Dear Spouses of Stay at Home Parents,
Imagine receiving an email that says something like:
I know you were looking forward to your weekend, spending time with your family and having a little time to rest and relax. Unfortunately, I’m going to need you to work on your day off. Not a full day, but almost. And you’re not going to be compensated, not even with a ‘Thank You.’ And just because it’s a weekend doesn’t mean you can take it easy, I’m going to need you to still take care of all of your usual work responsibilities and no, there won’t be anyone else in the office to help you. I’ll be out with my friends, so please don’t bother trying to get a hold of me.
See you Monday!”
Who would put up with that, right? Well, that’s how it feels every time you say something like “I’m going out after work/on the weekend.” I can pretty much guarantee all your spouse hears is “Hey, have fun dealing with the kids on your own again while I go have a nice time with my friends.”
I get it, we all need a little “me” time in life. But I don’t think you get it: ALL of my time is with-the-kids time. There is NO such thing as “me” time when you’re a stay at home parent. And I don’t understand why your “me” time can’t involve a kid (or two).
I understand that you work very hard during the week and like having the opportunity during your off hours to do things you enjoy and sometimes those things don't involve your family. But what you need to understand is that any second you're not home, is a second I'm doing the same thing. In my life it doesn't matter if it's Monday or Sunday, whether you're at work or the golf course, my responsibilities are the same and I don't know anyone who can handle doing the same thing day after day after day without a break or help (and remember, the only time I'm not working is while ALL the children are sleeping at the same time which usually coincides with the time I need to use to rest and recouperate).
While you get to drive to work in peace each day, my car rides include a Frozen sing-along and arguing over whether we’re going to listen to “Love is an Open Door” or skip over it.
While you sip your fresh cup of coffee and chat about the weekend by the water cooler, I guzzle down my cold coffee just to the get the caffeine in my system so I can make it through the day.
While you enjoy a nice lunch with your coworkers, I’m enjoying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while having chickpeas chucked at my face by an angry toddler (who can’t have bread, peanut butter OR jelly).
While you are having an afternoon cup of hot coffee, I’m arguing with angry preschoolers over why they NEED to take a nap.
And while you’re driving home, I’m trying to make dinner while holding a screaming toddler who is hungry and has trouble waiting for you to get home because you’re running late due to “just one more thing” that needed to get done today.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. There is no where I would rather be than with my kids, experiencing the world and teaching them everything I know about it.
But being a stay at home parent is hard, exhausting and overwhelming and sometimes I just want a little help, I just long for a little company and I just need another person around to leave in charge when it gets to be too much I need a “me” minute.
I look forward to our dinners together and family weekends not only for my sake but because our children look forward to it too. They adore you, wait eagerly for you to arrive home and miss you when you’re gone.
I’m exhausted by having to explain to them why you have to be away again. Why you’re not home even though you don’t have to work. Why you’d rather be with your friends than with us even if you don't (but they do ask).
I know it can be crazy, but family time is important for all of us and while you may not see it, we’re all better when we’re together. (And by the way, I actually like spending time with you and just really wish you were around more.)