Give Your Working Partner a Break Sometimes

Let me paint you a picture of what went down on the night that prompted this post.

I came downstairs after working from 8:30-5pm.

(For those of you that don’t know, I own my own business and I run my company from my home office.  My husband is a stay at home dad and he hangs out with Willow all day and keeps the house orderly and keeps many of the moving bits of our life in check.)

So yes, I came downstairs from working and made dinner and began my evening with Willow as Steve was headed out to a cycling class.

My sister came over for a visit, as she does sometimes after work, and we finished dinner (my sister proved to be a distraction, albeit a good one, so Willow didn’t eat as much as I would have liked her to) and headed down to the basement craft room.

Down here we played with the the light table, painted, made arts and crafts and fixed her train table up (the tracks were a disaster).  We laughed, we played, I snapped some photos, we were creative and we were enjoying ourselves.  I lost track of time.

Steve came home from cycling and at the same moment, Willow went into full out meltdown mode.  She threw train tracks.  She screamed.  She flung herself on the floor repeatedly.  She didn’t want to be held but she didn’t want us to be very far from her.

Steve asked me how much she ate, “Not much” I replied.  He asked me if her bath was done, “No, I lost track of time” I replied.  He asked me if I had given her a snack, “No, I didn’t get a chance to” I replied.  He then said the words that, to me, felt like a punch in the gut: “Maybe I should have stayed home instead of gone to cycling.

And there it was. The elephant in the room.

I was incapable.  I was throwing her out of her normal routine.  I was a distraction.  I didn’t know the process.

How can this be?  I’m her mother.  I have had an equal share in raising this kid.  I was only trying to have fun with her.  I don’t get much time with her.  I miss her.

I stood at the kitchen counter for a long, long time wondering what I could do differently.  How I could possibly get more time with her even though I have to be chained to my desk from 9-5pm each day.  How I could have possibly lost track of time and kept her up past her bedtime and forgot about giving the kid a snack.

As I stood there at the kitchen counter I realized that I was feeling cheated a bit.  That I was feeling cheated of the time that I don’t get to spend with my daughter.  That the time I do spend with her is often in the evenings when she is already getting tapped out from the busy day.  That I get the dinner routine and the bath routine but I get very little of the quality time routine.

Sure, the night could have gone differently.  My sister didn’t have to come over, we didn’t have to paint and do activities, I could have just sat and read books with her or cuddled or really soaked her up in some other way but the truth of the matter is, I simply tried to grasp onto what I don’t get to have all day, every day.

If you go to work 9-5pm, you’ll feel me on this.

If you’re a stay-at-home parent, all I ask is that sometimes, you give your working partner a break.  Cut them some slack.  Understand that the time that they get with their kids isn’t the same as the time that you get with your kids.  Understand that they are spending time with tiny humans who are already very much tired and spent from the day they’ve just had.

It’s going to be like this a lot once Willow goes to school.  School will be zapping her energy and both my husband and I will feel the way I felt that night.  We’ll both feel like we’re being cheated a bit on getting her best time.  However, right now, that time cheat is on my shoulders and I’m trying to find ways to cope with it that don’t involve getting angry or frustrated with my partner.

I get that he’s just trying to help me and he knows how exhausted and overwhelmed I am some days. I get that he craves routine, as does my daughter, and I just need to find a way to do more with her on the weekends but keep things low key during the week.  The hardest part though is just accepting that the minutes, hours, days and weeks are floating by and I’m getting much less time with her than I’d like to have.

So, the next time that your partner does something silly like riling the kids up before bed or taking them for ice cream in the evening or keeping them up past their normal bedtime, just know that it’s not done to spite your day-to-day routine.  It’s not done to make your day with them the following day difficult.  It’s simply done because we love our kids and we’re trying to soak them up as much as we can before we have to head back to work.

Are you a working parent?  Do you understand what I mean about the lost time and the kids being a bit unruly by the time we do get to spend with them?


  1. Amy says

    I think it’s great that you played with her… you made her the first priority and not the clock. She’s 2, she’s going to have meltdowns, sometimes it’ll be your fault, sometimes it won’t be… don’t feel bad. She’ll remember the fun she had with mom, not how tired she was because of it. :) PS, Steve, chill out. Lol!

    • says

      Thank you Amy :) I really appreciate the reminder that she is still tiny… I need to remember that these times will fly by and I should cherish them – chastised or not 😉 – Erin

  2. yasmin says

    Its tough as I am a “work at home” and a “stay at home” mom. I do my best to run my business around the kids the schedules. i am fortunate that my profession allows me to be flexible – but at times it is overwhelming as I do not get to close my door between any hours :). I at times get frustrated with the kids as it is hard to balance “mom” and “professional” and sometimes the two do collide on the clock and I find I am pulled. I feel that I am failing as the parent when i have to “shush” them – however I still feel its better than daycare – or is it? My husband works f/t outside the home – so at times it is frustrating when he is left with the kids and the routines are out of whack – i know it is not malicious – but to have to take over do the baths and bedtime can be overwhelming when you think it would have been done by time you got home. But as Amy says above kids have meltdowns; A LOT; and it can be any one thing that causes it and sometimes nothing at all. So its great that you were able to spend that dedicated time with her – as that is time you will never get back or have again.

    • says

      Yasmin, it’s so true… It is tough to balance the two when you work from home. I often feel that it’s after hours when I get the most frustrated because sometimes there are things I really do NEED to be doing at work but it’s hard to separate it. Especially being self-employed.

      I love this line: “So its great that you were able to spend that dedicated time with her – as that is time you will never get back or have again.”

  3. Heidi says

    I understand that the “working” parent may crave more time with their child resulting in later bedtimes and routines flying out the window, but as the stay-at-home parent I crave some alone and quiet time before I head to bed! Lol :-)

  4. Lynda says

    I hear you there.
    I used to work evenings a few years ago and “daddy” was in charge for supper and bath etc…
    Having being at home for years before that…it was all new for him to do it all.
    Well…bath time ended up not being regular and supper time….very simple and most of the time no veggies cause daddy is fussy and doesn’t like many of them….rabbit food he calls it.
    It was ever so difficult…but I kept telling myself….they are getting what they need during the day, and so what if they don’t bathe every night….they have their Daddy…and I make sure they get everything else they need in way of nutrition…at breakfast and lunch…and I eventually pre-made certain things to make my mind more at ease. It is difficult. Hang in there….you both need to get used to it and talking about it is key…and relax…so you don’t get stressed out. xo