Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Q & A–expectations, Christmas cards and giving

I am a young mom of two young children. My question is, how much should I expect my husband to help around the house, with the kids, grocery shopping, etc. He is in graduate school full-time, so he is pretty busy, but his mind is also very preoccupied with his own interests. I know he needs his time to do his things, but he either does school, or his own thing. I really want him to focus on school, and get what he can and needs to get out of it, but I get frustrated a lot. Occasionally, he will help me with little tasks. Like, changing a diaper, or keeping an eye on the toddler while I fix dinner. And most of the time, I have to ask for his help. Don't get me wrong, he's a great guy, and I really love him. I also LOVE being a SAHM and wife, but I do feel like I do it all, all of the time. I don't know what to expect from my husband, or if my expectations are too high. Or if this is just something I'll have to deal with until he's done with school? Tips??

I think managing expectations are such a huge part of making a marriage work.  One of the very best pieces of advice Dave and I got when we got married was from my parents.  It was something that helped them and in turn it’s sure helped us a lot.  They told us that they sit down occasionally and write a list of what they feel the other person needs. NOT what they need…that wouldn’t be nearly as effective.  It’s a chance to think about the other person in that marriage relationship and have empathy for what THEY need.  Then they go over it together and tell each other what they got right and what they missed. 

It is such a great exercise to try to think about that other person in that marriage relationship and what will help them be happy.  That’s what we all want, right?

So, if you sit down with your husband and do this, it may make him realize that one of your “needs” is more help with the house.  It may also make you realize that his “needs” are ok as long as he keeps them in check (although it sounds like you already realize that).  It’s just a good exercise to try to get into the mind of your spouse.  Through this I have realized Dave needs a little unwind time after work and he also needs the counters uncluttered in order to function.  Interesting, right?  He has also helped me a bunch in my role as a mom as he’s thought of what I need…sometimes things I didn’t even think of myself. 

Whenever we feel like our expectations of each other are getting out of whack we realize we need to sit down and figure out what each other needs.  It’s definitely not a big formal “meeting” or something like that, but just taking a little time at dinner or before we go to bed to think about the other person’s needs makes a big difference.

What company do you order your family Christmas cards from (or do you make your own)?

This is a timely question because I just dumped my second batch of cards in the mailbox yesterday.  Is that bad that that is the best feeling EVER?  Seriously, Christmas cards are a humongous pain, but I’m so grateful for an opportunity to keep in touch with people we love so much.  Much more about Christmas cards and what we do with them in this post last year:  http://www.71toes.com/2011/01/card-contest.html (card ideas there too…)

I’ve tried a bunch of card printing companies, but this year I ordered from Persnickety Prints who I think did an awesome job.  We were so excited to get our order and start the envelope stuffing craziness.  2012-12-11 winter 65995

I think Persnickety’s deadline for ordering to get in time for Christmas might be today so if you still haven’t done a card hurry and slap a picture in one of their great templates and get that Christmas card done :)  (In answer to the question, I do my own designing in Photoshop but it looks like they have a bunch of great templates ready to go.)

I want to get my children some new books for Christmas.  Any ideas as to which ones would be good? 

Favorite children's books I think every family should have on their book shelves here: http://www.71toes.com/2010/02/favorite-books.html

Lots more Christmas giving ideas here:  http://www.71toes.com/2012/11/favorite-things-gift-ideas.html

17 comments:

TazLady said...

As to the first question about helping around the house - I think Shawni's idea about the lists is great.

However, I think that the person who asked the question needs to take a step back. She says she is a SAHM. That usually means that the husband works full time to pay the bills. And she also says that her husband is a full time graduate student. That being the case, when would he have time to be of help around the house.

So, really, it would naturally fall to her to do the lions share of household and kid chores - as it should. It is a rare privelige in this economic time to be able to be a SAHM - someone has to be the breadwinner - so he can' be expected to come home and do her "job" too!

Kay said...

the picture of your Christmas card, is that Persnickety prints? I cannot find that card, it is too late for this year, but would be perfect for next year!

Holly Decker said...

thank you times fifty million. i totally needed this today.

thatonegirl said...

For books I also recommend A Wrinkle in Time (the entire series if possible) wonderful stories with an underlying moral message.

Kate said...

OF COURSE her husband can be expected to come home and do her "job", too, because raising children and housekeeping are two-person jobs! These jobs work much better--for the parents and the children--if each parent feels support from the other and has enough opportunity to recharge or relax. Many parents (myself included) work full time and then come home and work on household/baby chores until bedtime. This honor and responsibility belongs to both parents, regardless of whether the mom (or anyone else) is solely responsible for the children during the day.

Erica {let why lead} said...

My heart goes out to the woman in the first question, because I relate so well! I loved your idea, Shawni, and am going to try it for sure! My husband works long hours and also just doesn't very naturally see needs around the house (picking up, etc.). It has taken me years (and really is an ongoing process) to accept that the help I get might not be the same as what many of my friends seem to get from their husbands, but I would rather be happy in our marriage than resentful. So I've lowered my expectations considerably and tried to focus on the good. Sometimes I'm better that it than others, but it does help. Also, he seems to respond well when I mention a couple of things that I'd appreciate help with on HIS time frame (like fixing the patio door, or whatnot). Good luck, girl!

TazLady said...

