For many families, the decision to have one parent stay home to care for the kids is not always an easy one. It takes a strong team to create a balanced household and ensure that things run smoothly on the financial and domestic fronts.
My husband became a stay-at-home dad and full time student after he was laid off from his job during the recession. This was a new dynamic for us and there was a huge learning curve as we tried to figure things out. These are some tips we learned along the way that helped our marriage survive and thrive as we embraced our new normal with one parent at home.
For the parent that works outside the home, try to remember:
- 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. If you’re not sure what that is, ask.
For the parent that stays home, try to remember:
- Even though your spouse may not have been changing diapers or chasing after a child all day, they’re still tired too, after working 8+ hours.
- 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. to reduce frustration.
- Doing simple things, like having the television turned off for a little while during the evening can go a long way to create a welcoming environment when your spouse gets home, and possibly enhance their ability to shift their focus out of work mode more quickly.
Some Tips for the Both of You:
- 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.
- Give each other alone time. This is worth its weight in gold! Time alone allows for each of you to refresh and recharge.
Ultimately, the key to running a well-balanced household requires a collaborative effort from both parents. Whether both or only one of you works outside the home, 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.
BMWK: How you balance life with a spouse that stays at home during the day?