine chore that you might already be doing.
It’s an important one! And you probably already know, it can be a lot to stay on top off.
But don’t forget long-term financial planning, too. A drop of planning now can make an ocean of difference over the next 20-30 years before you retire.
Make time to look at the bigger picture a few times per year, at least.
Pro tip: Consider working with a financial advisor.
You don’t have to be wealthy to do it. The best ones will work on a commission as you enroll in insurance and investment products and won’t directly charge you for their time.
It’s an amazing feeling having someone in your corner helping you get organized and prepared for your financial future.
14. Lawn & yard work
Finally, we get to THE classic man chore:
Mowing the lawn!
But it’s not just mowing the lawn, is it? It’s edging, weeding, gardening, leaf blowing, and a ton of other stuff.
This is a ton of work and, in most families, it falls to dad. So you’re probably already involved in this to some degree, but there’s always room to step up your game.
Pro tip: IF you can afford it, don’t be too proud to outsource some or all of your yard work.
Yes, it’s like the main dad chore you can possibly do, but keeping up with the yard takes an enormous amount of time that could be spent with your kids, your partner, or doing other chores.
You’ll have to figure out if it fits in your budget and how much that time is worth to you. And heck, you might really ENJOY taking care of the yard.
I’m just saying, don’t feel like paying someone else to do it is off the table just because you’re a MAN.
15. Car stuff
It’s a good idea to regularly make sure all of the family cars:
- Are up-to-date on oil
- Have healthy tires
- Aren’t running on E
- Are relatively clean inside and out
- Have current registration & tags
This is actually a lot of work for a multi-car family!
Take it upon yourself to make sure it all gets done, though, because the consequences can be pretty serious. Not having these things in order can be a serious safety issue or even a legal one.
Pro tip: It’s worth spending some time finding an auto repair shop that you can really trust.
They’re extremely rare and hard to find, but so valuable. It’s great to have a place or team you can count on to tell you the truth about your car and get the job done right when needed.
I LOVE the Honest-1 Auto Care near me. If you have one near you, I highly recommend you check them out — they’ve built a strong reputation on being, well, honest.
And I’ve found that to be the case personally, to the point that I won’t go anywhere else.
16. Home optimization & improvement
Most of this list is about making sure things in and around the house are running properly, as they should.
But is it possible that they could be running better?
Spend some time thinking about how the house could be better organized or more functional.
Do you need more storage options? Is it time to renovate the bathroom?
For lack of a better word, how could you improve or “optimize” the way the household runs?
This one often falls on women, but it’s well worth it for men to give some thought to the bigger picture of the home and what’s working or not working well.
Pro tip: Try to make time to get rid of or donate things around the house, and just generally organize things better.
When I’m cleaning up, I tend to just stick things back into their place without a lot of thought — even if that “place” is overflowing with crap!
That’s fine for quick cleanups, but eventually (at least a few times per year), you’ll want to put some time into cleaning out those cabinets and shelves to make more room, or changing up the layout of certain rooms to make it work better for your family.
So there you have it, an (almost) complete chore list for men and dads!
It’s not 100% complete, of course, because there’s ALWAYS more to do. But if you can take ownership of, or get involved in, most of the stuff on this list… your dad stock will be through the roof. I guarantee it.
Taking more ownership over what’s going on in your house will help your partner out a lot, but it’s really about being a better and more engaged father and man.
It’s just what a grown-up does, and it’s hard to get started but gets easier the more you do.
What did I miss? What are some of the most important chores dads should be doing on a daily or weekly basis?