Problem: When I get home from the office, I would like to decompress a bit before taking on the kids. I truly and dearly love my wife and children. However, after a chaotic day I find my tolerance to noise and spousal dependence a bit tenuous. Any suggestions?
Solution posted by A.Student from CA: I was a stay at home mom with two kids, fifteen months apart. I love them dearly, and cherish my time with them, however, this is not an easy thing to do. Have you thought of what it is like to stay at home with kids? There are no breaks, and the job never ends. If one is not dirty, the other is, or they are hungry, or tired, or cranky. I worked until I became pregnant with my first child and let me tell you, it is much easier to go to work and put in your eight hours or so, and go home. If your spouse stays at home, how about giving her a break? Maybe you should look at all sides of the issue.
Another solution posted by "Tom S.": As in every aspect of marriage, we need to develop good communication skills when requesting quiet or unwinding time. One of the first things that you need to explain, is often what I do when I walk in the door. My wife, who does not work outside the house, is often eager for some adult conversation after being with kids all day and she is bubbling over with the days events, problems, announcements, etc. On more difficult days, (more often than not, I'm sorry to say), I will simply say, "I'll be ready to talk in .... minutes." And then I must keep my word. Exactly on time, I will go downstairs and tell my wife (or kids) "Ok, I'm ready to listen, just don't expect any immediate answers, but fire away."
Actually both wife and kids appreciate knowing that although I do need unwinding time, that I will give them a exact time of minutes when I am ready to talk. We have learned as a family, that I can come home carrying the pressures and frustrations of the office and the commute home with me and when I walk in the door, I am more inclined to bark orders, ridicule, reprimand and autocrat. They have come to prefer my total silence when I walk in the door, head upstairs for a few minutes, announce how much time tonight and then act like a husband and father rather than a business man and executive.
But I think your communication with your wife needs to supersede this set of guidelines for your personal restfulness. My wife and I have developed over our 15 years a code of cute key words. One of my wife's favorite is she will look lovingly into my eyes and sweetly say "I'm losing it." And I will, if I have any brains, understand that it is time for me to step in and take charge. Or she may say "I don't want to play mommy today." (Not to the kids of course, only in private to me.) This means that I need to play daddy and not be a sports fan or workaholic on the weekends. I used to have a lot of my own sayings, but recently I've adopted her "I'm losing it." Not said as an expletive, but just as a matter of information.
Other couples will use the code word: "Tag: You're It." Meaning something like, "You're in charge, I going to vegetate for awhile." You need to be responsive to your wife's need to have you as conversation, and as a refuge from the kids now and then. If after your unwinding time, you also state your willingness to "take over" (if she wants you to), then do so. Go out and buy her some bath oil beads, and after wind-down time, draw her a bath, give her the beads and tell her lovingly to "get lost," you'll take over and only disturb her if her mother calls, the house burns down or the kids are bleeding.
Try this out, and I think you reap rewards aplenty. Good Luck.
Another solution posted by "Bora": An excellent parenting skill to learn is how to identify your hot spots or temper-inducing situations. Second to this is to identify what things calm you down. These skills can be learned only by knowing yourself.
Classical music, ice cream, reading, taking a drive in the country having a solitude spot in a nearby park. I could go on and on. I have experienced a similar situation to yours in which I was attacked at the front door by excited kids and a wife just dying to tell me everything that went wrong that day all before crossing the welcome mat at the door. In my situation I learned to downshift a bit at work 30 or so minutes before time to leave. Listen to calming music in the car on the way home and sometimes taking a longer more scenic way home when needed. Second I tactfully arranged with spouse a time of day where all events of the day were to be discussed in full. The kids were a little harder to convince so I settled with the fact that they were glad to see me and that it was much better than coming home to an empty house. This is what I did in my case and it may not at all apply to yours. If any of it helps good. If not you can always talk to your family about how you feel and try a mutually workable fix. After all isn't that sort of what you have to do all day at work with a much tougher crowd of people? Good luck to you.
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