Helping At Home After Returning To Work
Q: Working from home during the pandemic was a revelation for me about what my wife does as a stay-at-home mom caring for two little kids. Now that I'm back at the office, how can I continue to help shoulder the load?
Jim: A lot of guys got that wake-up call over the last year-and-a-half, while moms are saying, "It's about time!" Here are a few ways you can help:
First, when you come home after a long and tiring day, remember that your wife's day was equally (or more) exhausting. She needs two things at this point: 1) adult conversation, including true appreciation for what she's been doing; and 2) a pair of hands to pitch in and help with the kids, the dishes and so on.
Second, don't expect to be taken care of like another child. Pick up your own clothes and toys.
Third, don't expect much sexual response if your wife is exhausted and you haven't done much to help. As my friend Dr. Kevin Leman says, "sex begins in the kitchen" -- with meaningful conversation, compliments and acts of kindness.
Fourth, be involved in the process of preparing your children for bed. This provides relief for your wife and also gives you quality time with your little ones.
Fifth, maintain a regular date night -- a restaurant, a walk, a concert or whatever your imagination and budget can manage.
Sixth, if your hours at work are too long, make a real effort to cut back. Don't fall for the wrongheaded idea that your career is more fulfilling than your life at home.
Finally, try to escape for a romantic weekend periodically and give your wife a break from her daily responsibilities. With planning and creativity, this doesn't have to be expensive.
Q: Our family is so busy trying to balance all the demands on everyone's schedule. With the kids' endless activities and school requirements, I sometimes wonder if they should have the added burden of doing chores. What do you think?