Do You Need a Day Off?

I am just going to admit it, I’ve been in a slump.  I can’t call it writer’s block because I actually CAN think of topics to write about, but it is the actually writing process that I am having a problem with.  I  am going to attribute it to the craziness that has been my life the past two weeks with back to school, starting back to work, and trying to find our “schedule”.  I know, excuses, excuses.  Well, I decided to take it to my friends, so I asked on Facebook on Sunday what the people who read what I have to say on a regular basis want me to write about.  I had great responses to my request, enough that I think I shall deem this Facebook week here on the ol blog.  The comment with the most “likes” (over 60 at last look) was from Andrea and this is what she wants to know:

How to get partners to participate more with their Children! Sooo sick of hearing “I work all day you stay home and do nothing” any SAHM knows its NOT easy! Especially when another is coming! Then on their days off they don’t want to help because it is THEIR day off. Where the hell is my day off?

I must first say that I will not refer to moms or dads, only partners, during this post because I have gotten to know quite a few stay at home dads that work their asses off on a daily basis as well.  When thinking about how to attack this post I kept thinking about my This Journey Called Motherhood post from last month.  I think it is so hard for us stay at home spouses to juggle it all.  Cooking, cleaning, homework, changing diapers, take one kid here, take one kid there, pay the bills, you know what I mean.  It seems as if the list never ends.  I decided, for just a minute, take that list and forget about it.  Now imagine that you are the one getting up every morning. You leave behind your little people and your home, and you head to a job that at least 3 out of 5 days you do not enjoy but you go to because your family is depending on you for survival.  If it isn’t for that job you have no home, no food, no car, no money.  The pressure is really on.

For me, I will take the cleaning and the “menial” work that comes with staying home over the pressure of providing all the financial support for my family.  I know how stressed Farmer Bob gets at times, especially since we have been in a drought, and I feel so stressed for him.  I would understand to a point why he would need a day on the weekend to decompress, but he also understands to a point why I need the same thing.  It wasn’t always this way.  We have had our moments of disagreement and selfishness, but we have learned that parenting is also a sacrifice.  Parenthood is such a learning process and I can remember Farmer Bob and I having this same lively discussion about who really needs a “day off”.

When you bring home that first baby, you have this picture of perfection in your mind.  I will wake up every morning with a smile on my face, send my spouse off to work with a kiss and a smile just like a 1950′s housewife.  I will spend my day teaching my baby everything he needs to know and when he naps I will clean the house, do the laundry, and cook supper.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!  Seriously, those pregnancy hormones can do crazy shit to your brain.  Those first few months when baby sleeps most of the time and you actually do get things accomplished are so deceiving.  Before you know it all hell breaks loose and you realize that maybe, just maybe, raising this little person is not always going to be all peaches and cream and that you can NOT do it alone.  You find yourself  deeply conflicted about your decision to stay home and raise the babies.

Hands

Not only are you learning how to be a stay at home parent, but your spouse is learning how to be a working parent as well.   They are learning how to balance being gone all day and playing catch up when they get home.  I don’t know this for a fact, but I would imagine that there would be a small amount of guilt felt by them for missing out on all the things that we stay at home parents get to witness.  Those first smiles, those first giggles, those first steps, that first time they find a pair of scissors and cut out a chunk of hair.  Just as we have moments of jealousy that they get to leave the house ALONE every day, they have those same moments when they walk out the door.  Maybe not every day, like when the kids are screaming at each other as they are heading out, but I am sure that they have them.  You will never know if you never ask.

Your partner, the financial provider, goes to work every day.  They have no idea what you do while they are gone they just know that they come home, the house is clean, dinner is cooking, and they have clean clothes to wear.  They have no concept of exactly what type of miracles you had to perform in order to do those tasks.  Communication is key in sharing with them exactly what it took to get it all done.  They don’t know that you had to hold a screaming baby in one hand while running the vacuum with the other.  They don’t know that you had to keep a busy toddler from throwing all the laundry on the floor before, and after,  you had a chance to fold it.  They don’t know that you were busy body blocking the kids from touching the oven while trying not to burn the hamburger you had cooking on the stove.  Your partner will most likely tell you about their day, shouldn’t you tell them about yours?

