A friend sent an email asking a bunch of SAHM how to relate to their SAHP. It got me thinking about how I've noticed a lot of the SAHP complaints are similar and wanted to write about it, in case anyone is ever interested to forward onto their mate, for SAHP validation, to staple to someone's head as a way of getting a clue. That said, a lot of this can be applied to any parental situation.
1. Don't mess with our routine. It's not easy finding a groove and once we have it, we likes it! This was a huge complaint on one of the SAHP boards I visit, that when working parent stays home, they like to tinker with the day. Nope, don't do it. We don't come to your work and tell you how to operate, this is our job and while constructive feedback should be received, time and place are everything. Not during the routine though! Try after dinner, when kids are in bed, over a glass of wine.
2. Don't undo our work. Know a good way to tick off a SAHP? Go through that mountain of laundry they folded and piled, and destroying it. Whether you're searching the bottom of the pile for gym shorts or throw a bunch of other clothes on the pile looking for school uniforms, you've just undid a lot of work. And it's not like laundry is fun. It's like me coming to your office and deleting a braindead, but soul sucking document you've been working on.
3. If you don't like dinner, be gentle about it. Even awesome amateur chefs such as myself *g* has a recipe flop every now and then. Chances are if you don't like it, I'm not liking it much either, but that doesn't mean I didn't put effort into it and am probably way more disappointed than anyone else that it wasn't the dinner I ordered from the catalogue.
4. Don't interrupt "me time". SAHP get so little of it, and I can guarantee you that if anyone over 5 comes and bugs me while I'm trying to blog, they get a growl. If your SAHP is looking after little walkers, chances are they don't even get to pee alone, so a quiet respite is pretty precious. Extra brownie points if you take the kids to the park for an hour.
5. Don't interrupt "me time". I just had to say it twice.
6. Get couple time. It is so lovely being able to stay at home with one's children. To be able to play and explore and help them make cookies and talk current events...well scratch the last one. Adult time isn't always easy for SAHPs to come by. When the kids are in bed, and even if you're tired, you've got to dig down for that last reserve of energy (Dearest has been known to down a cup of coffee at night) so that your SAHP gets to talk to someone about something other than dinosaurs, animals, Dora, Fairy princesses and cookies. Unless of course, you want to come home to find your SAHP actually believing they're a Doodlebop.
7. Lend a hand with the housework. You're either going to get a SAHP or a housekeeper. Now SAHP does involve housekeeping, but you wouldn't hire a nanny and expect the house to be spotless while she's taking care of your kids. Same dealie with being a SAHP. Everyone needs to pitch in. On a good day, laundry can be completely, dinner on the stove and the house in perfect, but that requires the stars in perfect alignment and the children to be sick with the flu, parked on the couch and watching movies all day. So help pick up, or bring home flu bugs every week.
8. Be proactive. Some jobs are too big for just one person, so if you get your SAHP to agree to help you organize the office, go and get the filing cabinets, the files, the labels, the shelves-install them, so that when your partner diverts some time and energy from that tantilizing load of laundry, they are all set up and ready to go. When you get home, throw in that load of laundry.
9. Give them sick days. This is a biggie. SAHPs don't get sick days as a rule, and many SAHPs use this as a badge of honour (Why? Because they're crazy!) but every once in a while, the kids bring home a plague so fierce that our built up immunities have no chance. Special attention goes to SAHPs who are battling a chronic illness or are pregnant since those immune systems are often out of whack. Most SAHPs will work through a nasty cold or worse, but if your partner is battling a fever, infection, serious stomach upset, it might be wiser to use a sick day of your own to get them back on their feet before they get really ill. I rarely get sick, but when I was pregnant with Baby D I couldn't shake off a chest cold, neither could A Dude. We finally went to the doctor and A Dude was near pneumonia and I was well on my way. Thankfully treatment and some serious rest prevented it from getting any worse. But I was fighting this for two weeks, so should have taken care of myself sooner.
10. Praise, praise and more praise. This is a hard job, we gave up careers and/or earning potential, lunches with work chums, opportunity to use our working part of grey matter, potty breaks. Chances are your SAHP worked to get to where they were before they came home to look after the children. It's a hard job, with bosses who run the gamut of happy squealy things to raging psychopaths and there's no HR department or union to back you up. Sick time is nil, lunch time is nil, naptime is often nil, downtime is a hard thing to wrangle. Society doesn't really value a SAHP's job like it should be valued. You're measured by the size of your paycheque and that's not in our job description. So you've got to be the cheering section. Think about what it means to you to have your partner stay home. Think about what they've given up. Think about the impact they're having on the wee ones and yourself. Remind them frequently what a positive thing it is for the family. Praise can also be accompanied by gifts, big or small, but they should be thoughtful, a book your partner has been meaning to read, a date night, a voucher for a cleaning service, laundry completed, car cleaned, you name it. Remember, we have pint sized tyrants of bosses, we'll take all gifts so long as someone put a second of thought into them.
So the baby is napping and I have to go be creative with dinner and put away some laundry. I am uninspired and quite tired, but by the time 6pm rolls around, dinner will be served and it will be yummy and the laundry should be put away, barring any curveballs, then all bets are off, but that is just part of the job.