Thursday, March 31, 2011

What I Learned While Being A "Working Mom"

Last weekend I attended a Doula's of North America (DONA) training to start the process of becoming a certified birth doula. For three days I was away from my family from 8:00am to 5:00pm and only saw my baby girl every 4-5 hours for the ten minutes she needed to nurse. Not only was the training itself awe inspiring and extremely educational, but I also got the added benefit of trading my husband places for three days. He was able to see what it's like to stay home with the kids, while I went to "work". I think my marriage is all the better for it. My husband seems to have a little more appreciation for the patience and work it takes to stay home with two little ones, and I was able to see the difficulties in switching from "work" to family life. Playing the role of the working parent opened my eyes to a few little things that can make a husband's day so much more enjoyable, and create a home that he wants, not has, to come home to. Here are some tips I learned:

1. Welcome Your Husband at the Door
After being away from family all day, and being mentally and physically exhausted, there was nothing I wanted to see more than my family's faces. It was disappointing to walk in the door to nobody and have to go searching the house to find them. There would have been nothing more refreshing after a long day than to have a small kiss and hug from my husband at the door. Kids do this without thinking. The second my husband walks in the door their whole world stops as they run to greet daddy at the door and give him a big hug. How often are we so caught up in the children or what we would rather be doing that we ignore our husband's sudden presence in the home when he returns from a long day at work.

2. Allow a Time for Transition
When we have had a very busy and stressful day with little ones, often the first thing we want to do is transfer the kids over to our husbands the second he walks in the door. After all, he hasn't had to change six poopy diapers and deal with whining all day. He's just been at work. Hold off.  Instead, try giving your husband a little transition time from work to home life. It's hard, mentally, going from being a man in the work field to being daddy the diaper changer. I know in the few days I was gone, it was a little difficult to go from, doula training mindset, back to mommy mindset. I have known a few women who give there husbands a set amount of time (say 15-30 minutes) when they arrive home to just relax before taking on any children duties. I know this may seem strange, being that we as mothers take care of children all day every day with no "transition" breaks, but if these few minutes can make your man a better husband and father for the rest of the evening, they are well worth it.

3. Ask Him How His Day Was
I know the first thing we want to talk about when our husband walks in the door is how Johnny pooped on the couch and Susie threw up three times, but hold off. Your turn will come. It was nice to walk in the door from doula training with things I wanted to share from my day, and have my husband ask me how my day went without first telling me everything that happened in his (although he was eager to share, as well). I think sometimes we forget that our husband actually have a whole life at work, one that he spends 8 hours a day living. It's not some black hole he disappears in to and comes out unaffected. His job and workday are a huge part of his life, and in that sense a huge part of yours as well. Get to know more about what he does and ask detailed questions about his day (if possible). He will repay you by asking about your day in return and actually listening to what you have to say.

This post was in no way meant to insult anything my husband did while staying home for those three days. I don't expect him to become Mr. Mom in such a short time. Rather, I feel in these three days I was able to see  life from both a husband's and a wife's perspective. In getting to experience what it's like to go to work and come home after a long day, I was able to learn how I as a wife could make my home one my husband loves to come home to.

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