I just read an article that has me fuming. Why? Because it is all too common. So common in fact that the writer of the article, a woman, did not see a problem with it. (And this was a secular, typically feminist, magazine!) Here’s the quote: “Given the surprise nature of the date, she didn’t know to arrange a babysitter and, besides, they had Mass and Mother’s Day brunch the next morning.”
What?!?!?! Did this guy not know he had children? Did he miss the fact they were too young to stay home alone? So he arranges a nice date in a fancy hotel and they have to leave without spending the night. Classy. But the article paints him as the king of romance. I think not!
Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. Too often I hear young mothers complain that they can’t go out because their husband cannot handle the responsibility of taking care of their own children. Or there is just too much mess to clean up when she comes home. Or there is too much prep to do before she leaves because her husband does not cook, or microwave, or even know how to order a pizza. Men, this is ridiculous. If you want to bless your wife, or even keep her sane, she needs to be able to take some time to relax and recharge without feeling like she is being punished for it.
Here are some thoughts for when the wife is away:
Take the children somewhere, anywhere. This keeps the mess in the house to a minimum and makes you look like a hero. Some suggestions are movies, museums, duck ponds and anything that has the word ‘play land’ in it.
Plan to go out to eat. This too cuts down on the mess. If you must eat at home frozen pizza is easy and the instructions are right on the package- just don’t forget to set the timer. Some varieties even have a vegetable or two on them (which your children will probable pick off, but at least you tried).
Remember, you cannot take your eyes off of young children! They seem to have a type of radar that knows when the adult is not looking. This is when the messes are made, and the things that necessitate an ER visit are done. Realize that this will not be a night where you kick back and watch TV or play a video game. Children are hard work that is why your wife is not as spunky as she used to be. But… If you give her enough opportunities to rest and relax she will have some more of that pre-kid spark back!
Practice makes perfect. The more time you spend alone with your children, the better it will be. And the advantage to all of this is that your children will see you as a competent human being, and not the person who cannot even figure out how to boil water for the mac and cheese. Trust me, this helps with your relationship with them. Just remember, the worst thing you can do to your wife is to trash the house while she is gone. Make sure the children are mobilized to clean (which may mean down for a nap, or happy in a swing) at least an hour before she gets home. (Take into consideration the time- too long before she gets home and you’ll just have to re-do it.) If you do fail, apologize and help her when she gets home. Don’t act as if you are now off-duty and any mess that was made is now hers to deal with!
I hope this helps. Motherhood is a tough job. If your wife does not take some down time she will not be as good at it. Make sure it happens in a way she can actually appreciate. Thanks guys, I know you’ll do well. (Subtle positive reinforcement here- not my typical sarcastic style- so enjoy- I really, really wanted to call certain people schmucks, but refrained. See how good I’ve gotten!)
Now if you are already doing this- check with your wife and see if she thinks you are doing this. I once took a karate class with what I thought, from their reports, were some of the best dads around. Then I found out they were the same husbands the wives complained about during the kids’ class at night! The biggest complaint: The husband, trying to be a ‘good guy’ would attempt to tackle a large, usually unnecessary, job, like cleaning the laundry room while the wife was away. He would ignore everything else and the laundry room would be spotless. (Not that anyone checks out how clean someone’s laundry room is when they visit. At least not anyone sane.) The problem: While he was cleaning the laundry room, the kids were destroying the rest of the house, so the wife came home to a very clean laundry room, a husband who expected praise, and more housework than she could ever imagine! Are you seeing the problem?