They Just Don't Get It - Part 2
I know I may come off pretty strongly with my thoughts about mothers staying at home with their children instead of working, but I speak as someone who’s struggled through it. Looking back, I’m more than grateful I spent that time at home with my children. They were very special years that I would never have recovered, especially once they started school. It was well worth giving up all the “things” and “career” I thought I would miss out on. The bottom line is that children develop faster and are emotionally healthier when they spend their first five years at home with their mother or father. We will have more years with our children as adults, so our job is to be there to prepare them for adulthood in the short time we have them as children. For more information, go to: http://www.babycenter.com/0_staying-at-home-pros-and-cons_6025.bc
If we weren’t such a material-hungry society, it would be much easier for mothers to stay at home. Besides, you’ll probably never hear anyone say, on their deathbed, “I should have spent more time in the office.”
Back to the original article – staying at home with the children alleviates a lot of the problems brought on when both parents work. Most women prefer to be at home doing the mom thing. (As always, there are exceptions.) As I said in the last article and many times before, that’s what God made us to do. Our society misconceptions have caused us to doubt our inner desires because it now goes against the norm. That’s where a lot of the struggles with working women begin. Then add a husband who doesn’t know how to pull his weight around the house, and it’s an equation for all-out war.
So what do you do when you are caught in the midst of a battle at home for “who’s gonna do what?” Here are a few ideas for you to try to begin the journey to peace in your home.
First of all, you need to learn to be patient with your husband. They (most men – except Bill and Tom Ammons and a few others) really don’t get why you want the house so clean or have to wash the dishes before you go to bed. They were made to toil the soil and bring home the bacon. When my husband lived alone as a bachelor, he would pile dishes in the sink and wash them once a week. He came to me with a completely different idea of what our home should look like. I’ve had to retrain him to see how important it is to me, while at the same time, I’ve also lowered my standards so I don’t get so frustrated when things are out of order. I have known a few men who are completely OCD about cleaning, but that’s a whole other set of issues, in my opinion.
Sit down with your spouse at a time when neither of you are hungry, tired, angry, or not feeling well, and discuss who’s going to do what chores around the house and with the children. Tell your husband what you expect and leave him room to negotiate with you. Work out a schedule that works for you both. He may have difficulty sticking with it but don’t be afraid to remind him. And remind him again, and again (without nagging). If it continues to be an issue, plan another time to sit down and rationally discuss it once more. Pray together, first, and ask God to give you both the wisdom and the right words to solve this problem. Involving God can make all the difference.
Be sure to affirm your husband – often and all the time! He may not do it as well as you do, but who cares? (Other than you, who will truly notice? It really doesn’t matter what your mother or mother-in-law think about how your house looks.) Men love to hear those affirming words. I know, we as women do one hundred times what most men do at home without one word of encouragement, but you still need to praise him. If you want your husband to willingly be a part of the housework – AFFIRM HIS ACTIONS!
I always tell my husband how romantic and sexy it is when he does the dishes. He now washes dishes with a smile on his face, and I’m always sure to reward his work. Surprisingly, a little effort from men goes a long way for women. There’s nothing wrong with bargaining, either. For example, when he’s feeling romantic, say to him, “Honey, how about helping me clean up the kitchen first, or let’s just sit and talk for 10 or 15 minutes and then we’ll go do our calisthenics in the bedroom.” You’ll find him willing to scratch your back if you scratch his.
Slow down your family activities. If you feel like every moment of your day is filled with activity, give up something. You need to get back to quality family time, not busyness that fills a calendar and keeps you apart as a family. Have dinner at the table as often as possible. Get your children involved in cooking and cleaning up as soon as they are old enough. Take advantage of this time and make it an enjoyable intimacy for your family. Turn off the television, computers and smartphones for a few hours.
Take time for yourself. A frazzled, trying-to-do-it-all working mom is going to be of no benefit to anyone. Even more importantly, make sure you have enough quality time with your spouse since attention seems to be the main need of most women. When we lack it from our husband, the crazy side of us appears - you know, our alter egos who yell and scream about little issues that don’t deserve such fanfare and aren't the true culprit of our reactions.
Turn it over to God. Look at the positive things your husband does for you and your children. Most importantly, be sure to start praying together every day with your spouse. You’ll be amazed at how God can melt away all the silly little issues before they can turn into insurmountable problems.