Monday, June 20, 2011

adjusting to summer

In my house, probably like most, there is some adjustment when summer comes. Schedules and routines have to be modified. For us, in addition to my children being off school and home, my husband is as well. I have had several friends say, "That must be nice to have him home all summer." I usually say, "Yeah." But I am thinking, "You would think that would be nice but it is not as great as it sounds."

Usually, there is a period of adjustment and then we all settle into being around each other all the time. Right now, we are still adjusting.

During the school year, my husband is gone a lot. Since I am home all day it often feels like it is the kids and I and then he sometimes joins the three of us. When the end of school comes, suddenly he is around all the time. We have our regular schedules and routines, the way we do things and then he is there throwing a wrench in things.

Then, in the fall we have another period of adjustment. For the past several years each fall has been a different adjustment. In addition to my husband going back to school, one year we had my daughter start preschool, two years later she started kindergarten (half-day) and my son started preschool, the next year she started first grade (full day), this year my son will start kindergarten (our district just switched to full day.) Fall has been a time of a lot of change for us. After this fall, things should start to feel a little more regular.

So far this summer, I haven't yet figured out the best schedule for us. This is the first year the kids have taken summer school so the first four weeks of summer have them gone in the mornings. When I was making our tentative schedule I figured it would be similar to last year. The kids would have morning jobs, we would have some kind of activity, some daily reading, etc. School starts at 8, so there is no time before school to do a morning job. School ends at 12 but we don't get back home until about 12:30. By the time we finish lunch it is already 1. I haven't been able to figure out where to fit in reading, activities, and jobs yet.

The other adjustment I am having to make is having my husband around all the time. As much as I love my husband and enjoy being around him, we are not used to being around each other so much. It can cause quite a bit of tension. Plus, I always think, this summer we are going to split the work 50-50. He is going to learn how to do everything around here. No more is the burden for so much going to be on me.

But, as usually happens, I am just glad to have him around more so I am less annoyed by what he doesn't do. I am less stressed overall because I don't watch other kids in the summer. Some of the burden of the work load is relieved simply because he is here to help with the kids, do some cooking, and help with the dishes. We are no where near 50-50, though.

I know some of it is my fault. We have fallen into the habit we do each summer, which is very much like what we do all year. I still do the majority around here. It is just easier to do things myself. I would prefer he do something with the kids so I can clean or organize. I prefer things be done my way and I get a sense of comfort and accomplishment having cleaned and organized. That doesn't help me in the long run, though. He still doesn't know what needs to be done around the house or how things need to be done. I think he thinks he is doing a great job because he does something. I think something is the minimum. We should be able to have this house really clean and organized with the two of us being home. Especially with the kids being gone all morning five days a week.

We don't have great communication. I've tried to have the conversation about what needs to be done. Since he truly has no idea of everything that needs to be done around here (I'll have to write about how I think his mother created this monster) he says he wants me to give him a list of things to do and he will do them. In reality, he doesn't want me to tell him what to do. He doesn't like feeling like I am bossing him around. He also doesn't like me telling him how to do something.

While yes, I like things to be done a certain way, my standards are very low. It's not like Sleeping with the Enemy  where all the can labels have to be lined up. It's more like when you do the dishes, I don't want to have to come back into the kitchen and finish putting left over food in the fridge (yes, I have had to do that) or if you use a rag to wipe down the counters, please rinse it (tonight I picked up the rag and it was full of pizza sauce.)

I swing from being so irritated and tired of those same things happening over and over to thinking, "Really, is it that big of a deal?" On one hand, no it's not. On the other hand, yes it is. Those are the kinds of things that drive me over the edge during school. When we are not spending time together and he is not home, those are the things that build up. Now, they aren't that big of a deal. But, in about 6-8 months when he is gone several nights a week and a couple weekends in a row. They will be a very big deal.

I have no idea how to figure this out. What I have done to this point, has not worked. I need to get him to do more this summer and all year but I have to get him to do it without feeling like I am telling him what to do. I guess I also need to let go of some things. Which, I have done but I guess I can do more.

Here is what I think I am going to try...
I am going to ask him to do some job every day.

I have had him swish & swipe, I do ask him to empty the dishwasher, we take turns dropping the kids off and picking the kids up. Actually, that has been huge. I have been running a lot in the mornings. I get up and out the door before the kids get up and he has to feed them, get them dressed, and ready to leave. That is what I am going to try to do with things around the house. I am going to give him the same kinds of opportunities.

I am going to have to really be focused on doing that. I tend to revert back to what my mom always did (which I have written about before) try to make everything easy on my dad. Instead of requiring him to do his share she did everything she could so he wouldn't have to anything once he got home from work. It didn't matter whether she was home with little kids all day or if she was also working full-time. That is a hard habit to break though. When I think about it, I get frustrated not only at myself, but also at my husband. Now, he is no where near like my dad. He does do dishes without being asked, he does stuff with the kids, he will cook. But, he is also fine letting me do a lot more than he does.

We'll see how this works, I'll keep you posted.


  1. Hi again! Ok, sorry, just felt the need to give my 2 cents worth. Being a stay at mom is NO easy task, I know. I'm not any more, and the kids are now heading to college so I've picked up a few things over the years :). First, (and please please, please don't think I'm preachin cuz I'm not!) maybe re-evaluate HOW you communicate with Hubby of what you'd like help with. I'm famous for griping that I get no help, and then when he tries to help, I say NO, I've got it :) Also, unfortunately, we have to remind ourselves that they are NOT mind readers ... so I'm sort of like "hey, can you grab that pile of clothes and toss them in the hamper when you go that way" and try to give a smile and "hey buddy, thanks" look ... seriously, it really is the attitude. To this day, 21plus years later, I WASH the dishes, I WASH the laundry and so on. Hubby will ask me why I don't have the kids do it and I'm like, well, they work, go to school, etc., and of course, I want to say, why don't YOU do it? :) But I don't because I know it would be snarky ... Good luck, try to stay positive, and remember, it's not the end of the world if things don't get done!

  2. @Frugal in FloridaThanks for your comment. I have thought a lot about this. Here are my thoughts:

    First, obviously I need to do something differently because what I am doing is not working. What is the saying? "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results." I know asking him nicely and saying thanks will get probably get better results. For me, that feels like I'm playing a game or even dealing with the kids. Praise him and build him up so he will continue to do more work. (Maybe I should do a sticker chart, just kidding.) I feel like why should I have to ask. We are both adults. It is not just my house or my kids. Why does so much rest on my shoulders?

    Second, I don't necessarily want him to read my mind but I would like him to know what needs to happen without me having to ask. I would be better off if I just realize that is not going to happen and accept how things are and work with that.

    Third, I know I am much bitchier when he is not around. Like now, it's summer and he is home a lot and I don't mind doing so much around here. Part of it is that he is here to help but I think a big part of it is just that he is here. It's probably a combination of not feeling so isolated and like I'm in this alone and actually spending time together and getting attention from him. I feel like in a way that is unfair to him because the rules or expectations kind of change. When he isn't around I just feel drained. It feels like it is all on my shoulders. It's meaningless things like the housework and bigger things like decisions about the kids.

    Plus, I think the same thing applies to the situation you gave. Why should you have to do it all?

    But, then I realize that I really am lucky. He is a good man, a good dad, and he loves me. Having said that, I don't think I should have to accept that it is all on me but I certainly can ask for help instead of just getting annoyed because I'm not getting it.

    Thanks again for your comment. You certainly have made me reconsider how I do things around here.