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10 phrases to describe dads that don’t reduce them to babysitters

We've said it before here at Motherly, dads should be seen as partners—not just 'helpers.' But this week at a coffee shop in Iowa, O'Rourke spoke to a crowd of citizens and reporters, and joked that his wife, Amy Hoover Sanders, is raising his kids, "sometimes with [his] help."

The statement was tweeted by Washington Post reporter Matt Viser and quickly ignited a controversy online, with some parents offended and others feeling that the comment was a joke.

But experts say even if O'Rourke's comments were a joke, they highlight the extra burden that working mothers carry, and that men don't. And that's not funny in 2019.

"Comments like this might seem harmless or made in jest, or maybe even a form of praise for women's hard efforts at caring for kids. But these comments aren't harmless," sociologist Caitlyn Collins, author if the new book, Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving, tells Motherly.

"But I'd say that it's problematic for any men—especially those in positions of power—to reference 'babysitting' or 'helping' raise their kids rather than egalitarian parenting. This rhetoric suggests that childrearing is primarily women's responsibility," adds Collins.

As Claire Kamp Dush, associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University, previously told Motherly, "Women need to ban 'my husband helps me a lot' from their language."

So here are seven phrases we can use instead of calling dads helpers:

  1. Instead of, "I'm so happy my husband's babysitting tonight," try, "I'm so happy to have a partner who can stay home with the kids tonight."
  2. Instead of, "My partner's great, he helps me a lot with the baby," try,"My partner is great, he's such a competent father."
  3. Instead of, "My partner watches the baby for me while I work," try, "My partner parents the baby while I'm at work."
  4. Instead of, "My husband helps with household chores a lot", try, "We try to keep responsibilities around the house equal."
  5. Instead of, "Thanks for helping me with the kids today," try, "Thanks for being such a great dad."
  6. Instead of "Why don't you want to watch the baby by yourself" try "You've got this. You're a competent dad. I trust you."
  7. Instead of, "You need to start helping with the laundry," try, "I have a lot on my plate. You need to do some laundry, too."

And here are a few phrases for dads like Beto to use:

  1. Instead of, "She's raising the kids, I'm just helping," try, "My partner shoulders a lot of responsibility and I really appreciate her."
  2. Instead of, "I can't come I'm babysitting my kids," try, "I can't come, I've got my kids today."
  3. Instead of, "I help out a lot at home" try, "I put in effort in around our house."

Because if fathers are labeled as helpers, they are by definition not equal parents. And we know that that is what millennial fathers want to be, and what American families need them to be.

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With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

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Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

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$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

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One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

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EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

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Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

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We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how to just be happy in the midst of it all.

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