The other day, Becky and I were talking about how hard it can be to decide what needs to be done around the house (cleaning, cooking, etc…) vs playing with the kids. It can be hard to decide which to do in the moment. This past weekend, we spent the whole morning playing, then got in the car with the kids to run errands. When we got home and looked around, we thought “Wow – maybe instead of playing baseball we should have spent the morning cleaning out the garage.”
It got me thinking about things you should never say to your stay at home spouse. It doesn’t matter if mom stays home or dad does, these remarks are definitely better left unsaid.
5 things to never say to your stay at home spouse
- Why Isn’t the House Clean?
When you decided that one of you would be a stay-at-home parent, it wasn’t so that your house would be spotless. Am I right? You decided it would be best to have one parent stay home, because it would be best for your children and your family. To expect that the parent staying at home should spend more time cleaning than nurturing the kids is highly unreasonable.
Instead Say: Thank you for all you do around the house during the day. Why don’t you relax while I run the sweeper?
- You’re So Lucky to Stay Home All Day.
This may come out as well-intentioned, especially if you’ve had a hard day at the office, but guess what? Chances are pretty good that it’s not been a picnic at home either. Managing small children and a household is not for the faint of heart. While the parent staying at home probably knows that it’s a blessing to be at home to take care of the kids, it’s a challenging, unappreciated, unpaid job. Sometimes, they don’t feel so lucky and would switch places in a heartbeat.
Instead Say: I want you to know how much I appreciate you staying home to take care of the kids. Thank you.
- I’m Going Out with Friends Tonight.
If you have to go out, that’s one thing, but texting your spouse at 4:45 and letting him or her know you won’t be home until the kids are in bed is just, well, setting yourself up for an argument. At the bare minimum, let him or her know the day before. You might think you’re the only one watching the clock during the day, but I can guarantee that there are days when your spouse is too. The difference is that your spouse is counting down the minutes until you come home. I had certain days where I met friends for baseball or basketball, but Becky knew and she would make plans to bring the kids to watch.
Instead Say: I was asked to join the team for Happy Hour on Friday after work. I know you’ve had a rough week too. Do you mind if I go?
- You Are So Lucky You Never Have to Dress Up.
This statement can be interpreted a few ways, but to the person who stays at home, it’s going to be in a way that’s not so positive. If you’ve ever spent the day running after toddlers, holding a colicky baby, or changing diapers, you know that high-fashion isn’t practical. High heels get traded for sneakers and that stylish dress gets exchanged for yoga pants. Caring for kids is a messy business – literally.
Instead Say: You’re beautiful all the time (watch their eyes light up).
- Wow- Busy Day? I Can Tell By The House.
Whoa, friend, that is a dangerous statement. You wouldn’t catch me saying those words. In all honesty, it may not look like a lot got done. Laundry may still be piled up and the floor may be littered with toys, but I can guarantee your spouse did a whole lot more than sit on the sofa all day. Instead of criticizing what you can’t see, thank him or her for keeping the kids safe and happy. Chores and housework are a joint effort – not just your spouse’s responsibility.
Instead Say: It looks like you all had fun playing today! What did you enjoy the most?
The key to maintaining a strong relationship, and this goes for any relationship, is open, respectful communication. Sometimes all you need to do is say thank you and really listen to your spouse to make things better. As fun as it may seem from the outside, being the stay at home parent is a highly stressful, underappreciated job.
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