I agree that it's a two person job, but the person who is home all day has to be expected to do more than the person who is at work and school all day and into the night.

I worked full time as did my husband while raising my son and it was more 50-50 for us because we were both gone all day.

Maybe this person's husband could pitch in on the weekends so that she can have some time to herself. But I still think that having chosen to stay home and take care of the kids - well, that's pretty much what she chose. Certainly not without any help at all from hubby, but definitely primary care-giver.

Terri-Ann said...

I am also a SAHM, but that is a 24 hour a day job, whereas my husband's work is obviously less than that. I make sure I work hard during the day, just like he does, but once he arrives home it's a team effort. We work together to see to the kids, and get everything tidied up after bedtime, then we relax together

Emily Dixon said...

I find that being a SAHM you need you time just as much as he does making a good balance is so important. And just as she is willing to allow him some extra time to do his hobbies, he needs to give her extra time for her needs which may be helping with the children more. Co parenting is really important in my marriage and I'm so greatful that my husband is as involved in most aspects of raising our children as I am. It makes our family and marriage happier because we work together instead of well I have done my part so I can just relax. It shouldn't be that way

Jen Garbett said...

For those of us not on your card delivery list...will you please share your card design from this year and past years with us? I LOVE creative cards and do something different every year and I love to see what other people have done as well.

Jill said...

Sometimes I feel like my husband is similar in the way that he's gone all day at work, comes home and wants to unwind (think about nothing or work more on his personal projects). But I've found that if I WRITE A LIST of "to-do's" for him,number them by priority and give a time I'd like it done by,and write a detailed description for each task so he's knows exactly what's expected of him, he will do just about anything and everything on that list. We have a "chores" spreadsheet on Google Drive so he can access it anytime online and plan when he'll get everything done. It's also easy for me to add something and see when he marks the "chore" as "resolved". Every so often he might need a little reminder, but he is actually pretty good at completing the list. One thing that I think is motivating for him is if I notice when he completes something I've asked (or not asked) him to do and give him recognition and a big hug for completing it. And usually that recognition and hug is a kind and gentle reminder of anything else I've asked him to do that he hasn't done yet.

The list idea might now work for all husbands, but I think it works for mine because he is a "get things done" kind of guy. I know that is how he gets things done at work (by completing highest priorities on a list first), so it has helped for me to use the system that he's already familiar with. Of course I can't write everything on the list, but I usually write the things that are hard for me to do during the day while I have really young kids at home with me, like cleaning the bathroom, taking out the trash, hanging up pictures on the wall...

I like the little exercise Shawni mentioned! Sometimes thinking of other people's needs doesn't come naturally to me, so I'm excited to do it a little more proactively. :)

Kaitlin said...

That is such a CUTE Christmas/New Year's card. Do you remember anything about which template that was. I might send a Christmas card a little late as a Christmas and New Year's card. I love the idea with all the photos from throughout the year's happenings on the inside of the card.

Eyrealm said...

Love the advice. Way to take a good idea and make it better!

Also, our card just arrived! Well at least we just found it! We've been gone as you know. Positively SPECTACULAR! We oogled over every little word and picture!

Holly said...

As a working mother with a husband and 4 kids, I can't help but get annoyed when stay-at-home-moms complain that their husbands don't help out enough. If your husband is in graduate school or employed full-time, that is his job and the stay-at-home mom's job is to care for the children and the house. Currently my husband and I are both employed so we share child and house duties. But, we've had times when one of us is unemployed and during that time that parent becomes the stay-at-home parent taking over all household and childcare duties. It's only fair.

TazLady said...

THANK YOU, HOLLY!! I said the same thing (first comment here) and was immediately rushed upon by all the stay-at-home Moms.

They just don't seem to get how lucky they are to have someone else to support them monetarily so that they can stay home.

And the ones who claim that working at a job outside the home is the same thing, they are the ones who have never worked outside the home- because anyone who has KNOWS it's not the same thing at all.

It doesn't matter if it's the Mom or the Dad who's at home - whoever it is should be responsible for pretty much all cooking, cleaning and other household tasks. Either that, or go to your spouse's job and do that for him for a few hours so he/she can have some "me" time. In effect, that's what you're asking them to do for you.

Caroline said...

I doesn't matter if you stay at home or work. Marriage and family is a partnership. That's why thinking about the other person's needs is so great. If she is struggling that much, she and the hubby need to adjust. EVERYONE needs a little down time. Working a full time job is exhausting. Being a SAHM is HARD work too. Regardless of your situation, it's all about working it out together, to make your family the best it can be.

LeAnne said...

I regards to the husband and wife's responsibilities around the home this is my two cents. (And yes, I am a SAHM and know what a blessing it is.)

It is all in how you view mother/father roles. A father's role isn't just going to work and bringing home the bacon. His work doesn't end when he enters the home neither does mine end when the kids are asleep. Yes, I take care of the majority of the things around the home, but it isn't wrong of me to ask help from my husband - and he is more than happy to give it. It is our family and for it to succeed we both contribute and work to make our family function. Part of being a father is contributing in the raising and rearing of the children.

I think Shawni's suggestion is spot on. Everyone needs certain things and it is important to realize what our spouse needs. Depending on work, health, or other situations our responsibilities within the home may change over time. That is part of having a family. The best thing we can do is to support each other in our various roles and see that each other is getting the love and support they need.

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