Parenthood is such an ever evolving process.  Just when you think you have found your “comfort zone” something changes. A new job, a new milestone, a new baby.  Communication is essential to your emotional survival.  If you cannot communicate about how stressed you are and how you need a “day off” as well, your relationship and your kids are going to suffer.  Yes, it is so important for both partners to have time alone. I look forward to it, even if it is just to go grocery shopping or to go to school to volunteer.  When I am gone, I find myself looking forward to returning home…later.

More importantly, it is imperative for you to say to your partner; hey, I know you are tired after a long week of working, I’ve had a long week too.  How about we go do something as a family to unwind?  Go to the park, go to the zoo, just go out and do something that you all enjoy.  You may be surprised how quickly both of you forget about how stressful your week was and exactly how wonderful your family is.

 

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Great post!!! and sometimes…both people work and it all goes to shit. LOL!

  2. I love that you took an empathetic approach to this question. I’ve worked full-time out of the home, and now I’m a SAHM. My husband’s at work right now. My kids are out in the back yard playing with the neighbor kids. (It’s a teacher-in-service day.) And what am I doing? I’m on the computer, reading awesome blogs. I really can’t say I have it harder than my husband right now. Of course later I’ll be trying to straighten up, cook dinner, etc. and they’ll both be climbing my legs, screaming at each other, and planting lego booby-traps all over the house. Working out of the home is a steady, predictable sort of stress. Being a SAHM means having random crap (both figurative and literal crap) thrown at you all day long. Both jobs are hard. I think the complaint that some SAHM’s have is that sometimes, even though they try to communicate their feelings, they don’t get heard. I have several husbands whose husbands just. don’t. get it, no matter how much they communicate. What would you say to THOSE women? ;)

  3. Thank you for this post. Yesterday my husband was in a grumpy mood and I kept asking him what was wrong, finally after dinner he told me. Basically financially we are in a tough spot right now and he feels all the pressure to provide and work overtime and to make sure we get new tires before winter….and well you get the idea. I sometimes forget how hard it is for him even though it is hard for me. Thank you for this well written timely post.

  4. My divorced neighbors have an interesting “working” relationship. They split a year ago and and take turns working and being the stay-at-home parent. She stays at home Sun-Wed, he’s there Thurs-Sun. They both say the house has never been cleaner, and they’ve never gotten along better. I still think its weird but I had to share lol.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. My hubs and I went through this years ago and, through communication, came to the realization that both of us (me a SAHM and him a hard-working traveling salesman) are equally stressed – just in different ways. He spend nights alone in hotel rooms worrying if he is providing enough and wondering what he is missing. I spend nights struggling to get the kids to do homework, getting them to extracurriculars, baths, bedtime etc. wishing I was in a hotel room alone. It always seems the grass is greener in someone else’s shoes. It definitely takes communication to understand what the other is going through. Great post!

  6. So, so true. Thank you for writing it.

  7. My husband works nights so in addition to the jealousy of him getting to leave the house with no small people hanging off him I also regularly walk past our bedroom when he’s sleeping soundly and the kids are fighting (yes. it happens.) and think “lucky bugger!” Even though its not his first choice to only see the kids for an hour or 2 during those days he’s working.

    • I am in the very same situation. My hub works 12-hr shifts, alternating each month from the day shift to the night shift. When he’s working the night shift, I SOOOOO want to sick the kids (and dogs) on him when he’s sleeping through the craziness of the day. Then of course when he’s working the day shift, when he gets home he’s to tired to help out, but I’m like AAAARRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!! SERIOUSLY, when do WE get OUR break?

    • I get ya. During the summer, Farmer Bob works ALL THE TIME! He is exhausted and while sometimes it is frustrating, I just keep telling myself that it won’t last forever. Your breaks are coming ladies…just give him some time!

  8. I love reading this. I got to stay home with my son for ten weeks after he was born. Afterward, I was so ready to get back to the office. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my son, but at that point, I was still so overwhelmed by having almost 100% of my attention occupied by another person every day. Going to the office gave me an out.

