Dudes Can't Read Minds

Too much of a good thingSo do you remember that darn man cold? Well, it turned into a man ear infection that lasted for two weeks, which meant my husband was grounded here at home.

It sounds glorious, right? Especially for someone who's used to doing things solo all the time.

And really, it is great to have him here. No lugging all the kids to the grocery store or shoving them all in the car to go pick up one from preschool. I can leave dishes in the sink or laundry in the dryer and most of the time it won't be there the next day.

Okay, maybe that's not completely accurate, but close enough.

But if you're a sometimes single mom, then you know that it's not all wine and roses.


He's home from work without any clear knowledge of how the daily schedule runs. And in his mind, he's on sick leave. Or vacation. Or some weird combination of the two. And to my husband, that means staying up late jamming on his guitar, or watching some weird show on the History Channel, which translates into me getting up with the kids because he's too tired.

So while I've got an extra set of hands, sometimes those hands don't know what to do with themselves. And when those hands don't seem to be doing a good job of helping out, his presence becomes more frustrating and tiresome than when he's away.

However, I've learned over the years that it doesn't have to end up being more work. Here's how we try to manage the long stays at home, rare as they might be, without wanting to strangle each other:

1. Communicate the schedule

Every night before we hit the sack, we discuss the next day's schedule. I'll tell him what's on the agenda for me and the kids, and then I'll ask him what he needs to get done. Then we figure out who's doing what before it actually happens. This way, we're all prepared. We sometimes even discuss this before the kids go to bed so that they know what to expect. You'd think it wouldn't be such a big deal, but when your son is used to having you drive him to school every day, it can wreak havoc when Daddy offers to take over the job.

For some of you, laying it out on an online calendar or even a written weekly calendar might work. But since he's rarely home for longer than a few days at a time, we find that this method works best.

2. Make lists

For me, the frustration comes from my husband not instinctively digging in and helping out. This doesn't mean that he's not involved, nor am I saying that he just sits around and does nothing. But his priorities might be different than mine -- like vacuuming the basement stairs on a daily basis when I could really use his help doing the laundry or doing the math part of my daughter's homeschooling program. So, instead of getting annoyed that he doesn't know, I make sure to tell him. Everything from "You take the morning routine and I'll play with them later on" to "Please make sure the laundry gets done while I'm gone." And most of the time, he does it.

Dudes can't read minds. You'd think we would all learn that by now, but apparently I still think he's got a crystal ball in his pocket.

3. Be consistent

Just because your spouse is home doesn't mean you should drastically change your routine. This gets a little odd when you're paying out the nose for a babysitter and you don't actually need her. However, it's too much for me to cancel her on a last-minute basis, or even for an entire week because my husband is home.

I've learned that having the consistency helps everyone, especially the kids, and it also allows him to have time to get stuff done too.

What are some ways that you help integrate your spouse back into your schedule when he's home?

Image via Flickr/Pink Sherbet Photography

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