Thursday, January 1, 2009

Saturday Everyday

While the Catholic Mom blogosphere is filled with posts about the wonderful twelve days of Christmas, and how Christmas isn't over, and how we can keep celebrating, I am all partied out!

We are so blessed that my husband's job gives him time off ("Paternity Leave") when he has a baby, so he will be home with us for a few weeks. We are also blessed that our new baby has an easy temper and that I have recovered well, so we are more or less up and running, or at least we could be. The thing is, as much as we love having Dad around, as much as we want and need his help right now, it is very hard to get a normal routine going when he is here, so we are living one saturday after another. I know that most families are off of their routines because of the holidays, but I have to remember that I threw up my hands and stopped trying sometime back in early December, so my kids have been unstructured for almost a month now. Some of that time has been really, really fun, but it is time for us to get out of our bathrobes and get going, and we all feel it. The problem is, how can we do this? Do we try to incorporate Dad into the routine, or just pretend that he is not really here? Do I farm out the children to him a few at a time and focus on the others? I would love some advice from anyone who has had the experience of having husbands home for a few weeks. My husband is super helpful, and I have learned that if I ask (nicely) he will happily do whatever the family needs him to do, but I think that both he and I get frustrated by the lack of routine and clear expectations. On a day to day basis the rest of the year, we live happily in our very traditional roles -- he works, takes out the trash, gets the car repaired, changes lightbulbs, I stay home, clothe and feed the family, keep the house in order. Right now, I am slightly checked out, in part because I am interrupted to nurse the baby or fall asleep, but my household tasks are not getting done. I start the laundry but don't finish it, at four o'clock we both look at each other and wonder what to do about dinner. The kids are begging to start school again, so I let them take out some workbooks and get going, but even that needs to be done in a more focused and orderly way moving forward. So, please help us make a plan to get out of fairy land and back to our real life, as great as the sugar plums have been, we are all feeling a little bit of a holiday hangover!
Posted by Picasa


Jess said...

While I don't have a husband, I know that when my roommate is home all day (I work from home) we spend a lot of the day tiptoeing around each other. However, on days one of us has decided the house needs to be cleaned, we discuss it, do the tasks we've decided on. As much as you discuss what you do on a daily basis with your husband, since he's not around, he won't be able to instinctively fill in for you. Maybe make a list for the week of what you wanted to do (school stuff, baby stuff, housework) and include a schedule for when you usually do various things. If he reads this blog, he probably knows a lot of the details, but to get back into a good rhythm make a schedule. Even if you don't keep to it carefully, you'll know what you can and can't do once he's back at work and what you might need help with later on. Congrats again on the new addition.

Chris Volpe said...

I just had my husband home for three weeks due to unused vacation time. "Saturday everyday" is a great way to describe it! But things needed to get done and he needed direction, so every morning I wrote a list for him and it really helped. I wish my children were begging to start school, but that is another story! Try the daily list, it's really simple and helps ensure at least some things are accomplished.
(p.s. Thanks for the card.. and yes, I am blogging!)

Drea (Monkey Monkey Underpants) said...

My husband is a teacher so every winter for 5 weeks, and every summer for 3 months, not to mention occasional holidays, we have "Saturday everyday." When we first had our baby, it was really difficult figuring out what to do with each other and how to get a routine going. We've figured out a system where basically I try to go abou the day normally, as I would if he is not there. However he has a to-do list that he works on (quiet things during baby's naptimes and loud things while she's awake). Also, he's there to help out in certain areas like if I want to take a shower longer than 5 minutes, he can sit and play or read with her. Definitely try the to-do list, it seems that things work out better when the husband knows what is expected of him that day. Also, maybe try alternating dinner days. And use the crockpot! It is a busy moms best friend! Good luck! :)

Elena said...

MA, I understand this all too well as my husband is a teacher. I am presently sitting in my pjs at 10:38 am. All the kids are in PJs and still eating breakfast in stages. I especially find this hard in the summer as I am highly organised and like things MY way. The result can be a lot of fights over expectations that I haven't voiced and therefore haven't been met. I often feel like someone has invaded my workplace and left it messy and unorganised. I have found that I need to relax at first and let the schedule go. We then decide what projects (out of the ordinary and requiring Dad) really need doing. For example, my husband is great at huge clean-ups, reorganisations etc. that I simply can't tackle because of kids and fatigue. We also take advantage of dad-at-home to take day trips etc. that we wouldn't do with only me around. The old schedule eventually always resurfaces but it has usually benefited from a break and some re-tweaking. God bless and enjoy dad at home.

Right Said Red said...

First, great picture.

Second, I second/third the suggestions to have a "to do" list for Dad.

Last year when Mr. Red was on paternity leave, we had these same difficulties. By the end of his leave, we had worked out a system where we met together at the beginning of each week (Sunday night) and went over the "weekly" schedule. We then made specific daily to do lists (his list and mine) and we went through each day checking off our list. Mr. Red doesn't really cook, so I would make meals, but he was in charge of getting the kids up and dressed and feeding them breakfast in the am. I would even suggest having a "goal time" for this task as it is so important to the rest of the daily schedule. If you tell hubby that you expect the kids dressed and fed by 8 or 9am, he will know this is his job. Once kids are dressed and fed early, the rest of your day will actually run smoothly. You can then do school with the kids and he can go about a daily house task "to do" list. The more items you can get on a specific person's list--the better! Things just don't get done when they are a shared task.

Good Luck!

Kate E. said...

Perhaps think about how your would like your days to go once he is back at work. Write out that schedule, including school, house work, nap times, meal times, etc.

Then try to go about the day like normal, like he is not there...but he is on baby duty.

Which is to say he should go about doing some extra house things (I'm sure there is a long list of them) that need to be done beyond the normal things. And you should treat the baby (and big 1 year old) like you would during normal school/play times, but he can jump in if the anyone gets fussy, or bring the baby to you if he needs to be nursed, etc. This will let you start to have a sense of how the rhythm of your day will be once he is back at work (like how long the baby will tolerate being in the swing, etc.) without you sweating it out on your on.
If that makes sense?
As the days go on you will work into your new schedule and he can focus less on helping you with that and more on those fun tasks like installing new curtains or making the floorboards stop creaking (or is that just our house).

Kevin said...

We had a long Christmas break as well. What works for us is to attend daily mass. It gets us up, dressed and out the door at 8:15 as mass is at 8:30 AM. We also did this at my parents house when visting. This gets us out to run errands after mass, sledding and other activities. My wife was invited to a mom's rosary at my parent's parish and we even spent a 1/2 hour at adoration after one mass which was a teachable moment for the four year old. It gets the kids outside and out of the house. We generally get home for lunch and then the ids take naps leavingthe afternoon free to get things done around the house. Plus how can you beat starting the day with daily mass.

Joelle said...

I second Kevin, this has worked out well for us too, just having survived four weeks with Dad and a first newborn at home. Shamefully, we skipped a couple of days of daily mass here and there to sleep in, but have realized that on those days nothing gets done and I, for one, am in a bad mood all day. Plus it's prayer we get to do together as a family and that's an important item to establish in our schedule, even when Dad goes back to work.