My friend has a stay-at-home husband and they are really having a hard time when it comes to the issue of who’s turn it should be to watch the kids when she gets home from work. The kids want their mom, but she needs some alone time. Her husband feels like he's never off duty and rationalizes that she gets to leave home every morning so she gets a break at work. She said that if they could have 100 percent alone time every once in a while then they'd be better with one another and the kids. So anyway, I know there is probably an article with this already, but it's that specific "me time" angle that she was talking about. Any suggestions I could pass along to her would be great. Thanks!
Well, you’ve come a long way, baby! The times have surely changed with lots of women in the workforce, while the men are the ones who have chosen to stay at home with the kids. In many instances, this is likely a financial decision.
But whether it’s Mommy or Daddy who stays home, there’s probably one aspect that remains the same; one thing that is gender-less. It’s just downright hard to be with the kids all day. It’s no wonder that when the working spouse comes in the door, the stay-at-home parent wants a break. From his or her perspective, the working parent has, at least, had the opportunity for a different type of stimulation.
However, being at work all day is certainly stressful and has its own pressures. It’s difficult making the shift from a long workday into the home environment. Usually it requires a little time to shift gears.
And so the strain begins. Each adult has his or her needs and these needs are in conflict.
So, how does this get resolved?
I believe there are a number of pointers I can offer:
1. Each partner has to be understanding of the other’s perspective. Though they are coming from a different vantage point, each of them is correct.
2. Both have to embrace the idea that it really is okay to take time for yourself—it’s better for yourself and your children to do so. If you continue to take on more and more without a break, it only leads to overload and burnout. Allowing yourself some time for self-care helps you to refuel.
3. Since it’s difficult for the stay-at-home parent to take a break from the kids while the kids are around, it’s advisable if the working parent spends a few minutes switching gears before walking in the door. To do this, do some deep breathing and muscle relaxing; perhaps take a few moments to visualize a very pleasant memory. Put a smile on your face and come into the house.
4. It will be helpful if the stay-at-home parent (in this case the husband) sets up a routine that starts to calm everyone down in preparation for the working parent to come home. It’s hard for everyone if the evening begins with chaos.
5. Remember to schedule into your week some relaxing couple time—even if it’s only 15 minutes.
Having children is challenging. But with a few planned strategies, working and stay-at-home parents can make it work. Having good friends like you also help!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is the author of "Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life" and co-author of "Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make it Last." You can sign up for her free monthly newsletter with relationship tips at www.ChoiceRelationships.com