Fed-up mom calls husband out for hiding in the bathroom when there’s parenting to do

Jan. 27, 2020

It’s a running joke that men take a long time to use the bathroom, but one dad of twins is taking this stereotype to the extreme. In a recent post on Reddit, a fed-up mom revealed that her husband is on paternity leave, but instead of helping out with their newborn twins, he’s dashing off to the toilet every time it’s his turn to be on baby duty. It’s gotten so bad that she had to start cutting off the Wi-Fi to coax him off of the toilet. And she wants to know: Is she in the wrong?

“My husband and I are the parents of twins who are less than a year old,” the mom reveals in her post. “Anytime my husband SHOULD be doing something with the children (it's his turn for a diaper, a bottle, even just soothing a fussy newborn) he ALWAYS goes to the bathroom first.”

Now, you might be thinking, what’s the big deal? Everyone deserves a bathroom break now and then. But the mom goes on to explain that these are not quick or once-in-a-while bathroom trips. “He always takes his phone. He is always watching youtube. His average session is 25 minutes in there, often longer, rarely shorter,” she writes.

She writes that she tracked his bathroom activity and only twice in 10 days did he refrain from disappearing to the toilet and leaving her alone to “finish 80% of the childcare.” So, to stop these disappearances, she’s enacted a new plan:

“Today I started a new rule. If he is in the bathroom for more than 10 minutes, I flip the Wi-Fi off. He has not spent more than 15 minutes in the bathroom at a stretch today, but is extremely upset. I feel like the fact that without the Wi-Fi his uncontrollable toilet issue cleared up rather quickly proves why it needs to be done, but he feels I am being unreasonable, and I need to make sure sleep deprivation isn’t making me an a**hole.”

So far, the mom’s post has over 4,000 comments, and many of the commenters are mad at the husband for shirking his responsibilities as a father

“I’d love to see how long his bathroom trips lasted if he didn’t take his phone into the bathroom for one day,” another person adds. “If he wanted to truly be a supportive father/husband, he’d do that to try to break his habit.”

Other moms say their partners do the same exact thing, and they are sick and tired of it. “You wouldn’t believe how many husbands pull this move, just about every woman I know has this complaint, including myself,” one writes. “I find my partner to be helpful, but it would be more helpful to me if bathroom camp out time wasn’t spread over 3 hours every weekend morning. I would bet in couples with children under 5, that more than 50% of people struggle with this.”

Another mom says, “Yep, my ex did the same thing. The longest was 3 hours. THREE fricken HOURS. And he had no medical issue, just acute selfishness. A woman at my postnatal depression group recommended I do this, and funnily enough, the moment I'd flip the switch on the wi-fi, I'd hear the toilet flush and he'd come downstairs.”

Some asked if the mom has tried talking to her partner, instead of resorting to playing games with the Internet connection. “Your actions are incredibly passive aggressive and his are avoidant,” one person writes. “Neither is healthy. Where is the communication in all of this?”

But the mom says she’s tried talking to her husband, and even suggested he see a doctor if he’s really having digestive issues. In response, she claims he denied that he spends too much time in the bathroom. 

Unfortunately, these kinds of bathroom “campouts” are all too common. A 2018 survey of 1,000 men by the U.K. company Pebble Grey found that men spend, on average, about 7 hours per year hiding in the bathroom to avoid chores and look at their cell phones undisturbed. And 23% of those men called the bathroom their “safe place.” Recently, a few other dads even admitted online to using such bathroom breaks to watch entire movies in short bursts since that’s the only downtime they have.

We all need a break from time to time. There’s probably not a mom on this planet who doesn’t occasionally want to lock herself in a closet with a package of cookies. But the problem with running away and hiding out is that someone has to be around to do the chores, take care of the kids and handle whatever it is that’s making a bathroom or closet hideout seem so appealing. And, too often, it’s moms who are left to juggle it all.

Turning off the Wi-Fi is a clever solution to this mom’s problem, but it’s also yet another thing on her to-do list. Being partners means supporting each other and doing your fair share. And if you’re really being a good partner, your significant other shouldn’t need to monitor your bathroom breaks like you’re another child.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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