To the Partner of the Parent at Home,
I need to tell you something, something really important. Something that is vital to the wellbeing of your partner, your family (and by extension, to you!). You have your partner's life in your hands.
You go out everyday to earn money for your family allowing your partner to spend their precious time with your children, nurturing and helping them grow. We may not say it very often but we do appreciate it. We appreciate that your hard work allows us to watch our children grow, to be the biggest part of their first few years and to have nothing interfere with that. And to the same extent I'm sure you appreciate the sacrifices we make in order to do this. Our careers, our figures (our sanity) and our independence. I'm sure you know that what we do isn't easy but that we wouldn't change it for the world. And we know that being the sole earner (if only for a short period) comes with its own pressures.
But this is not what I'm talking about.
When we're at home every day keeping the house and taking care of the children it's very hard to find a sense of validation. Now I know some people need this more than others and that the following sentiment might not be shared by all but I'm sure that plenty of parents will relate. When we spend all day at home we rarely get that sense of satisfaction at the end of the day of a job well done. Most days I find myself thinking about all the things I did wrong or have yet to do. I think that's what I miss most about working.
So, my point here is that as the partner of a parent at home, you, whether you realise it or not, provide much of that validation. Next to our children, you are the most important people in our lives. You are the other half of this parenting team and your opinion means a LOT (even if sometimes you think we don't listen). Our entire lives revolve around being the best parent we can be and your input into that can make us feel like the best parent in the world or like we're 2 inches tall. You hold a ridiculous amount of power over how we see ourselves without even knowing it. If you hold us in high regard and are able to show how much you think of our abilities as a parent then it can provide a sense of validation that is so often lacking in our lives. To the same extent, if you criticise what we do, it might not seem like a big deal to you but it can feel like a hammer blow to us because yours is the most important opinion of all. It's a huge responsibility, to be that important to someone.
So when we seem to fly off the handle over one little comment, remember it's not a little comment to us. Whether it be about our parenting, the state of the house, a fresh shirt, it's a big deal. It's our self worth and trust me when I tell you, with all the hormones in play it's a very delicate thing! Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you're not entitled to speak your mind, all I'm saying is that when you do, have a little regard for our fragile egos!
Try to put it in perspective. When your manager or client criticises something you have put your heart and soul into then it doesn't feel too good. We do this all day every day with no thanks, no pay rises, no promotions, no commission and no performance reviews. The only recognition we get is from our children and from YOU. Our pay rises are in the hugs of our children, our promotions in their successes. Our performance reviews, they come from you! So take them seriously and realise that you can empower us with your love and appreciation. You can make our job so much better with just a little encouragement and as far as we are concerned if you believe we are the best then the rest of the world be dammed!
From a stay at home Mum
This summer The Huffington Post UK is spearheading an initiative helping families thrive, with a focus on parent wellbeing, the challenges facing stay-at-home and working parents, friendships and navigating the landscape of modern parenting beyond the 2.4. To kickstart the campaign, Jamie Oliver guest edited the site, bringing a focus on feeding healthy families.
We'll be sharing stories and blogs with the hashtag #ThrivingFamilies and we'd like you to do the same. If you'd like to use our blogging platform to share your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.