How a Dad Can Help Mom Adjust to Stay-at-Home-Mom Status
The adjustment to being a stay-at-home mom can be just as challenging for your partner as heading back to work, only in different ways. As wonderful as it is to have the opportunity to raise your own child during the day, it can be an isolating experience. Some women find themselves a bit stir-crazy from all the indoor time and begin to crave adult interaction.
Here are some ways to help your partner transition to staying at home:
Repeat after us: Raising a child is a job. Sure, staying at home may seem at times like a dream gig — access to the TV all day, no more commuting — but resist the thought that she’s got it made. As you know full well by now, taking care of a baby is exhausting. Babies require full-time attention and are the most demanding bosses on earth.
Remember that her office is your home. If your partner suddenly has higher standards for the cleanliness and tidiness of your home, help her keep it that way. She’s now in the house all day, every day, and as strange as it may sound, you need to treat your home as her office, too.
Encourage hobbies. Mental boredom is inevitable, no matter how much you love your child. Stacking blocks, reading books, and taking long walks can be fun, but urge your partner to take up a hobby that’s just for her that works her mind and gives her something to focus on other than baby.
Give her personal time. When you get home from work, you’ll both need some time to decompress from a long day. Make sure to give her as much time off from baby duty as she needs. Plan relaxing surprises for her, such as a massage, every once in a while to make sure her emotional needs are being met.
Work together to create an evening schedule that allows both parents ample baby-free time. Alternate being responsible for bath time, reading, the bedtime routine, and so on, to give both of you free time to relax. Just because you’re away from baby all day doesn’t mean you should be the sole caregiver when you get home.
Ask her about her day. Just because she’s not in meetings and dealing with bosses doesn’t mean she won’t need to talk about the challenges and events of the day. Be sure to ask how she’s doing — it’s easy to do, but easy to forget.
Don’t think of her as your maid/errand girl. Just because she’s home all day doesn’t mean picking up your dry cleaning, making dinner, grocery shopping, and vacuuming are all her responsibilities. She has more time to do things around the house, but don’t give her a list of things to do for you.
Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you’re her boss. Thank her profusely for everything she does do, which benefits the both of you every day.
Some days you hate your job, and the same rings true for the stay-at-home parent. Imagine how you’d feel if you never got a day off from your job. A stay-at-home parent works every day, and nights and weekends, too, so if your partner reaches the boiling point, don’t hesitate to offer her a day off.
Either take a vacation day to stay home with your child or encourage her to find alternate childcare for the day.
You may be surprised how much stress will be removed from your life when your partner transitions to full-time childcare and can take care of some of the chores and tasks that eat up your precious weekend, but don’t have unrealistic expectations. Taking care of a baby is a full-time job as it is.
To help both of you adjust to her stay-at-home schedule, sit down together and work out what her new role will look like to ensure the two of you expect the same things.
Create a “job description” that will benefit the entire family and help avoid frustration down the road, and be open to modifying it if she discovers that, say, doing all the laundry and cooking in addition to her childcare duties is exhausting her.