What’s Gonna Work? Team Work:10 Tips for Stay-at-home Moms and Dads
For many two parent households, the decision to have both parents work outside the home, and/or have one stay home to care the for the kids is never an easy one (even moreso in these tough economic times we’re facing). In either circumstance, it takes a strong team to create a balanced household and ensure that things run smoothly on the financial and domestic fronts.
For those families that opt to have a parent stay home, it’s quite common that the mom takes on that role, while the dad goes out and works. In my case, however, I’m the primary wage earner and my husband stays home with our daughter. We had very few examples of what this family dynamic would look like, as it’s such an uncommon scenario – at least in our social circles. So, we’ve set out to define for ourselves what our roles are as husband, wife, mommy, and daddy.
Before I went back to work from maternity leave, I took some ‘reflection notes’ to refer back to when I wanted to remember how it felt for me on those days I cared for the baby by myself. I hoped doing this would increase my level of sensitivity for my husband when the tables were turned. It’s been a few months now and after recently re-reading the notes, I thought they might be helpful reminders to other families out there!
For the parent that works outside the home, try to remember these things:
- After you get settled in, offer to spend time with the kid(s) for a few hours (feeding, play time, bath time, etc.) to give your spouse a break.
- Don’t be judgmental if the house isn’t clean or in order. You don’t know what kind of day your spouse might have had that kept them from busting out the Pine-Sol before you walked through the door.
- Do your best to be supportive in whatever way you can, however you’re most needed.
Conversely, for the parent that stays home, try to remember:
- Working an 8+ hour day can be long and hard, too. Just because your spouse wasn’t chasing after a child all day, that doesn’t mean they’ll come home with untold amounts of energy.
- Coming home can essentially be a second shift of work with a whole new set of tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but be clear about the things you need help with for the evening, such as dinner, helping with homework, etc. (unless your spouse is a professional mind reader…which, isn’t likely).
- While it shouldn’t be an expectation or mandate by your spouse – making the home a calm and welcoming environment can do wonders for de-stressing from the day and switching gears. Doing things like having the television turned off for a little while during the evening can go a long way!
Ultimately, what I’ve learned so far is this: the key to running a well balanced household requires a collaborative effort from both parents. It helps when you both try to consider the other person’s day and meet them at their point of need. The more things you do together as a team, the quicker they’ll get done and you both will feel better because the workload will be distributed evenly.
Some other ways to do that are:
- Whoever cooks, the other one can help clean up the kitchen and wash dishes.
- Offer to do a couple of loads of laundry if you’re not the one who regularly does it. One can wash and fold, and the other can put the clothes away.
- Take turns going to the grocery store.
- Give each other free days. A few times I’ve come home and kicked my husband out the house! Whether it’s for him to see a movie, grab a burger, or make a coffee run…I have forced him to have his own ‘me time,’ that didn’t involve me or the baby in any way. Likewise, I’ve had dinner dates with my girlfriends, trips to the nail salon, a visit to the mall, etc. to do the same.
Lastly, if you’re a single parent but have a solid support system around you – don’t be afraid to ask for help! Call on those grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends that promised to be there for you and hold them to their word!
Good luck and don’t forget: team work makes the dream work!
Note: This post is featured today on The Young Mommy Life 🙂