The primary focus of a work-at-home mom is often how to balance a career and time with kids — but how do you keep the emotional connection with your spouse alive when your careers take different paths?
In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen offers three ways to make sure your work-at-home mom schedule includes room for your spouse.
Admittedly, there are days when working in an office — with its lure of a private restroom, clean workspace, social time, and lunch breaks — seems a little easier than the "do it all role" I’ve opted into. (Full disclosure: I’ve done both, and they’re equally hard — in completely different ways!)
Likewise, my husband feels that a day full of deafening tantrums and iron-will resistance from our toddler would be music to his ears, given that he deals with adult-style temper tantrums all day at work. But that “grass is greener” type of thinking leads to dinner conversations that are anything but connective — flooding precious end-of-day time we should be using to decompress, full of negative exchanges about whose day was harder.
Make a pact with your spouse to spend no more than five minutes discussing the frustrating aspects of the day, and hold your kids to the same standard. Literally, set a timer, and see how the energy and conversation shift when you stop rehashing what went wrong, and start asking what parts of the day made your spouse feel happy, motivated and rewarded.
Relationship experts frequently recommend that couples set aside time for regular date nights, and I couldn’t agree more! However, they’re not always possible in the face of scarce sitter resources, tight budgets, and general exhaustion from an overly busy week. Though you should jump on every date night opportunity you can, don't rely on it to float your relationship.
Thinking you have to be out of the house on a date in order to focus on a meaningful connection with your spouse will cause you to repeatedly miss opportunities that are right under your nose. Agree on a time when both of you can focus on a conversation that doesn’t involve the kids or any kind of technology. Become wholly committed and ritualistic about how you use that time to connect, whether you sit on the porch sharing a nightcap once the kids have gone to bed, or take the dog on a walk after dinner. Just like exercise, little moments spent with your spouse are cumulative in their impact.
When I compare my daily reality in a full-time role working for someone else to my life now working from home as my own boss and raising a child, my interests, knowledge, and challenges have evolved immensely — as have my experiences.
When you stay home and your spouse goes to an office, you lose some of the “me too” commonality that inherently connects when you can commiserate over a bad boss or an irritating meeting. As a result, you have to proactively stay in tune with nuances of each other's days. The idea isn’t to “talk shop” with your spouse all the time, but rather to ensure that you still understand each other, despite leading very different daytime lives, so you can remain career partners and supporters of one another.
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition their careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
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