kids

"I asked my husband to take on the mental load of feeding his dog. Here’s how it’s going."

In September 2020, I returned to corporate work for the first time in four years. 

During those years, where my primary role was 'minister of domestic affairs', I picked up the kids 100 per cent of the time, managed any sick days 100 per cent of the time, took them to dentists and specialist appointments, planned and cooked dinner every night, made lunchboxes, tidied the house and did the washing every day. 

I organised their little social calendars, bought presents for the birthday parties, took tinned food to the food drive, scheduled the parent-teacher interviews, made their hair into bonfires for crazy hair day, packed their camp bags, sent $2 coins and put them in casual clothes on the right day. And then I went back to work and still did pretty much all of those things. 

Watch: If men lived like women for a day. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

Before we continue, I’d like it noted that my husband is realllly good at his job. Like, top of his field, very dedicated, excellent provider. And in fact, he’s so good at his job that I do not need to work financially, but you know what? I’d like to, because I’m quite good at my job too and frankly I was feeling a little resentful.

Chatting with my mum in her kitchen over a wine a couple of months into my new working arrangement, I said, ‘I really just want to ask Simon to take on the mental load for feeding the dog, but I’m not sure it’s going to be worth it.’ 

She laughed and said, ‘Don’t even bother, it’s just going to be easier to do it yourself.’ While I knew she was right, I thought dammit, it’s his dog - here goes nothing.

Now for context, we have a lovely young Labrador who eats kibble for breakfast (good for teeth says vet) and rice, vegetables and pet mince or kangaroo for her dinner.

We could make life much easier by feeding her kibble only, but she’s in great shape with a glossy coat on this diet and both of us are pretty happy with that. 

“Babe, I’m wondering if you could take on responsibility for feeding the dog,” I say one Monday evening.

“Yeah, sure. I feed the dog don’t I?” he says, confused.

“Yes, you do often feed the dog, but what I mean is, can you keep track of when she needs more kibble to be bought? Can you cook her rice and portion it out with her vegetables and meat? Can you make sure there’s enough vegetables and meat so that I don’t have to think about it?”

ADVERTISEMENT

‘Oh-kaayy,’ he says, with a look that says I’m maybe crazy for thinking this is a deal.

I usually blitz her vegetables in our Thermomix for five seconds, so I show him how to do this. 

Cool. Everything is under control.

Read more: A mum of two refused to clean the house. Days later, she documented the aftermath.

Three days later, Scout is out of rice and vegetables. 

As with every time for the next infinity days, Simon only remembers that Scout is out of rice and vegetables as he goes to the fridge to feed her and finds that there is none in the fridge. 

So right in the middle of dinner prep time for me, he starts boiling rice and putting vegetables in the Thermomix. On this first occasion, he somehow manages to jam the lid. 

I try to undo it for him but I can’t. I can see it’s stuffed and I’m none too pleased as you may be aware that a Thermomix is not a cheap thing.

"I can’t do this!" he yells, bordering on tears. “This is very hard for me!”

Many frustrated utterings ensue as I do my best to disappear and not get involved. Some actual tears escape my 49-year-old husband. I have now seen him cry three times in our 17 years together: at our wedding when talking about his late father; when discussing the Holocaust; and when he almost broke the Thermomix trying to blitz vegetables for his dog.

Later that week he says to me, “We’re almost out of kibble”. 

“Ok, cool. Will you pick some up?” I offer.

“Oh. You want me to buy the dog food too?” he says with surprise.

“Yeah, like can you take full responsibility for her food? I don’t want to have to think about it. At all.”

Now he’s starting to get it. When the hell is he going to get to Petbarn? Which size is he going to buy? Where is he going to store it? 

A few months in to Simon’s Master of Dog Food responsibilities and there are several things that regularly occur:

1. Simon realises that there’s no rice or vegetables at 6:30pm when he opens the fridge to feed the dog. He’ll deal with this in one of two ways. The first is to just feed her a lump of meat and maybe throw in a limp celery stick if we have one and promise himself that tomorrow will be different.

Or, he’ll start cooking rice and whizzing vegetables at 6:30pm right in the middle of me needing the kitchen space. 

2. I come into the kitchen and find a saucepan and spoon with little bits of rice on them sitting in the sink, and/or the Thermomix with remnants of whizzed vegetable sitting on the bench. 

Sometimes I say, “Finished with the Thermo then?”, or “Shall I pop this saucepan in the dishwasher?”, which is not what he wants to hear. What he wants to hear is “Thank you for making the dog food you domestic hero.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Mostly I just wash it and put it away. 

3. Simon finishes the rice and/or vegetables, but knows he’s out the next night and if he leaves it, it will be my problem the next night. Whether he knowingly or unknowingly does this is kind of beside the point.

4. A running commentary is supplied to me on all things dog food-related. I bought dog food. I made rice. I think I’m going to go out to the dog food factory and bulk buy the dog food. I’ve fed the dog. 

And, yes, I definitely imagine how ridiculous it would be if I supplied the same level of commentary to him on feeding the children or doing the laundry. 

We have a beach house that we regularly go to for the weekend or during school holidays. I pack everything for the whole family except for Simon’s personal bag. And bikes. I don’t do bikes. 

Generally packing dog food for the holidays since Simon took on full responsibility for feeding the dog goes like this:

Him: Will you pack the dog food?

Me: Packs the dog food. Or…

Him: Nothing.

Him at the beach house: There’s no dog food.

Recently we returned from the beach house after a long weekend. 

We’d taken separate cars because three kids, a cat and a dog is not a comfortable one car proposition. 

Simon left three hours ahead of me, and I had the dog. I knew there was no rice or vegetables left for the dog’s dinner. As I approached the city in the late evening, I called to ask if he could have the dog’s dinner ready when we arrived. 

“Sure. There’s… wait… no, there’s no rice or vegetables. Ah... I guess I’ll make some now.”

“Thanks baby, you’re amazing.” (Not what I said, but definitely what he would like me to say).

Next up, we’re about to go away interstate for a week. I’ve booked Scout into a kennel for the first time. It still has not occurred to Simon that we probably have to provide dog food to the kennel. 

I debated with myself whether to let this issue just play out, or whether to avert it entirely and went with the latter because I quite like the dog and I didn’t feel like dealing with a husband trying to sort out dog food at midnight the night before travel, which is for sure what would have happened.

So, yeah, by all means “just ask” your husband to take on the mental load of feeding the dog, or whatever other little task is tipping you over the edge, but don’t forget to remind them at every juncture and lay liberal praise on any and all efforts. 

*Simon would like it noted that he also puts the rubbish out, pays for the cleaner, picks the children up on Thursdays and empties the dishwasher pretty much every time.

Feature Image: Supplied.