By Melissa Stefanec
I had numerous serious topics I wanted to address this month: How to teach your child self care; the weight of a mother’s mental load; how dads can become as revered as moms; ways to talk to your middle schooler about sex.
However, the gravity of those topics soon became too much for my tired brain. I decided this month’s column should contain more levity.
So, I’m going to share what I, as a mother, think is alluring behavior from my spouse.
This has really changed over the years. There was a time, before children, where I thought him writing chain poetry with his friends and sipping a beer with an orange slice in it was very attractive. Many years ago, him playing music in bars until 2 a.m. and me being his favorite groupy was a real thrill.
Then, we got married and became parents. The “what’s hot” goal post moved. I stopped finding a rock-and-roll lifestyle or artsy-young-man antics quite so titillating.
That stuff was still cool, but I needed more. I needed a man who could change a diaper and go to bed at 9:30 p.m. I needed a partner who was quick with wit and quick with a burp cloth. My husband rose to the occasion.
Now that our children are in elementary school and middle school, the “what’s hot” goal post has moved again. So, if you’re a dad (or the person who assumes the societal norms of being a dad), listen up. Here are the cliff notes from my “What Drives Middle-aged Women Wild.”
• Knowing your kids’ shoe sizes
I know it’s a minor detail, but knowing this information without looking inside a dirt-caked sneaker is really hot. If you want bonus points, cruise the second-hand marketplace sites for like-new finds. Forget candles and soft music; bring your partner a pair of kids’ barely used winter boots that are sized up for the next season.
• Emailing the teacher before I do
Whether it’s for birthday treats, the family vacation, details for the science fair or just to say thank you, you can gain admiration by emailing the teacher before your partner does. Being an attentive dad is hot.
• Cleaning the house while listening to music she likes
If you’re a middle-aged dad, you should know how absurdly attractive men doing housework is by now. If you missed that memo, it’s not too late. Pick up a broom or mop and do a clean deed while listening to her favorite songs. Rocking out to spin-class hits while singing into a mop microphone is bound to land you on the nice list.
• Reading to the kids instead of giving them screen time
Limited screen time can be a savior. After a long day of work, chores and life tasks, getting some quiet time by way of screens is very appealing. However, if you want to really knock the socks off your partner, skip the screens and go LeVar Burton on your kids. Whether it’s a picture book or a chapter book, you can score extra “hot” points for doing all of the characters’ voices.
• Not texting her about kid stuff when she’s out with her friends
Kudos to all the dads out there who let their spouses sneak off for some solo time or time with friends. However, there is a way you can spice up this little act of kindness. Try not calling or texting her things like, “Do we have another bottle of ketchup?” or “Where are the bike helmets?” Your silence will speak sexy volumes.
• Cleaning out your stuff
Clutter is no good for anyone’s brain, but if your spouse is adversely impacted by clutter, try getting rid of it. Sure, you can wait and see if a sweater vest with a dagger and skull falls back into vogue. Or you can stuff a few trash bags full of stuff you don’t need and donate accordingly. If that vest becomes a coveted vintage item in 2035, you can enjoy a night of “I told you so.”
• Phoning the pediatrician
If you want to wow the mother of your children, try calling the pediatrician the next time your kid is sick. Sure, talking about the color of mucus, when the rash started, whether the rash is raised or flat, and recounting the number of times someone vomited last night doesn’t seem like pillow talk. However, taking that task away from your spouse is hot, hot, hot. And, you know what’s even hotter? Taking an hour off from work to bring your kid to an appointment.
• Teaching the kids how to do something new
Kids may learn fast, but teaching them new skills takes time. If you are the sort of dad who can teach the kids a new skill, your partner will take note. It doesn’t matter if that skill is tying shoes, flipping a pancake, Texas hold ‘em, how to rollerblade or the proper angle to hold the dustpan. Giving your valuable time to do something extra for your kids makes a mom’s heart beat faster.
Despite what mainstream marketing feeds us, most women don’t want fancy jewelry, flowers or the best handbags. We want something money can’t buy—headspace. As a hardworking mom who has a lot on her plate, I can almost guarantee that giving your partner a little headspace is hot. Now, all you have to do is get the kids to bed on time.