    Now I’ve been at it for a couple of years, and I loathe that I cannot be at home with my little guy. I pick him up from daycare and think, “There’s another day gone where I’ll only have a total two hours awake with him . . . “

    I temper it by thinking how exhausted I was when I was on maternity leave, and when daycare closures or illness mandate I stay home.

    Now, we’re into a place where I’m the sole breadwinner. It’s a hard place to be, and I’ve been letting it quietly eat at me. I let it eat at me so much, I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing until a conversation with my S.O. on Friday. The hurt in his voice when I said, “But why bother talking about it? It is what it is, you know what it is, I know what it is.” He pointed out that the talking about it makes it a shared experience, not just my own. That’s to say that I love the whole post, but this part in particular struck me right now:

    Communication is essential to your emotional survival. If you cannot communicate about how stressed you are and how you need a “day off” as well, your relationship and your kids are going to suffer.

    Amen.

  9. Wonderful post. Parenthood is definitely always evolving with each new milestone, and communication is key. When both partners understand the sacrifices each other makes, life gets a little easier, because I think then both try to outgive each other instead of thinking selfishly. It’s hard work, and that’s one thing you can both agree on!

  10. So much for “writer’s block,” this was a terrific post!

  11. Such a great post and soooo true. You really put it out there, love it!

  12. Tara – I LOVED this post!! You are so articulate, and real…people can relate, and I think you gave everyone of us some great tools to take back to our family. I see a radio show in your future, or maybe a newspaper column….??? :)

    • Oh gawrsh girl…those are some pretty serious words there. I am just riding the ride and if that is where it takes me, then I shall embrace it, with nerves :)

  13. Oh girl. This was perfect. You tackled it wonderfully. Big Sexy works offshore and so many times when he dimes home, I just want to throw everything at him and say “tag …your it.” But I have to remind myself that he works in a dangerous field, away from his family, for two weeks to provide for us….even when he would much rather be home.

    You are so right about communicating…it really is the key.

  14. Awesome! Love it girl, keep up the good work! <3 Devan

  15. I thought this post was fantastic! It is really so much about communication and not who did what and who needs a break more. its not 50-50 when raising kids. its more like both parents doing 99% all the time. I especially like the emphasis on doing things together.
    http://heatherswholenewlife.blogspot.com

  16. Since I got out of school last August I worked one temp job for a couple months in the spring but since then I haven’t been able to find a job. My frustration in not being able to find someone who will hire me without experience spills over sometimes. There is no reason I need to be home. My kids all are older and go to school during the day. My youngest is old enough to be on his own without a sitter. It’s hard on my husband too. He works hard to support this family and we are constantly juggling to keep from drowning. I can feel that he resents that I am home . . . even though I don’t want to be. It just sucks. I know when I was in school I did nothing but eat and sleep nursing. I missed an entire year of my kids lives for absolutely nothing. No one is hiring new grad LVN’s. I am frustrated. He is frustrated. And this is the one thing we DON’T talk about. He’s passive aggressive and I’m avoidant..good pair huh. So back to my point. When I work too he totally helps. A LOT. When I am home he tends to ‘forget’ to pick up his clothes, help with dinner clean up or anything inside but sure has something to say if it’s not neat and clean. Like I said. Passive Aggressive. Yay me.

  17. Thank you this article. I am a SAHM of a very active, independent, fearless 2 year old daughter and my husband travels 2 hours a day to work 4 10 hour shifts. Luckily he is home Friday thru Saturday 75% of the timeless (paper mill shutdowns,side jobs for extra money and he goes to school Monday nights) and we have learned communication on what we need is important. He’s very understanding in realizing that this Mama needs a couple of hours a week to myself and he usually takes our daughter for a walk down to his Moms so I can get a quick shower by myself. It took us almost a year and some counseling for us to get to this point and he knows that if I can just have a little bit of time alone my anxiety and depression doesn’t get so bad and we have a smoother and happier weeks. Plus its football season so I entertain our daughter so he can watch a game in peace as a tradeoff! Thank you for reinstating that communication is so important because it is- it can make or break a marriage quickly.

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  1. [...] I continue writing by request.  If you missed it on Monday, I wrote about needing a day off.  While that post was incredibly challenging for me, I found that once I started, the words just [...]

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