One of the most underrated jobs in the entire world is that of a stay-at-home (SAH) parent. It is often perceived as a vacation to be able to stay at home and do nothing all day. That is far from the truth!
I have been a work-from-home (WFH) mother for less than a year and I am more exhausted and busier than I ever was working a desk job away from the house. I have lived in both worlds and while I feel so incredibly blessed to finally be a WFH mom, I definitely think it is the hardest job in the world. When I was working at an office, I was envious of the moms who got to be the room mothers, and keep a clean house because they had the opportunity to do so. My house looks like a tornado ran though it 99% of the time, I somehow accumulated a ton of extra errands and the hours are basically nonexistent and zoom by! Now that I am home, I get it. SAH parents don’t just get to kick up their feet, relax and take naps whenever. They are controlled by their tiny human army and the schedules they have to maintain! To be able to get everything done in some kind of organized fashion takes serious discipline and magical powers. To all the parents who work from home or stay at home with the kiddos, I salute you all and say bravo!
The worst thing I have heard from my sweet man is “what is it that you do all day?” Is this a joke? I know it is probably lost on him (like it is on most spouses who work away from home) my personal schedule, the girls schedules and the demands of the business I assist in running, not to mention all the housework, doctor appointments, vet appointments and other surprises that come each day keep me pretty darn busy. He meant it as an innocent question I’m sure, but internally I was slightly offended. Like, I have juggled a million and one things today, kept our children alive while earning my paycheck! Of course I don’t expect a standing ovation, but give a girl some credit! The majority of spouses that work away from home truly aren’t aware of the demands SAH partners need to meet in order to keep a routine. The overall misconception is that being home all day means a ton of rest and zero distractions from keeping the day running smoothly. Don’t misunderstand me, I have crazy respect for every single person who is out there working regardless of their job title. Of course obstacles happen day-to-day. But spouses, do not overlook what you’re blessed to come home to.
Need a little reminder of how to show some love to your partner when you get home?
Here are some quick and simple tips to let your partner know you notice what they do for your household:
- Don’t ask “What have you done all day?” – In my opinion, this is one of the most insulting questions and the quickest ways to make your partner’s head explode. I would be willing to bet a ton of money that your partner woke up with an organized agenda of how they wanted the day to go. Sometimes that agenda goes according to plan and the visual proof is there. Other days, that agenda has gone to hell and it is a miracle if your partner remembered to get dressed that day. Just avoid this question all together. Don’t think it, don’t murmur it, don’t speak it into the universe.
- Ask “How was your day today”…and listen. – So now that we know what NOT to ask, lets go over the best way to approach discovering why it may look like the house exploded laundry and toys. Maybe asking “how was your day” seems simple or obvious, ask it anyway because the kicker is to give your spouse undivided attention and show interest. Showing that you actually care how their day was and carrying the conversation, even if it feels more like a rant, is effective. I’m not saying be a punching bag, but the way to look at it is while being a SAH or WFH parent is a huge blessing, more than likely the only interaction they have had all day is with small children. Adult conversation and attention can make a difference in the day and the tone for the evening.
- Anticipate Their Needs – While your possible expectation is to walk through the door after a long day of work and sit down to a hot, fresh meal in a clean home, that may not be the reality. Maybe those days when you walk through the door and are greeted with chaos vs a hot meal, ask what it is that your partner needs from you and how you can help them out. Assume they may need a break and offer one up! Don’t underestimate the power of the small deeds. Sure, you are tired as well, but remember, you both have worked full-time jobs today. There has to be a little give and take even if it means rolling with the punches that day and taking the lead on some household duties!
- Speak up – Even if you think your appreciation is understood, it is not. Speak up and show your gratitude for what your spouse has done for the family. You may not understand what went on during their day, but it is so simple just to hug them and let them know you are a team. You don’t have to understand one thing to embrace someone and remind them they are appreciated. I know for myself on the days where everything goes haywire, I feel like a failure. Being hugged or shown appreciation turns that all around.
I have experienced the hurt from a false perception of “being home all day” and I have listened to friends express their frustration as well. I know this is a universal struggle, maybe not for every household that has one partner at home, but for a lot of others it can be. My best advice is to appreciate each other and value what each brings to the table. Your contributions are vastly different for sure, but you both need each other. Someone once told me that a successful relationship is not 50/50. Some days you’re the one picking up the slack other days it’s vice versa. I think the most important thing to remember is that genuine appreciation can change a persons whole day!
Just in case no one has told you lately… you are killin’ it being a SAH/WFH parent and your hard work matters!!