When my wife and I had our first child we were lucky to be in a position where she didn’t need to work and could be home with the baby. One of my goals from a young age was to be able to provide for my family in this way but reality had different plans.
We settled into a routine. I went to work, my wife stayed home, I came home, we ate dinner, put the kids to bed and I sat around. I’m not sure how it happened. But at some point, home became a place of anxiety. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I wasn’t in our home, I was in my wife’s home and I was nervous to mess things up.
In retrospect this is ridiculous.
My wife didn’t complain too much about my lack of helping with housework but I’m sure she wondered why I didn’t help out more. Honestly, and this is stupid, it had a lot to do with not feeling stewardship in the home or in my family. The home was my wife’s domain and I did not want to mess up her domain. I would literally come home and pace because I didn’t know what to do with myself.
This continued for a while, I would struggle to take ownership in my home and family. I resorted to going outside and working because it felt like I could work without intruding on anyone’s space.
I would literally come home and pace because I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Finally, after our second child was born my wife decided that she wanted to get a part-time job and its really changed things for the better. I suddenly had to be much more involved with the responsibility of parenthood. When my wife was at work I suddenly felt in charge of the kids and the home. That meant I had to come with plans, clean up, make dinner, do bedtime, organize laundry, pickup and dropoff the kids, etc. That sounds like a lot but it was actually really great. Sure it was hard sometimes but it brought me closer to my children and then it brought me closer to my wife.
She had always felt hurt when I needed to work late. She thought I didn’t care about the family. But suddenly, she needed to work late sometimes. She was balancing the needs of work with the needs of home and she understood me much better. I understood her better too. Taking full responsibility for house and kids (even if its only 3-4 nights a week) made me understand the struggle to keep things in order. Being alone with the kids for hours taught me what my wife was dealing with. We oscillated a bit between understanding each other and completely switching places. Suddenly, I was the one wondering why my spouse wasn’t spending more time with me. Suddenly, my wife was the one wishing that her spouse would be more empathetic to the balance of work and home. As a result, both of us understood each other better.
And, it was a great chance to connect with my sons.
List of things I’ve done alone with my boys since my wife started working
- Hiked to a waterfall
- Went to a Mongolian BBQ (FIRE!)
- Built forts and played video games
- Built obstacle courses and timed each other while having a dance party
- Gone sledding
- Hiked to an awesome giant swing set
- Gone to see the UP house (its only 20 minutes away)
- Put on a movie while I made dinner (lol)
The great thing is that my activities with the boys aren’t limited to when Mom is gone. Now I find myself suggesting and planning way more for the whole family. I even plan more dates and solo outings with my wife. And when I do go out with the boys I tend to take more pictures and share them with my wife while she’s working. She’s started doing the same with me.
It hasn’t been without its tough moments but I’m so glad we’ve gone through this. The whole family is closer. I plan more activities and do my share of house work. My wife interacts with other adults and we have more interesting conversations and more empathy for one another.
I’m not saying that having a two person working household is the ideal for everyone. But in our case, in this particular time, it’s been really great for our family.